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What you’ve missed in the Hong Kong racing off-season

There’s been no racing in Hong Kong for more than seven weeks but there’s still been plenty happening. Here are some of the off-season’s more newsworthy events.

Jockey Club launches Trainer Challenge

The Jockey Club will offer its punters another form of fixed-price wagering in 2022-23, with the Trainer Challenge launching at Sunday’s season opener at Sha Tin.

Like the Jockey Challenge, trainers will earn 12 points for a win, six for second and four for a third-placed finish.

The introduction of the Trainer Challenge means the Winning Trainer Composite Win will be suspended.

The Jockey Club also confirmed a boost for certain punters, with the rebates currently available for local races expanding to include simulcast races.

Any losing win, place, quinella, quinella place and merged pool win bet of HK$10,000 or above will receive a rebate of 6 per cent, with the rebate applicable to single, all up or cross pool all-up bets.

Ho among the winners in Japan

Jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu booted home five winners from 64 rides during his first stint in Japan, with his trip highlighted by a Group Three victory for superstar trainer Yoshito Yahagi, who Ho also teamed up with to take out the 2021 QE II Cup at Sha Tin aboard Loves Only You.

While in Japan, Ho competed in the World All-Star Jockeys series at Sapporo in late August, finishing joint seventh behind local star Yutaka Take.

Alexis Badel was another to jump in the saddle during his break, failing to salute from five rides in France, while Vagner Borges was among the winners in Brazil.

Jockeys limp to the start line

Joao Moreira is not the only jockey who will miss the start of the season, with Keith Yeung Ming-lun ruled out of the opener after testing positive to Covid-19.

Jerry Chau Chun-lok has also been under an injury cloud, missing trackwork and trials last week as he underwent treatment for lower back pain, but he will return to trackwork on Tuesday “with a view to being declared for race riding engagements on Sunday”.

Dylan Mo Hin-tung has also been sidelined after being a Covid-19 close contact but should be cleared to ride on Sunday, while Matthew Chadwick will be missing after partnering Kings Shield and Computer Patch in Korea at the weekend.

Wong up and running, De Sousa back

On a more positive note, Jack Wong Ho-nam was passed fit to resume riding trackwork in early August after a lengthy stint on the sidelines having fractured his wrist and damaging ligaments in an incident on January 1.

Brazilian Silvestre de Sousa will also return to the fray after being given a six-month contract, with this weekend’s fixture to be his first time riding in Hong Kong since February 2020, while new apprentice Angus Chung Yik-lai has been allocated to legendary trainer Tony Cruz ahead of his first Hong Kong season.

The off-season also saw the announcement that Marc Van Gestel will succeed long-serving chief steward Kim Kelly, who leaves the Jockey Club in January after 20 years.

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