Australian flag flies high over Sha Tin
Hong Kong Reunification Raceday, celebrating the 15th anniversary of the handover, quickly turned into Australia Day at Sha Tin as jockeys from Down Under dominated by snaring eight wins on the 11-race card.
Derek Cruz was a major beneficiary of Aussie riders' skills as Tye Angland and Zac Purton each produced legs of a double for the trainer.
Purton was at his best in the last, and stole the Jockey Challenge from compatriot Angland, with a swooping win on the Cruz-trained Wrath Of Fire.
Wrath Of Fire has now won four races this season, all with trademark bursts from midfield or worse.
'That was a great ride,' Cruz said of Purton's patient effort. 'He didn't rush it and left it right to the end, which is how this horse always needs to be ridden, he has a nice finish.'
Purton said carrying 132 pounds had taken some gloss off Wrath Of Fire's narrow victory.
'When I came to them at the 200m, I thought he'd win easily, but the weight got to him and made the margin a bit smaller,' said Purton.
Angland had a treble and his first win of the day was on Cruz's recent stable transfer Alp's Glory, who got the benefit of gate six and suitable tempo in Class Five.
'We got him about eight weeks ago, he has been a very lazy horse in the mornings,' Cruz said of the four-year-old, who took 15 starts to win his maiden. 'I expected him to run well, he came to us in good condition.'
Tim Clark's win on John Moore's Thanksgiving meant Australian's had won five of the first six events, and both jockey and trainer were talking up the three-year-old's future prospects.
Thanksgiving has now won two straight, after he dropped into Class Five and ran away with a confidence-building victory.
'He got his kill last time and today he won like he will be winning again,' Clark said.
'I rode him earlier in the season and had no luck on him, I gave him some bad rides actually, so I'm lucky to be back on him. We got the right run today, with a light weight up in grade.'
Moore said Thanksgiving 'turned the corner' after Brett Prebble had given the gelding a wake-up call last start.
'Brett got him motivated and now he knows how to win,' Moore said. 'We'll run him again on the last day of the season ... he is a big chance of winning again.'
Rounding out the green and gold day were wins to Prebble and Mark Zahra, whose victory on plunge horse Lucky Record came on his first ride for trainer Tony Millard.
Millard employed a one-eyed blinker on Lucky Record for the first time, as his horse was backed from more than 30-1 to start 11-1, but he said the key was Zahra getting his horse to settle.
'This horse is one of the hardest pullers I've ever seen in the mornings,' Millard said.