Punters’ pals Ruan Maia and Keith Yeung make belated bows hoping for more positive returns this seas




Punters’ pals Ruan Maia and Keith Yeung Ming-lun – two of the four Hong Kong jockeys who showed a positive return on investment last season – make their belated bows at Happy Valley on Wednesday.


No rider was more lucrative to back blindly in Hong Kong last term than Maia, whose supporters would have made 23 per cent on their money if they had backed each of his 350 starters to level stakes.


Dylan Mo Hin-tung (10 per cent), Yeung (5 per cent) and Luke Currie (3 per cent) were the other jockeys with positive returns on investment last season, putting them in the good books of punters willing to wager away from the obvious.


A careless riding suspension Maia incurred aboard Stormtrouper in the final Happy Valley meeting last term prevented the two-time Macau champion jockey from competing on this season’s first three days.


Maia has served his time on the sidelines and his three conveyances on Wednesday include one of his favourites, Cordyceps One, on whom he posted back-to-back victories in the space of 21 June days last season.


“I’ve had luck with this horse. I’ve ridden him three times for two wins. He’s shown he’s improved, and I’m happy to ride him in my first meeting,” said Maia, whose last campaign featured 27 winners.


“I believe the trainer has got this horse in great form. He’s put him back to 1,200m for his first run because the horse is still a bit fresh, so it’ll give him a chance to travel nicely and hit the line.”

Maia was delighted to see Cordyceps One draw gate five in Wednesday’s Class Four Quarry Bay Handicap (1,200m) after jumping from barrier 11 in two of his three races on the five-year-old gelding’s back.


“Two times I rode him I got wide draws, so I was happy to get a good draw this time. It should give me more chance to ride him more comfortably in the early stages and wait for the straight,” Maia said.


“I believe he has a good percentage chance to win the race, and I’ll try my best.”


As well as partnering Cordyceps One for Francis Lui Kin-wai, Maia will steer Passing Fashion for Dennis Yip Chor-hong in the Class Five Tai Hang Handicap (1,800m) and Fortune Hero for Richard Gibson in the Class Five Shau Kei Wan Handicap (1,200m), while Yeung will contest the latter aboard Michael Chang Chun-wai’s Euromissile.


Meanwhile, Beauty Joy is on track to resume in the Group Two Sha Tin Trophy (1,600m) on October 16 following his first preparatory exercise since winning the Premier Cup (1,400m) at Group Three level three months ago.


Reminiscent of his last-start success, Beauty Joy was tardy away before rallying in the straight during the first of Tuesday morning’s Sha Tin trials.


“He thought he was back at the races, didn’t he? He was slow out of the gates and didn’t want to take part early, but the pleasing part was he wanted to be competitive in the straight,” said Zac Purton, who renewed his association with Beauty Joy.


“I didn’t him ask for anything, he crept a bit and he wanted to chase the other horses himself. I liked that. As long as he can keep his head down and race tractably through the middle stages of races, he’s going to give himself a chance wherever he goes.


“He’ll have another trial and then run in the 1,600m first-up. From there, I think he’ll go to the [Group Three Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse (1,800m)] and then they’ll assess whether he runs in the mile or the 2,000m [on November 20].”


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