Derek Leung achieves new milestone
Hong Kong rider loses his apprentice allowance after scoring his 250th winner
Derek Leung has lost his 2lb (0.9kg) allowance given to graduates of the Hong Kong Apprentice Jockeys' School, after notching his 250th win as a licensed rider in Hong Kong on Wednesday night.
The rider, whose tally included a Pattern victory in Macau, achieved the landmark when the 5.1 chance Planet Star took the third event at Happy Valley, a 1,650m Class 4 race, for trainer Paul O'Sullivan, his former master.
"It's good, it's been nine or 10 years to get here so I'm happy - I'm just thankful to the owners and trainers that support me," said Leung.
"I've won big races without the claim, so I know that I can do the job without it - the Group 1 win has helped me a lot this season, and this is a big step for my career."
Leung's biggest moment came on Hong Kong International Races Day on Dec 10 last year when he rode Hong Kong's Beauty Generation to capture the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin.
Wednesday night's trophy race was won by Orionids.
Trainer Danny Shum's charge was one of two favourites to salute on the eight-race programme. He did so at odds of 4.3 in the Class 3 Hong Kong Exchanges Challenge Cup Handicap over 1,200m.
Orionids' triumph came at the fourth attempt this term, the gelding having returned to action in February after a 10-month absence.
The strapping five-year-old suffered an injury to his near-fore tendon after securing a win over the distance at Sha Tin last April.
"He's a big horse, and he's very consistent, just look at his form, he's an honest horse and a straightforward ride," said Shum.
Jack Wong drove the chestnut down the inside fence, heading the front-running Gamechangers close home for a half-length score. But that route to success was taken only after a flirtation with a shift away from the rail on the home turn.
"The trainer told me that I should have stayed on the rail and gone through and, in the end, that's what I did. But I was just trying to keep the horse's momentum and keep him comfortable - he's a very big horse, 1,300lb (590kg)," said Wong.
"He quickened and went through with some enthusiasm - he's fit and he's honest and I'm thankful they gave me a chance to ride him."
Shanghai Master was the evening's shortest-priced victor, scoring at odds of 3.4 for trainer Francis Lui.
The four-year-old raced 10 times in Australia for three wins but was a Hong Kong maiden after nine starts before Wednesday night.
"Happy Valley is better for him than Sha Tin. He was panicky and nervous there but he was calmer here," said Lui after jockey Vincent Ho had steered the More Than Ready gelding to a strong length-and-a-quarter success.
"He raced quite a lot in Australia so you'd think he'd be mature but he just needed time to get used to things here." - HKJC