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Matthew Chadwick ‘really eager to ride a winner’ as he attacks Million Challenge on return from inju

After eight weeks on the sidelines with a fractured ankle, the star local jockey is as hungry as ever and is hoping to lift Excellent Peers to the HK$650,000 first prize

He spent longer than hoped on the sidelines with a fractured ankle and jockey Matthew Chadwick says he is “really eager to ride a winner” when he returns for Wednesday night’s DBS x Manulife Million Challenge finale at Happy Valley.

Chadwick admits he had to cool his jets a touch during his eight-week absence, which came after he fell from Plentiful before a Sha Tin barrier trial in December and required surgery.

“It was fractured and there were some fragments, so they had to put a plate in and some screws to make sure it was all in order and it was going to heal properly,” Chadwick said.

“I had a date in mind. When I got injured they gave me a bit of a timeline, and I was hoping to be back sooner.

“I was hoping to be back for the Classic Mile [on January 29], but it just seemed like too much of a rush and I had to give it a couple more weeks for the bone to heal properly. The last two to three weeks it has really come on well.”

No stranger to injury at times during his career, Chadwick has built some good continuity in recent seasons. After winning the Tony Cruz Award for the leading local jockey with 55 victories last term, he started this campaign strongly and still sits seventh in the jockeys’ premiership on 17 wins despite his absence.

“I was hoping it was slightly smoother coming back than it has been, but I’ve been able to pick up a few horses, so there’s a bit of support still there,” Chadwick said.

“Hopefully, all the hard work I’ve done previously – especially last season – will show sooner rather than later, because I’m really eager to ride a winner.”

Chadwick will look to put Excellent Peers in the frame for Million Challenge glory in the Class Three Sing Woo Handicap (1,200m), where only a victory will do for Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s charge as he chases the HK$650,000 first prize.

Excellent Peers sits third behind Street Scream – whom he faces on Wednesday night – and leader Nearly Fine. He needs to win himself and see Nearly Fine miss the top two in the following race to pocket the loot for connections.

“I was hoping to ride a couple more who had chances in the Million Challenge on the particular date I wanted to be back for, but unfortunately, it didn’t roll that way,” Chadwick said.

“But Excellent Peers is an honest horse, he runs his races and last week he ran a decent race. It didn’t seem too hard of a race for him, so hopefully, he can turn the tables and win this time,” he added of a galloper whom he won twice aboard earlier this season.

Chadwick also climbs on Grateful Heart, Exceptional Nice and California Deeply, with the latter chasing a third win – and second under Chadwick – at his fifth Hong Kong start.

“He was quite unlucky in his last run,” Chadwick said of California Deeply. “He had to give up a couple of lengths at an unsuitable time of the race, and he only just got beaten. He’s got a bit of class about him, so hopefully, he can win.”

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