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A more settled Vincent Ho eyes turf success after G3 breakthrough

A first JRA Group race win was just the tonic for Hong Kong’s Vincent Ho, who has picked up an intriguing ride this weekend at Kokura.

Vincent Ho was in a relaxed mood a day after breaking through for his first JRA group race winner and wants to build on that foundation with more success when he shifts his focus to Kokura this weekend. 

It has been a whirlwind first few weeks in Japan for Ho and the grinding win of promising dirt tracker Kafuji Octagon at Niigata was a welcome boost. 

“It has been a great learning experience, not just the race riding but everything else, but I am really enjoying it and that win was obviously a big moment for me,” he told the Report from Kyoto, where he will be based for the next two weeks. 

Ho’s breakthrough stakes victory came for Yoshito Yahagi – the trainer that he teamed with to win the QEII Cup on Loves Only You – and the Hong Kong-based rider said it was important to keep in the minds of trainers who travel.

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Vincent Ho and Japan's Loves Only You combine to win the 2021 QE II Cup at Sha Tin. (Photo by Yu Chun Christopher Wong/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

“It would be nice to be thought of in that way, that when Japanese trainers bring horses to Sha Tin they keep thinking of me as an option, that they know I can do the job,” he said. 

The win came with a slap on the wrist from stewards – he was fined 50,000 yen for careless riding after shifting ground as he took the left-hand turn into the home straight – but Ho aid too much had been made of his unfamiliarity to racing anti-clockwise. 

“I rode a lot that way of going as an apprentice in New Zealand and also when I rode in England,” he said. “The hardest stuff to get used to here is actually not on the track, it is the procedure stuff; pre-race, weighing out. I enjoy riding on different tracks and the different style of racing. 

“I am even getting used to the dirt racing here, which is different to Hong Kong, as shown by my two wins. In saying that I am looking forward to the chance of a Group 3 on the turf.” 

This weekend marks the midway point of his stay and he has picked up the ride on Piece Of Eight for Silk Racing and trainer Yutaka Okumura in the G3 Kokura Kinen.

Piece Of Eight had won three-from-three, including a tough all-the-way victory in the G3 Mainichi Hai at Hanshin in March before failing to run the trip in the Tokyo Yushun.

The colt finished tailed-off in the Derby after sitting up near a relentless speed, but back at 2000m and right-handed on a Kokura circuit that is front-runner friendly Ho is hopeful of a turnaround. 

“The Derby was obviously a big step up for him,” Ho said.

Piece Of Eight wins the G3 Mainichi Hai at Hanshin on March 26. (Photo by JRA)

After two weekends riding at Kokura, Ho will represent Hong Kong in the World All-Star Jockeys series at Sapporo on August 27 and 28. Until then, he plans to enjoy Kyoto. 

“It’s good to have a home base for a couple of weeks,” he said. “I have been moving around a bit, I feel like I haven’t stopped since the Hong Kong season finished and this is a great city to recharge.” 

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