Horse Racing
Leung wants a Jumbo win at Happy Valley this Sunday

By David Morgan
27/10/2017 14:57

A rare Sunday (29 October) card at Happy Valley this weekend carries 10 races, including a competitive Class 2 closer, the Yip Fat Handicap, in which jockey Derek Leung is aiming to maintain his recent momentum with a victory aboard the promising Jumbo Luck (115lb).

Leung enjoyed the biggest win of his career last Sunday when driving Beauty Generation to a narrow victory in the Group 2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy. The Hong Kong Apprentice Jockeys’ School graduate then took his tally for the season to eight with a score at the city track mid-week.

“I hope I can keep it up,” Leung said during track work at Sha Tin on Friday morning (27 October). “I’m riding with more confidence and it’s a little bit easier to get on the better horses, so I hope it can continue. But, Hong Kong style, if you miss a meeting everyone quickly forgets about you!”

Leung takes the ride on Jumbo Luck with the gelding’s past two partners, Karis Teetan and Joao Moreira, both suspended. Champion Jockey Moreira steered trainer Francis Lui’s charge to a brace of 1200m wins at Sha Tin to round out last term, while Teetan filled in for the five-year-old’s first-up fifth behind the well-regarded Pingwu Spark on 1 October.

Jumbo Luck lands his third career win at Sha Tin last June.
Jumbo Luck lands his third career win at Sha Tin last June.

“He won quite well in a couple of easier races last season, so he’s gone up quite a lot in the handicap, but we saw last time that in Class 2 he’s still very honest,” Leung said. “It was his first start this season and his first at the class and it wasn’t a bad run.”

Leung has not partnered Jumbo Luck in any of his six races to date but has held the reins in each of the bay’s latest two fast gallops, latterly an 800m all-weather hit out in 51.9s (28.7, 23.2). That was on Thursday.

“I’ve galloped him a couple of times and in the morning he’s quite lazy, he always comes back pretty easy because he didn’t work as strongly as he might, he’s very relaxed,” the rider said.

“Last time, he ran close to the pace, kicked on and seemed to just tire at the end. I think he’s still improving and I expect he can get a little bit better but Class 2 is different and he needs to show that he’s good enough.

Southern Legend chases Pingwu Spark with Jumbo Luck fifth.

“He’s going to race at Happy Valley for the first time and luckily he has a good draw (gate three). He’s fairly straightforward, so going there shouldn’t be a problem.”

The 12-strong field also features the smart Caspar Fownes-trained Southern Legend (129lb), a course and distance winner and runner-up in that same Pingwu Spark race last time. That was the five-year-old’s fourth local start since importing to Hong Kong as a multiple-winning G2-placed galloper in Australia.

Chadwick’s Golden contender

In the afternoon’s penultimate contest, the Class 2 Wong Chuk Hang Handicap (1650m), The Golden Age (123lb) will attempt to bring G3-winning French form to bear. Trainer Tony Cruz’s charge won the G3 Prix La Rochette (1400m) and was fourth in the G1 Prix Jean Luc Lagardere in 2016 when known as Kontrastat.

Like so many imports, the My Risk gelding struggled to acclimatise initially and showed little in three runs last term, but with that experience under his belt, the chestnut seems to be finding his feet.

“He’s come back a better horse, he’s come back fitter, he’s more mature now and his trial showed that he’s improved. Hopefully he can take that to the races,” said rider Matthew Chadwick, who was up top when The Golden Age skipped along on the front end to pass the post ahead of some useful gallopers in a Happy Valley barrier trial earlier this month.

The Golden Age passes the post first at a Happy Valley trial earlier this month.

“He went well over the 1700 (metres) that day and he had trouble with the shorter distances last year so Sunday’s distance shouldn’t be a problem,” he continued. “It’s very early days: he’s only a three-year-old. Last year he was very immature and hadn’t acclimatised. He looks like a better horse but he’s still got to prove it on race day so we’ll take it one step at a time.”

Last start winner Sichuan Dar (129lb) heads the weights under Umberto Rispoli, who takes over from the suspended Chad Schofield. The Tony Millard-trained runner is a three-time course and distance winner in the grade.

“With a better draw he’d have a better chance,” Rispoli said. “Drawn 11, it’s not impossible, but it makes things a lot harder for him. We know at Happy Valley that the draw often makes a difference but at least it’s the A track and that could be a little advantage – horses come from behind. He’s in good form and he has every right to be one of the horses to be competitive in the race.”

The former Italian champion, who holds the record for most wins (245) in a season in his homeland, takes over on another last time winner in race eight, the Class 3 Tai Shue Wan Handicap (1650m), when he sides with the Cruz-trained Gold Land (132lb). The four-year-old was a two-time winner in Britain as Smuggler’s Moon.

Gold Land breaks his local maiden at Happy Valley last start.
Gold Land breaks his local maiden at Happy Valley last start.

“He won nicely last time for Sam (Clipperton) and it looks like he’s improved from last season. He has a good draw (gate two) but he’s not really a fast horse, but then it’s better to be there than on the outside. It looks like Tony Cruz’s horses are back on form and he’s a good chance.”

Clipperton is booked for the David Ferraris-trained Nitro Express (127lb), and the 12-strong field also features the likes of Jumbo Happiness (130lb) and Flying Quest (130lb).

Sunday’s card starts at 1pm with the Class 5 Heung Yip Handicap (2200m).