One win shy of 400 Hong Kong victories, Vincent Ho is optimistic Stronger can replicate his explosive first-up deeds from last season by eclipsing class opposition in the Group 3 National Day Cup Handicap (1000m) at Sha Tin on Friday (1 October).
Hong Kong’s most successful Group 1 jockey last season with five spoils at the highest level, Ho has enjoyed 399 victories since debuting in the jurisdiction in 2009/10. Acclaimed last term as leading local rider for the third time with the Tony Cruz Award, Ho has posted three wins this season and hopes Stronger can contend for Douglas Whyte tomorrow afternoon.
Ho partnered the mercurial chestnut to victory at Class 2 level when resuming over the 1000m course as a 94-rater last November and is confident the Not A Single Doubt horse is primed to fire.
“He’s a tough little horse. Douglas has him working very well. He told me he feels well and I’m really happy with him,” Ho said. “He won last season fresh-up. In a 1000 metre race, there’ll be plenty of pace and he doesn’t have to be too quiet – as long as he relaxes, he’ll have a good pick up.”
In a separate milestone scenario, Jerry Chau partners Lucky Patch (124lb) for Francis Lui in the sprint feature, hopeful of landing a 70th Hong Kong victory and ending his apprenticeship.
Karis Teetan, who accompanies Computer Patch in the National Day Cup, is confident he can correct a frustrating run of minor placings after making a superb start to the season.
The Mauritian posted four victories from his first 12 rides of the 2021/22 term, including an opening-day treble on 5 September, but has since added just one win – a tally dwarfed by 13 seconds.
“I always try to win on every horse, it’s frustrating when you have so many seconds. But this is Hong Kong and you have to box through the slow patch and things will turn. I just have to keep my head up and keep going,” he said before turning attention to Tony Cruz’s Computer Patch.
“I’m happy to get back on him. I rode him early last season and I always thought the horse was going to improve into a better horse later on, so it will be exciting to be back on him again.
“He looks like he trialled well in Conghua, he’s in good shape and he’s won well over 1000 metres before. He’s going to have to carry a bit more weight (127lb) and there’s a few horses we have to respect – Stronger looks like he’s going well and Super Wealthy (113lb), with that light weight, we have to respect them.”
Four-time champion jockey Zac Purton will be sidelined in the National Day Cup Handicap following the scratching of John Size-trained Beauty Applause, who has been replaced by standby starter Lucky More, but has plenty to occupy his focus on the undercard.
The Australian combines with Chris So-trained first starter Good News in the first section of the Class 4 Chengdu Handicap (1200m), hopeful the Rios gelding can validate a promising trial third behind Californiadeepshot and Sky Field at Sha Tin on 21 September.
“If he could take that trial to the races, he’d give himself a good chance,” Purton said.
“He’s shown a little bit. He had a tendency to want to get his head up and go a bit hard and do a little bit wrong. We got him in behind in a couple of trials and he seems to have accepted it now and he got around the corner quite nice.
“Race day is a different type of pressure and I just need to try and get the right kind of run on him and see if he can handle it.”
Purton will also be atop Nervous Witness in the Class 3 Shanghai Handicap (1000m), where he expects the explosive newcomer to face a tougher test than at his debut Class 4 romp.
“There looks like there’s a lot of pressure in the race as well, so no doubt they’ll try and serve it up to me, whether it’s to the benefit of their own horse or not, they’re not going to make it easy for him,” Purton said.
“He only had that one soft trial going into that first-up run this season, I think he’s come on since that run. He’s an exciting horse and I’m looking forward to riding him again.”