Chad Schofield now has 200 Hong Kong winners to his name but it’s what he can achieve with the horse who helped him land that milestone that really gets him excited.
Fantastic Treasure secured his spot in next season’s Classic Series with another brilliant win at Sha Tin on Sunday – his fifth in a row – and Schofield is relishing the opportunity to partner David Hayes’ rising star.
Even though the 27-year-old already boasts five Group victories at Sha Tin – as well as a Classic Cup aboard Singapore Sling in 2018 – he’s unequivocal about the potential of Fantastic Treasure.
“Yes, he’s the most exciting [horse I’ve ridden in Hong Kong]. He’s just such an impressive horse, he just oozes quality, no matter what you do,” said Schofield, who arrived in Hong Kong at the start of the 2015-16 season.
“I’ve ridden him in all of his starts and in each one of them, he’s progressively improved – mentally and physically.
“Today, I fired him out of the gates. I knew I was going to get caught wide, so I asked him to come back and he came back. Then I picked him up again to take a position and he did that for me.
“He’s just bombproof to ride because he does whatever you want him to do.”
There did seem to be a moment of concern for Fantastic Treasure’s supporters at the top of the straight when he was trapped in a pocket, but Schofield found the gaps when required and the horse did the rest.
He did it so well, he clocked 1:20.59 for the 1,400m, shaving .01 off Golden Sixty’s Class Two record.
“I wasn’t [worried] because he was coming through that quickly, I only needed half a gap and he was going to burst through,” he said.
“I was worried that one tiring horse might wobble in his way but he came through quickly, it was like a knife through butter.
“He’s quality. In this race today, you had Beauty Smile, who’s a Class One winner. You had Not Usual Talent, who had raced behind Beauty Generation.
“This young three-year-old has beaten them at his first go at Class Two, on his first prep and broken Golden Sixty’s record. It’s very exciting.”
Hayes was delighted to see his former apprentice deliver when it mattered.
“Congratulations to Chad, there was a bit of pressure there and it was his 200th winner,” Hayes said. “He took a couple of chances that maybe he didn’t need to but he took the short-cut and won, so all credit to him.
“I was thinking he might be in a little bit of trouble [at the top of the straight]. I knew he was travelling well and I knew when he pushed him it would be fine. He got through and he won so it was a very clever ride as it turned out.
“He had to change direction twice to win. I love the way he can get out of trouble and win – that’s what good horses do.
“I know they’re running fast times today but to do something Golden Sixty has done is a privilege at that stage of his career.”
Fantastic Treasure will now enjoy a break before targeting some features next season.
“He’ll have a good six-week holiday and then we’ll head him towards the four-year-old series,” Hayes said.