Jack Wong led a charge of homegrown riding talent among the winners at Happy Valley tonight, Wednesday, 31 January. The first six contests on the eight-race card fell to jockeys who earned their ‘spurs’ at Hong Kong’s Apprentice Jockeys’ School.
Wong set the ball rolling in the night’s opener atop Winning Supreme and claimed his brace in the fifth event, the Class 2 Siu Sai Wan Handicap (1650m), in tandem with the John Size-trained Dinozzo (128lb).
“Dinozzo had a good draw in two and I was able to follow the best horse in the race – he settled there very easily,” Wong said after the 7.7 chance had stalked the front-running race favourite, The Golden Age (129lb), and kicked on to hold runner-up Marvel Hero (132lb) by a comfortable length and a quarter. The winning time was 1m 39.18s.
“Once we turned into the straight, there was plenty of room for him to lengthen and he ran strongly through the line for me. He was good,” the apprentice added.
Dinozzo’s win was the 24-year-old’s first from seven rides this term for Size, for whom he has also collected a pair of second-place finishes. Wong notched one win from five for the champion trainer last term.
“Mr. Size has been in contact through the season, it’s just a great opportunity to ride for him, I’m grateful to him. He has lots of good riders riding for him, so it gives me confidence that he gave me this horse to ride tonight,” Wong said.
The Irish-bred Dinozzo is engaged for a quick back-up in this weekend’s feature at Sha Tin, the G3 Centenary Vase Handicap (1800m).
Wong’s 5lb claim was a handy relief too for the high-weighted Winning Supreme (126lb), trained by his boss, Me Tsui. That win atop the 8.7 shot was the rider’s first since 1 November, having returned to action only last Sunday after a near three-month lay-off due to a lower back injury sustained in a race fall.
“It’s a very good day – I knew I had some good rides tonight so I did everything to get myself back in top form,” he said. “It was quite tough – it just took time. The school helped me and Felix Coetzee has given me great support with his training programme – they helped me maintain my fitness.”