Happy Guys has them smiling again
An upset feature win on Happy Guys was part of a double for Mark du Plessis at Happy Valley last night, the lightweight hoop revealing afterwards he will leave the full-time riding ranks at the end of this season.
Du Plessis won the opening event on Rocket And Gold with a swooping run, but aggressive tactics paid off on Ricky Yiu Poon-fai's tough middle distance performer, who went off at 16-1 in the Happy Valley Vase.
'I have to give it to Ricky, he was very confident, he told me he wanted me to lead or be outside the leader and try and steal it,' said Du Plessis, who cited family responsibilities as the reason he did not re-apply for a 2012-13 licence, but added that he would apply for a short stay at the end of next term.
Yiu was full of confidence given Happy Guys' strong win against similar opposition at Sha Tin in March, when he caused a 47-1 boilover. 'We expected him to run well, especially with the light weight,' Yiu said. 'They were running a bit slower, which was an indication the track might have a bit of cut in it, which suits him.'
Rocket And Gold was one of three winners for Dennis Yip Chor-hong, along with High Return and impressive four-year-old Simple, who took his record to three from seven, notching his first victory at the city track.
Simple's win was Douglas Whyte's 99th for the season, but the champion hoop will have to wait for at least two meetings to bring up a century, with an upcoming suspension leaving him with eight meetings to chase his own season record of 114 wins when he returns on June 17.
Whyte seemed certain to bring up three figures on Happy Tumbler in the last, but arch rival Brett Prebble swooped on Elegance Klammer to nail him on the line.
Elegance Klammer's trainer John Moore was thrilled with Prebble's strong ride, and also with the progression of his four-year-old import, who has won three of his last four.
'He's taken quite a while to come good,' Moore said. 'He had some good two-year-old form around good horses in the UK but he also had a pretty tough campaign there and we were worried that perhaps he had been burned out. But because of that, he had just taken that bit longer and now he's hit a purple patch. I'll take him to Sha Tin now and he'll be up a grade with a light weight and he will run well again.'
Australian jockey Mark Zahra cracked it for the first win of his current stay on Pegasus Supreme, but nearly didn't have a ride after his mount had to be replated following a mounting yard mishap.
'He stood on his foot and I thought he'd nearly be scratched,' said Zahra, who took more than a month and 40 rides to get his first winner during a short stay in 2004, but managed the feat within two weeks this time.
Pegasus Supreme's all-the-way win capped a double for Francis Lui Kin-wai, after he earlier saddled up veteran front-runner Billion, who hadn't won for more than two years. Olivier Doleuze, who also had a double after earlier scoring on High Return, became the first non-local jockey to ride the honest grey in his 59-start career and repaid Lui's faith with a smart ride.
'Doleuze did a great job of relaxing him,' Lui said. 'You've got to let him go a bit otherwise he will fight. He travelled so comfortably ... and he went at the right time,' said Lui, who said owners had considered retiring the eight-year-old, but the win could make them reconsider.
On a track that at times seemed to favour front-runners, Tony Millard's speedy Amedeo burned through the 1,000m trip unchallenged for Andreas Suborics to win a Class Three handicap.