Ho’s fighting fit

Family Leader
Family Leader gets up under a tough Vincent Ho drive.

If there was a title for the fittest jockey in Hong Kong, Vincent Ho would certainly be a contender and the many hours spent hitting pads in the gym paid off for him in the Class 4 Wong Chuk Wan Handicap (1800m) at Happy Valley, Wednesday, 3 July.

The rider had to niggle the Caspar Fownes-trained Family Leader from the outset to race in fifth spot, and, through pelting rain, he was hard at it before the field of 12 had reached the 600m pole. There was no respite for the jockey’s busy arms: a check 450m out made the task more strenuous, but Ho was up to it, driving from six lengths down at the turn to clinch a grinding last stride victory.

“He’s not the easiest of horses, he’s hard work but (Vincent’s) a fit jockey – a fit horse and an incredibly fit trainer!” Fownes quipped.

“I thought his chances were gone when that check happened but it’s nice that he picked himself up and persevered – he stayed on strongly. The blinkers first time helped him to focus a little bit.”

It was a first win for the Makfi four-year-old at his 12th start, the bay having placed third over 2200m the time before.

“I said to Vincent I’d hoped that he could have got out and got going on him because he’s really dour, he stays all day. The rain helped us a little bit,” Fownes said.

Ho, 29, took his tally for the season to 54 and is well clear in the standings to claim the Tony Cruz Award as the season’s leading homegrown rider. He will head to England during the off-season to connect again with trainer Mark Johnston, who provided him with his first British win at the first attempt aboard X Rated at Haydock last August.