He had to bide his time but Blake Shinn will finally reunite with the most exciting horse in his armoury at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
After booting Harmony N Blessed to victory on debut in November, Shinn was forced to watch on as the four-year-old saluted under Hollie Doyle in the International Jockeys’ Championship last month.
Shinn climbs back aboard as the gelding looks to make it three-from-three in the second section of the Class Three Begonia Handicap (1,200m) and trainer David Hayes said he had no hesitation handing the reins back to the 33-year-old.
“Behind the scenes what Blake has done on him has been very helpful,” Hayes said. “He was a very difficult horse when he first came to Hong Kong, wanting to overdo it, and Blake did a great job on him.
“He gets on so well with him, I reckon it’s a bit of a risk putting someone on who doesn’t know him.”
Harmony N Blessed has been a shining light for Hayes during a slow start to his second Hong Kong stint – providing two of his nine wins – and the Australian admitted he has brought the son of Magnus back to the races sooner than he had originally planned.
“I was going to give him a bit longer but he was getting too fresh and needed the work, so we brought his comeback race forward,” Hayes said of his charge, who saluted in a turf trial at Sha Tin last week.
“I thought the trial was pretty good down the straight. We gave him a quiet time after his last win and we built him up again and gave him a trial and we were very happy with him.”
Harmony N Blessed’s form was franked when the horse he beat on IJC night, Grateful Heart, came out and saluted a fortnight later, finishing two and a half lengths clear of Harrier Jet.
Harrier Jet is among an honest band of competitors standing between Harmony N Blessed and victory at the midweek meeting, with Handsome Bo Bo, Wind N Grass, High Rise Soldier and Triple Triple also boasting solid form.
Shinn has gate six at his disposal and Harmony N Blessed will carry 122 pounds in his second Class Three assignment.
The galloper is one of two rides Shinn has for Hayes on Wednesday night, the pair also combining with Helaku Knight in the Class Four Magnolia Handicap (1,200m).
Shinn’s only other ride comes aboard the David Hall-trained Glorious Buddy in the Class Five Wistaria Handicap (1,650m), while Hayes also saddles up debutant Magic Bonus, Mighty Power and Happy Alumni.
Happy Alumni returns from a lengthy lay-off in the first section of the Class Three Begonia Handicap (1,200m) after suffering lameness in July and August.
After one win from 16 starts for Francis Lui Kin-wai, Happy Alumni has his first start for Hayes nearly seven months since he was last seen at the races.
Vagner Borges takes the reins from gate two in a race featuring recent winners Mig Energy and Momentum Galaxy.