SA champion Keagan De Melo is optimistic the Pierre Ng-trained Happy Angel can be rewarded for his consistency when the gelding tackles the second section of the Class 4 Middle Gap Handicap at Happy Valley on Friday.
Despite winning only once so far in Hong Kong, the grey has amassed more than HK$2.8 million in prizemoney after accumulating 10 minor placings – six seconds and four thirds – since arriving from Richard Hannon’s yard in England.
“He’s a horse who really deserves a win,” De Melo said.
“He’s finding his form very nicely and I seem to know him a little bit better each time I ride him, so just hopefully it’s his day.
“I thought it (last start) was a courageous run in defeat and if he performs like that again, you’ll see the best of him again. If he gets the run of the race, you’ll see the best version of him and I’m looking forward to riding him.”
Seeking to consolidate his position in the Hong Kong jockeys’ championship top 10, Jerry Chau hopes Danny Shum-trained See U Again can add to his tally of wins in the second section of the Class 4 Pat Sin Leng Handicap (1200m).
With 12 victories this term so far, Chau is well placed to better the 22 he posted last season.
“I think he’s (See U Again) in good form now, he’s always run well from a good draw and I’m looking forward to this run,” Chau said. “Hopefully he can get cover (from barrier four) and he can settle and finish strongly.
“He has won only once before but he hopefully he can get a good position and run well again.”
Bidding to increase his lead in the Hong Kong jockeys’ championship, Zac Purton hopes to build on a flourishing partnership with Francis Lui when the pair links up with Silver Sonic in the Class 3 Pak Tam Au Handicap (1650m).
Six-time Hong Kong champion Purton has had only 11 rides this season for Lui but has converted strongly with four wins and two minor placings for the veteran trainer, who sits second in the 2023/24 trainers’ standings with 24 victories to trail only Pierre Ng (39).
“He (Lui) trains a lot of winners so he’s a good man to be riding for – I don’t ride a lot for him but when I do, they’re generally chances and they run to form so it’s good to be getting some support from the stable,” Purton said.
Purton retains the mount on Silver Sonic following the pair’s emphatic win during the LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship at Happy Valley on 6 December.
“I thought his win was good, he’s still lightly-raced, got himself into a good spot albeit amongst runners during the run but when the gap presented, I thought he got through there nicely,” Purton said. “I was quite taken with his last performance. He seems to be going the right way.”
With 47 wins for the campaign – 14 more than nearest pursuer Karis Teetan (33) – Purton will look to take advantage of barrier two aboard Silver Sonic tomorrow night.
“I won’t have to try and chase a position, I’ll just fall into one that is comfortable for me and hopefully we can get a similar run to last time,” he said.
Happy Valley’s eight-race card starts with the Class 5 Tung Wan Shan Handicap (2200m) at 13h10. Don’t miss your chance to grab a slice of the Hollywoodbets Punters’ Challenge action!