All You Know played a role in Silvestre de Sousa’s dazzling LONGINES International Jockeys Championship triumph back in December and the Brazilian ace is banking on the Richard Gibson-trained galloper to step up for him once again on Wednesday night at Happy Valley.
De Sousa is in the midst of an impressive short-term winter contract in Hong Kong, blitzing his way to 33 wins and a famous G1 score on Glorious Forever in the city’s biggest of all races, the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup. That already ranks as the best short-term stint in recent memory - most riders would do well to hit double digits - and it looks like going on for a little while longer.
“I want to extend my (three-month) licence for another month, to the end of March,” de Sousa confirmed this morning, Tuesday, 19 February.
That extension beyond the end of February still needs formal approval from the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Licensing Committee, but the application has been made and the firm expectation is that Britain’s three-time champion jockey will continue to tear up Sha Tin and Happy Valley through 24 March.
“It has been a dream come true and I’ve managed to get a Group 2 and a Group 1 winner under the belt so I’m very pleased with all of the support I’ve had - I couldn’t do it without that,” he said.
“I hope to get a few more winners: I’d love to get to 40; that would be my target.”
De Sousa can move closer to that goal midweek when he goes to war with a full book across eight races. All You Know wraps up the night in the Class 3 Tsuen Wan Handicap (1650m) with the powerful lightweight back aboard the horse whose third-place finish bolstered his winning points haul at the IJC.
Since then, the galloper has stepped out to place second at the course and distance under Joao Moreira, having started from wide in gate 11.
“It was a fantastic run last time,” De Sousa observed. “Maybe the race wasn’t run to suit him. He finished very strongly and if he puts the same performance in it should be the time for him to win.”
Silvestre de Sousa, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
A Boom for Chadwick
The Gibson stable will send out smart Irish import Loving A Boom in the Class 3 Sai Kung Handicap. The four-year-old has shown promise in only four Hong Kong starts and was second to the well-regarded Tornado Twist two races back, but was 10th of 14 last time when stretched to 1400m.
“If he puts it all together, he’s good enough to win,” jockey Matthew Chadwick said. “If he doesn’t, we’ll see a similar sort of performance as before - he just needs to click mentally. He’s got the ability, it’s all about his head.”
Chadwick is banking on a first run at the Valley and a return to 1200m to unlock the Acclamation gelding’s potential.
“The hope is that dropping back to 1200 metres and taking him to Happy Valley, with the faster pace, will catch him a bit off-guard. He won’t have as much time to think about it around there,” he said.
The former champion apprentice enjoyed a good run of results early in the campaign but has had to battle for his two wins since the turn of the year. His season’s tally stands at 13.
Chadwick, though has seven rides on the Wednesday card and will guide the Benno Yung-trained Cinquante Cinq in one of the evening’s two trophy races, the Class 4 Rotary Centenary Challenge Cup Handicap (1650m). The Tavistock four-year-old was a smart third on debut last month for the rider.
“We expected him to run well; unfortunately the pace was a bit slow. It being his first, run, we were reluctant to take off ourselves around Happy Valley,” Chadwick said.
“He seemed to improve on that run so hopefully if he can step up off that he’ll be a couple of lengths closer. He’s definitely got some upside.”
The night’s other trophy contest is the Class 4 Volunteers’ Challenge Cup Handicap (1200m), and Zac Purton is slated to take over from the suspended Moreira atop the John Size-trained three-year-old Champion’s Way.
The top-weight made a winning career debut at the track and trip three weeks ago.
“Like a lot of John’s horses, they keep improving as they go along. His trials were nothing flash but he didn’t do anything flash on race day either yet he got the job done,” said Purton, who limped away stoically from Tuesday’s barrier trials after taking a bash to the knee in the starting gate.
“He seemed to get a little bit lost around there but he was still able to win so that’s a good sign,” he added.
The eight-race card starts at 7.15pm with the Class 5 Fanling Handicap (1200m).