By David Morgan, Hong Kong Jockey Club
Vincent Ho collected his 300th Hong Kong win at Happy Valley tonight (Wednesday, 5 February) when he delivered Massive Pocket on a late burst to land section two of the Class 3 Sports Road Handicap (1200m).
Fittingly, Ho’s main patron Francis Lui provided the milestone success, a win that edged the handler to a narrow lead in the trainer’s premiership. The rider was, as ever, level-headed in victory – landmark or not – as he rounded out the card with a hat-trick in the night’s final three contests.
“I’m definitely pleased to reach the 300 but I didn’t really count the numbers, I just knew when people told me I was almost there,” Ho said.
“Massive Pocket ran well from that gate (12) – he jumped ok and I knew the pace was on so I slotted in and got him to relax. But the horse I was following wasn’t going anywhere, he wasn’t helping at all, and the one on the inside was just staying there so I couldn’t get on the fence – eventually, and luckily, the gap opened on the inside and he flew home.
“He has a good turn-of-foot but a very short sprint so it actually helped him when I got held up a little bit – he was able to produce that short burst.”
Just one race after hitting the round number, Ho moved onto 301 when he drove Naboo Star home for his old master Caspar Fownes.
“Vincent has always shown that he had a lot of potential as a jockey,” Fownes said of his former stable apprentice. “He’s worked to hone his skills and now he’s the real deal – you could take him anywhere in the world, put him on any horse and he’s going to get the job done.”
That is due in no small part to the rider’s dedication in heading to Europe each year to learn and develop. He has spent the past two summers in England based at Mark Johnston’s stable and prior to that he gained valuable experience over several off-season stints in France,
“He’s up there, he’s a world class jockey,” Fownes continued. “He rides them very cool, he’s in the zone, his timing is really good and he’s got a clock in his head for pace. He’s doing really well and I’m proud of him, and he deserves all the success he’s having.”
Ho stormed the last race, section one of the Class 3 Sports Road Handicap (1200m) on the Lui-trained This Is Class to take his season’s tally to 34 wins, of which 14 have been in tandem with Lui including the recent Hong Kong Classic Mile on Golden Sixty.
Lui, meanwhile, moved ahead of long-time championship leader Ricky Yiu with 35 wins thanks to his own treble on the night, initiated when Matthew Chadwick drove the 32/1 shot Fox Cheunger to success in the opener, the Class 5 Bowrington Handicap (1200m).