Ferraris starting to pick up speed
The hot run continued for trainer David Ferraris last night as he claimed the Sports Club Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup with Imperial Rome and added further weight to the claims of a new Happy Valley specialist sire.
Ferraris has battled for much of the season, with the well-publicised issue of construction work across his Sha Tin Olympic stables the major factor, but the South African's season has come to life lately.
Imperial Rome (Weichong Marwing), swamped the leaders coming from well back in the night's trophy event to give Ferraris six winners from his last 24 runners, including last Sunday's Group One Champions & Chater Cup with Liberator.
Like Liberator, Imperial Rome is a trainer's syndicate horse, but he is by a sire really making a name for himself as a Valley specialist - Holy Roman Emperor.
From only a handful of runners here, Holy Roman Emperor has already been represented by a three-times Valley winner in Mr Award, another winner at the course in Charles The Great and he provided the last two winners last night with Imperial Rome and then Legendary Dragon (Mark Du Plessis), who is now unbeaten there in four starts.
'Holy Roman Emperor throws horses that are only small but they are compact and nuggety sorts, which might be why they like it here,' Ferrais said. 'I'm convinced this guy will go at Sha Tin too but right now I probably don't want to change a winning formula. He's taken his time - I was quite worried about him at one stage - but we had him gelded and he had a laser operation after suffering with a trapped epiglottis and he has come good. He's a different horse since.'
Brett Prebble made short work of the Jockey Challenge, opening the batting with Ride On The Fire for Caspar Fownes and then adding a double for Paul O'Sullivan with Fascinating Smile in the second and Cai Bao In in the fifth and it was all over, a nice lead in to his assault on the Yasuda Kinen on Sunday in Tokyo on Fownes-trained Lucky Nine.
'Ride On the Fire is pretty limited but he has really done his job - four wins from 21 starts is good work,' said Fownes. 'His three wins this season have been this 1,000m course from gates one and two and then one again tonight so I think we know he requires all favours but he's genuine.'
Douglas Whyte, also Tokyo-bound for Glorious Days on Sunday, bounced back from his nasty fall on the weekend with a double on Shifachi Tradition for Richard Gibson at his first time in Class Four and Horse Aplenty for Me Tsui Yu-sak.
'Shifachi Tradition has taken longer than I expected to win, and he did have a bit of a think about it tonight,' said Gibson. 'But I think he might get some confidence from it and be one to follow for the rest of the season. It's great to put Dougie back on a winner after that fall.'
Whyte agreed, saying he felt a change in Shifachi Tradition in recent weeks with Gibson.
'Behind the gates tonight, he had a real shine to him,' Whyte said. 'I've ridden him in the past and you had to drag him around to do anything. He never used to jump cleanly and tonight I was able to put him in the box seat. I can't see why he wouldn't take that form and win again in Class Three with a light weight. As for Horse Aplenty, Me has done a good job with him - he's no star but gives his best and tonight it just panned out right.'
The pair took Whyte to 98 wins for the season, only 16 shy of his own record, with 11 meetings to ride when he returns from Japan.
The stewards had a light night but the Jockey Club did return more than $11 million bets after Gene Power was declared a non-starter in the seventh.