Horse Racing
Vincent Ho resumes with high hopes for Dream Winner

By Leo Schlink
15/09/2023 16:07

Dream Winner bursts clear to maintain his unbeaten record.
Dream Winner bursts clear to maintain his unbeaten record.

Sidelined with serious injury during Hong Kong racing’s off-season, Vincent Ho hopes Dream Winner can provide the perfect return to competition when Frankie Lor’s unbeaten sprinter contests the Class 2 Causeway Bay Handicap (1000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (17 September).

Four-time winner of the Tony Cruz Award as Hong Kong’s leading home-grown jockey, Ho will take four mounts at the weekend as he plots a conservative course back to full capacity after suffering a fractured T5 vertebra, concussion and a rib fracture in a race fall at Niigata Racecourse in Japan on 29 July.

“It’s good to be back and looking forward for Sunday,” Ho, 33, said before riding in trials at Sha Tin this morning. “It was a massive fall and a serious injury on the spine. It’s better to be cautious about. I’m grateful the Club never pushed me, even the CEO (Mr Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges) was asking me to be patient.

Vincent Ho rode a career-best 96 wins in the 2022/23 season.
Vincent Ho rode a career-best 96 wins in the 2022/23 season.

“I’m feeling confident. The first two days back riding, I still had some doubts but the past few days I’ve felt completely fine and got my confidence back that I won’t feel pain on a horse.”

Ho is excited over Dream Winner’s potential after the now four-year-old reeled off a trio of victories over Sha Tin’s 1000m course last season. The Exosphere gelding will carry only 120lb in his Class 2 debut on Sunday, when he faces Kurpany (133lb), Ping Hai Galaxy (130lb), We Are Hero (129lb), Whizz Kid (129lb) and Carroll Street (124lb).

“He (Dream Winner) has got nice potential, a big baby – he’s still got plenty to learn but has definitely got potential. I galloped him yesterday (Thursday, 14 September) and he felt nice. Let’s see how he goes on Sunday – first race of the season after a break,” Ho said.

“He’s still mentally a bit immature, but I think he’s fine. We’ll see how much he has improved this season, he’s still a baby and still got a lot to learn so let’s see how quickly he can do that.

“He’ll need more experience and education, but I think he shows he can go longer (in distance), but we’ll see how he will handle the turns (in future). He’ll have to learn all of that later.”

Lyle Hewitson is hoping to enjoy another strong season.
Lyle Hewitson is hoping to enjoy another strong season.

Lyle Hewitson, who rode 50 winners last season, is optimistic Dragon’s Luck can enhance a consistent record with a good showing in the Class 3 Admiralty Handicap (1200m), where he will face five last-start winners – Super Fortune, Joyful Hunter, Let’s Do It, California Vanes and Fun N Glory.

“Last season, he (Dragon’s Luck) put together a good string of wins and he was consistent throughout the season bar the one run where he had the excuses. He came back in pretty good form and I think this season his trials have shown he’s still in good form,” Hewitson said.

“We’ve got a good draw, hopefully he can put up a good performance and get back to his winning ways. His form is strong, he’s a lovely horse and the day he fluffed his lines, he had a genuine excuse. You really can’t fault him, he’s done really well.”

Sunday’s (17 September) Sha Tin card starts with the Class 3 Tai Hang Handicap (1200m, dirt) at 1pm.