Jockey Vincent Ho is hoping for better luck aboard Shanghai Master when the four-year-old tackles the Class 3 Harbour View Handicap (1200m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (21 March).
Shanghai Master finished in the placings for the first time in nine Hong Kong starts last time out when third to Fortune Booth on 7 March. That night, with Ho in the saddle, he was trapped deep throughout, producing a tough effort to finish only a length and a half from the winner.
“He handles Happy Valley quite well, I think,” Ho said at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning (20 March).
“He won a trial there before his last start, Joao (Moreira) rode him there and he looked good. Last time, he ran well, he was caught wide all the way. Hopefully, with a nicer draw this time (gate four), perhaps he can get a better position. If he can, I think he’s going to be a good chance.”
The Francis Lui-trained Shanghai Master, a Listed winner in Western Australia when named Lusaha, has taken time to acclimatise but Ho feels the son of More Than Ready is on an upward spiral now.
“He’s feeling like he’s getting better in the mornings and he is looking like he is reaching form,” Ho said. “Sometimes, it can just take a little bit of time for these new horses. He had a few runs at Sha Tin which have helped him to build fitness, so I think he is almost ready.”
The Harbour View Handicap, the last of eight races, also features last-start place-getters Exceptional Desire (117lb) and Most Beautiful (116lb), while the promising Cheerfuljet (122lb) will attempt to return to form after a poor effort last time out.
The card’s trophy race is the Class 3 Hong Kong Exchanges Challenge Cup Handicap (1200m), the fifth event. In an open race, Karis Teetan maintains his partnership with David Ferraris’ honest galloper Fantastic Feeling, who is back down to a rating of 73 – the mark at which he was successful twice last season over this course and distance.
“David has him in good form and his recent runs have been good,” Teetan said.
“He’s come down a few points now, which he needed. Before, he was always carrying big weights – I think only once in the last two seasons has he carried lighter than the 126lb he has tomorrow night – and it was very difficult for him to drop points because he was consistent.
“He should be suited here, he doesn’t want you to be chasing him too much so if the pace is on – which it looks like it will be – then he will be suited for sure.”
Teetan departs for Japan after Wednesday night’s races to take the ride on the Ricky Yiu-trained Blizzard in Sunday’s (25 March) Group 1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen at Chukyo.
The Mauritian rider, who sits equal third in the jockeys’ championship with Nash Rawiller, starts a deferred suspension after Sunday’s race and, after Happy Valley on Wednesday, will not ride again in Hong Kong until 8 April.
“Hopefully, we can get a winner, but it is a great honour to be able to go and ride Blizzard,” he said. “Hopefully, we can do Hong Kong proud.”
The Hong Kong Exchanges Challenge Cup Handicap is scheduled for 9.15pm, with the opener, the Class 5 Man Cheung Handicap (2200m), set to begin the card at 7.15pm.