Van the man: South African Van Niekerk can show skills at Sha Tin
9.35 Sha Tin
Pick Number One
10.10 Sha Tin
10.45 Sha Tin
South Africa has been a constant source of riding talent for Hong Kong over the past two decades, and Grant Van Niekerk has been the latest jockey to impress.
Van Niekerk rode a finish like no other seen of late when he propelledWorld Record to a last-gasp victory on the opening day of the season at Sha Tin — and he has been in demand ever since.
The 27-year-old has landed six winners from 48 rides, and it will be no surprise if he manages to win again aboard World Record (9.35) in the Class 2 mile handicap to boost his 12 per cent strike-rate.
The extra furlong this time will pose no problem for the Tony Millard-trained galloper, who has worked through the classes, winning five of his 27 starts.
I also particularly like Van Niekerk’s mountLady First (10.45) in the finale,the 7fClass 3 handicap.
This New Zealand-bred gelding might be a ten-start maiden in Hong Kong but he won at top track Ellerslie, Auckland, before being shipped out to his Far East owners.
But, above all, Lady First’s most recent run was a cracker, coming from last in a similar race at Sha Tin to finish eighth, only two and a half lengthsbehind the winner.
He was making ground all the way to the line, and trainer Michael Freedman is sure to have him primed for this suitable target.
Also, take note ofPick Number One (10.10), who makes his seasonal debut in a6f Class 2 handicap on dirt. He will be a short price but should win.
This son of New Zealand sire Darci Brahma won a barrier trial at Sha Tin ten days ago and is a specialist on the all-weather, having won five of his seven starts on the surface.
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