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Martin Harley’s Hong Kong Diary: Righteous Doctrine could bring me another win

Top jockey returns with more exclusive insight

Yes! Hopefully you would have seen that I rode my first winner in Hong Kong when High Five, who I mentioned had a decent chance in my blog, won at Happy Valley last Wednesday.

It was fantastic to win. I had to wait almost a month for it to happen and it had been difficult to be routinely competitive because I was riding ordinary horses on the whole.

Getting that winner under my belt, and the way he did it off the front, was like riding my very first winner all over again. The adrenaline buzz I got from it was something else.

He did it the hard way as I had to use plenty of horse early but you need to be in the right position around Happy Valley. You don’t want to be going wide around there and he was all out at the end, but he was also very gutsy. It was touch and go that last 100 metres as you often get a lot of fast finishers and you can never be too confident you’re going to hold on until you’ve past the post.

It’s really made a difference in the days since it happened. It’s a bit of a monkey off my back to start with and I’ve also been a lot busier at trackwork since it happened. I’m riding nicer horses and I’ve picked up six rides on Hong Kong Derby day at Sha Tin on Sunday. More on that later.

I’ve got three rides on Wednesday back at Happy Valley and the best of them would be Gentle Breeze in the 5f handicap (12.15pm). He’s got a terrible draw as he’s in gate 12 of 12 so we’ll need to overcome that. What I would say is that the 5f track at Happy Valley is not as tricky as the 6f course because you’ve got a two furlong stretch down the back before the turn.

He’s got a solid chance and if he can overcome that draw he should run well. I’ve ridden him trackwork and I like him, and his form is good too having won over course and distance.

Happy Valley looks great under the lights

This week is all building up to the Hong Kong Derby on Sunday. It’s one of the biggest and most prestigious meetings of the year in Hong Kong. I think my rides have all got chances of running decent races as well. To be honest, just to have that many rides on Derby day is an achievement in itself because the likes of Ryan Moore, Oisin Murphy and Winx’s jockey Hugh Bowman are coming over for the meeting.

In terms of looking at the quality of the horses in the Hong Kong Derby and what it would be like back home, I’d say it would be like having a very good Derby trial at Chester. Young Rascal won the Chester Vase last year and a horse of that calibre would be the sort of horse you’d expect to see running in the Hong Kong Derby, and the course isn’t that dissimilar albeit it’s the other way around.

As for the Hong Kong Derby, the buzz remains around Waikuku after what he’s done in the handicap ranks building up to this race. Trainer Frankie Lor looks to have a strong hand too, but if I could ride anything in the race it would be Waikuku and I think he’ll take all the beating.

Of my rides, the two that stand out at this stage are War Room and Righteous Doctrine. War Room runs in the 6f turf handicap and the distance is probably a bit short for him this weekend. But going forward he’s one I recommend you keep an eye on.

The other horse I’m looking forward to riding is Righteous Doctrine. He was seventh in the French 2,000 Guineas last year but I was disappointed with him when I rode him in a race on the dirt track at Sha Tin last time. However, we’ve made a few adjustments and he’s back on the grass this weekend in the 7f turf handicap. The trip is perfect and I think he’s my best chance of a winner.

The other thing I’ll be doing this week, like you all, is watching the Cheltenham Festival!

Thanks for reading,

Martin