Fresh from a career-defining victory on Beauty Generation in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile on Sunday (10 December), rider Derek Leung is hoping to continue his rich vein of form when he is legged aboard Golden Harvest in the Class 3 Roselle Handicap (1200m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (13 December).
Golden Harvest wins the HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup at the 2014/15 season opener
One of Hong Kong’s most popular riders, Leung said he was overwhelmed by the response to his win in the Mile, in which he became only the second local jockey – after Matthew Chadwick – to win one of the four LONGINES Hong Kong International Races.
“I still can’t quite believe it, I’m very happy,” he said at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning (12 December). “Hearing the crowd cheering for me, people yelling my name out from the grandstand and seeing all the people so excited when I walked back in, it was an amazing day. I have never had anything like that. The horse gave me everything, he is so honest.
“We didn’t have a big celebration as my wife Kit is not far from giving birth. Now I’m just looking forward to Wednesday.”
Leung is one of only two riders to have a full book of rides at the city track on Wednesday night, the other being reigning Champion Jockey Joao Moreira. Of his eight mounts, though, it is nine-year-old Golden Harvest who creates the most interest in the night’s final race as he seeks his first victory in over three years.
Back then, Golden Harvest was among the cream of Hong Kong’s crop, a feature of the big dance rather than a headline of the after party. A winner of the Class 1 HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup (1200m) in September, 2014 – his last victory – he progressed to finish fifth in the 2014 Hong Kong Sprint behind Aerovelocity. For that run, he reached a career zenith at a mark of 115.
Since then, though, he has slowly declined through the ratings to reach his current spot of 75. He has only finished in the placings twice in 23 starts since, including a last-start third in a 1200m Class 3 at Happy Valley with Leung in the saddle.
“Last time, he ran well,” Leung said. “He was honest and tried hard all the way to the line. Since then, he had a trial and it was a really nice effort on the dirt. I think it’s good that he goes in fresh and I think he can win again, finally.
“He is getting old but he can win a race in Class 3, I think he’s still good enough for that.”
Golden Harvest (128lb) meets 11 rivals in the nightcap, including last-start winner California Fortune (130lb) as well as Gamechangers (126lb) and G-One Lover (118lb), both in the placings last time out.
The Roselle Handicap comes up at 10.50pm, with the opener, the Class 5 Aster Handicap (1650m), beginning the card at 7.15pm.