South African Grant van Niekerk battled his way to the top of the Hong Kong jockeys’ tree as intriguing early-season battles continued on Saturday.
Tabnews reports that the SA-born Aussie Chad Schofield heralded a “lucky haircut” after an eventful day at Sha Tin.
Both riders jagged doubles under the relentless Saturday sun, with Van Niekerk’s wins on Gorgeous King and Triumphant Jewel enough to see him draw level with reigning champion Zac Purton on five wins at the top of the jockeys’ championship log.
Van Niekerk admits he has surprised even himself with his haul of five winners from the first five meetings after making the move from South Africa – but is realistic about where he stands.
“Hong Kong’s quite hard and obviously you have to work your way to the top over here,” he said. “I’m not saying I’m at the top but I’m certainly getting the chances.
“I got to Hong Kong two weeks before the jockeys came back so I was putting in the hard work and obviously it’s paying off. As long as you are on the good side with the trainers and the owners, you will do well.
“You have to have the horse underneath you in order to do well and I feel like I’m getting the chances, but you still have to produce the result. I mainly just try to be as confident as I can on them and it’s paying off.”