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Silvestre de Sousa picks up Excellent ride and Ricky Yiu books Mickael Barzalona for Bubble

Excellent Fighter, the only horse Australian jockey Jye McNeil won aboard during his frustrating short stint in Hong Kong, puts his unbeaten record on the line under Silvestre de Sousa in Saturday’s Class Four Rose Handicap (1,000m) at Sha Tin.

Not everything went Excellent Fighter’s way during his triumphant debut five weeks ago. He leaned on the outside of his stall and began awkwardly before struggling to obtain clear running when the field, compacted because of the pedestrian tempo of the race’s early stages, accelerated after halfway.

McNeil, who had ridden Excellent Fighter in each of his two November trials, pushed the newcomer through the tightest of gaps, and the pair went on to score by a head from Harry Bentley and Double Show.

“It was expected he’d run well,” said Excellent Fighter’s trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai. “All of his trials had been good. Even with interference, he still managed to win. That was a good effort from the horse and he’s kept improving after the run.

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