Reigning champion trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai admits it’s been tough slipping back into the pack this season after his heroics of 2019-20 but the veteran is still happy with where he’s placed as he prepares to finish the campaign full of running.
After amassing 67 winners to snare his first title in by far his best season, Yiu has returned to more familiar territory with 26 winners through 68 of the 88 meetings to sit ninth in the premiership.
“It’s a been a tough season. After last season, some of the horses had leg issues and of course some of their ratings were a little bit high,” Yiu said.
“I expected after winning the championship that this season would be a lot slower but generally speaking, I’m still quite happy with what the horses are doing.”
While Yiu entered the season knowing he would be unlikely to defend his title, back in September he did set himself the goal of a top-five finish.
While that won’t happen – Francis Lui Kin-wai sits in fifth place with 51 winners – and Yiu has had to dial back his target, he still believes he’s got more to give in 2020-21.
“I’ve got a good stock of up-and-coming youngsters and there’s still a little bit of time for them this season. I hope to finish top 10 – maybe seventh or eighth – with 30-odd winners,” Yiu said, highlighting Love Me More as one of his progressive types after the four-year-old’s victory at Sha Tin on Sunday.
“There are two or three, Love Me More is one of them, that can perform before the end of the season.”
Among the most intriguing of Yiu’s seven runners at Happy Valley on Wednesday night is Majestic Star, who races at the city circuit for the first time after two midfield finishes at Sha Tin.
The Australian import turned in an impressive effort when winning a Valley trial with Joao Moreira in the saddle for the first time last month and the Brazilian sticks with Majestic Star for the second section of the Class Three Hung Hom Bay Handicap (1,200m), where the galloper has drawn gate one.
“He trialled well and he’s a front-runner. Joao likes him a lot after the trial and he’s got a really good draw. It’s not a particularly strong field so I think he will do his job with Joao on,” Yiu said.
Yiu also saddles up last-start winner Vigor Champ in the first section of the Class Four Ma Tau Wai Handicap (1,200m), while Colonel lines up in the third section of the contest and will have to overcome gate 12 to go one better than his runner-up finish last time out.
“I think Vigor Champ can still perform because he’s lightly raced and he’s still in Class Four,” Yiu said.
“Colonel has held his form really well but unfortunately he’s got a bad draw again and with the top weight it is going to be difficult for him to perform.”