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Angus Chung thinking Happy thoughts about Australian adventure ahead of Valley debut

Apprentice jockey Angus Chung Yik-lai says Happy Valley reminds him of the Australian racecourse on which he was most successful during the two and a half years he spent learning his craft overseas.

Chung, whom Jockey Club officials granted permission to accept Happy Valley race rides late last month, is set to steer Viva Popcorn and Copartner Ambition on Wednesday’s nine-race card at the city circuit.

Based on Chung’s experience of partnering six horses across the past two Happy Valley trial sessions, he thinks the venue with its 1,450m circumference and 310m straight is similar to the Port Lincoln track.

Chung rode 13 winners at Port Lincoln, the regional racecourse on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula that has a turning circumference of 1,550m, a sweeping curve from its 900m marker to its 280m straight and a fitting reputation for favouring on-speed runners.

“I’ve ridden at Happy Valley a couple of times in barrier trials,” said Chung, who tackles his next test full of confidence after his win aboard Young Victory in Class Four grade at Sha Tin on Sunday.

“The track in the trials gave me pretty much the same feeling as some of South Australia’s tight tracks. I think it’s most like Port Lincoln.

“I’ve got experience [of racing on tight tracks], but I’ll still take my time. There’s no rush, and hopefully, I won’t get in any trouble out there.”

Chung’s boss, Tony Cruz, has booked his indentured jockey to ride Viva Popcorn in the Class Four Bridges Handicap (1,650m) and Copartner Ambition in the Class Three Tai Ping Shan Handicap (1,200m).

Viva Popcorn finished fifth under Chung at Sha Tin in his final trial ahead of his reappearance, while Copartner Ambition got to know the 26-year-old jockey during some recent trackwork exercises.

Even though Jockey Club officials have not attached any conditions to their approval for Chung to race at Happy Valley, the apprentice has decided to ride there for his master exclusively in the short term.

“In the first couple of Happy Valley meetings, I won’t take any outside rides. I’ll just ride for my boss, Mr Cruz,” said Chung, who has saluted the judge six times at Sha Tin this season.

“We’ve discussed how Happy Valley is a little bit tricky with its tight turns. I have to know the track first. I’ll probably start taking outside rides for the meeting there on November 23.”

Trainers’ championship leader Cruz has declared five gallopers – Viva Popcorn, Champion Dragon, Whizz Kid, California Deeply and Copartner Ambition – at the midweek meeting.

Whizz Kid is three from three over Happy Valley’s 1,000m trip, while California Deeply is a Hong Kong newcomer, who won a Warwick Farm maiden over 1,100m for Australian handlers Peter and Paul Snowden.

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