Brenton Hopes To Get Happy In The Valley

Happy Valley - starts at 12h45 on Wednesday

Australian jockey Brenton Avdulla feels the time is right to once again test his skills abroad.

Successful in Japan previously, Avdulla will return to ride in Hong Kong on his first short term contract which sees him make his Happy Valley debut on Wednesday with a trio of rides: Loriz, Villa Fionn and Nicconi County.

“I feel it’s nice to test myself on the world stage again. I’ve been in Japan, had several contracts there and it’s nice to be in Hong Kong.

Brenton Avdulla – top jockey (Pic – HKJC)

“I just want to make as many contacts as possible, work hard and try to get some opportunities. That’s all I ask, just to try and get an opportunity to show my ability and hopefully the results will speak for themselves,” Avdulla said.

Appearing at trackwork on Tuesday morning at Sha Tin, the Australian rode in one barrier trial on the dirt after casually greeting local press. His contract runs through to the conclusion of the 2022/23 season, while his initial taste of Hong Kong racing came aboard Hercules when finishing 10th in a Class 3 at the 2019 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races fixture.

“I came here for the international meeting and I was on a mare called In Her Time for the Hong Kong Sprint but she fell lame on race morning,” Avdulla said. “So, I didn’t get to participate in that but we had another steer around that day and it was just good to be here, it gave me a little taste for Hong Kong, but I really enjoyed the event and it’s always been very high up on the list to get here.”

Avdulla’s career began in Melbourne, Australia as an apprentice but flourished after switching to Sydney, where he claimed a pair of wins in the G1 Golden Slipper (1200m) – Australia’s iconic two-year-old contest – aboard Estijaab (2018) and Fireburn (2022).

“I was born in Melbourne, successful there and packed up and went to Sydney. It took me a number of years to get going there and I feel like this could be something similar. There are no immediate targets, I just want to be consistent, give my horses every chance and we’ll see where that leads,” Avdulla said.

A 13-time Group 1 winning rider, Avdulla was previously crowned Sydney Champion Jockey (2017/18), while his top-level haul includes a pair of G1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) wins aboard Secret Admirer (2011) and Ellsberg (2022 [dead-heat with Top Ranked]) as well as a G1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) triumph aboard Snitzerland (2014).

The 32-year-old is perhaps best known for his daring, front-running heroics which made headlines globally aboard 100/1 chance Lasqueti Spirit in the 2016 G1 VRC Oaks (2500m).

Avdulla – who has been based in Sydney for well over 12 years until arriving in Hong Kong – is taking plenty of solace in the continued success Hugh Bowman has enjoyed in the challenging cauldron of Hong Kong racing.

“You look at the calibre of riders from Australia that have come here, obviously Hugh Bowman, he’s here now and how successful he has been. I’ve ridden next to Hughie for a long time and for a number for years now and we’ve fought premierships out together, he’s beaten me and I’ve beaten him.

“So, I take good confidence out of that, that I can come to Hong Kong and be successful given the right opportunities. But we’ll work hard and do that, I can see myself, that if things go well, that the three month stay that I am here for can obviously extend,” Avdulla said.

In the midst of a highly rewarding campaign, Bowman has 47 wins this term and heads to Happy Valley tomorrow night armed with eight rides, including last start winner Nordic Dragon in the second section of the Class 3 Wiltshire Handicap (1200m).

Nordic Dragon lands a third win at Happy Valley under Hugh Bowman

“He (Nordic Dragon) ran very well two starts ago and it wasn’t unexpected to see him do what he did last start. He did it with a bit of authority,” Bowman said.

A HK$7 million purchase out of the 2022 Hong Kong International Sale, Nordic Dragon – by Starspangledbanner – has already returned over half of his price tag and is chasing a fourth win at his seventh start on Wednesday evening for trainer Danny Shum.

“He’s drawn in the middle of the field this time, so I feel like he’s matured mentally across the few times I have been on his back and I don’t see any reason why he can’t repeat that performance,” Bowman said.

The 77-rater steps away from gate six with 135lb assigned against 11 rivals.

Wednesday’s nine-race fixture at Happy Valley kicks off at 12h45 with the Class 5 Chester Handicap.

It’s another chance to win big in the Hollywoodbets Punters’s Challenge!

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