Arrived Ahead ready to make mark
Peter Ho Leung bookended the second-last Happy Valley meeting of the season last night but it was the final winner, Arrived Ahead, who really put a smile on the trainer's face after presenting his credentials as a potential topliner next season.
The grey gave Douglas Whyte, who won earlier on Ray's Favourite, the second leg of a winning double as they took out a very decent Class One sprint despite Arrived Ahead again failing to really switch off.
'That is the one thing that I think this horse needs to improve - if he would settle and relax, then I think he can be a very good horse but even tonight he was keen and was still able to win,' said Ho.
James McDonald's brief stint has hardly kicked off in textbook fashion, with the New Zealand rider stepping down from his last few rides on Sunday unwell and taken off all of last night's rides yesterday afternoon with the flu.
Things then got worse when those rides produced two winners and a second, with Mark Du Plessis substituting successfully on Intellectualstride in race four and Zac Purton on Keen Marie in the seventh.
Both were saddled up by Me Tsui Yu-sak, who smiled that he was doing his best to give McDonald a winning chance.
'Intellectualstride had not tried the mile before tonight but he has been too immature mentally and I have kept him to shorter races,' Tsui said. 'Lately, though, he has been finishing very strongly at 1,400m so I thought it time to try him at the longer distance.'
Zac Purton matched Whyte's brace of wins, with a steering job on Serendipity for Francis Lui Kin-wai early in the night, and he was happy to get back on Keen Marie.
'I was the first to win on him and then I seemed to get the sack after the horse put in a sub-par run,' Purton said. 'But he was good tonight - he was bumped heavily at the start and then awkward on the first turn, so it wasn't like everything went right for him. But he went from three lengths behind to a length in front very quickly - his turn of foot was devastating tonight and he's turning into a very handy horse.'
In the stewards' room things were lively, with Matthew Chadwick and Du Plessis catching unusual careless riding penalties.
There was nothing unusual about the charges that were found against them, but Du Plessis will serve a suspension outside of the season's boundaries for his breach in race five on Juggernaut and Chadwick's period of suspension is to be held over until next season.
In Du Plessis' case, he starts a ban today that will see him back for the final day's racing on July 15 but is then out from July 16 to 29.
For Chadwick, his night started well with news that he will ride in the prestigious Shergar Cup jockey teams competition at Ascot on August 11, but ended less well with a three-day ban and $40,000 fine for his display on Medic Champion in the second event.
However, stewards took into account that Chadwick's rides for the final three meetings of the season have already been confirmed and the fact that there is a limited pool of riders available for those meetings and allowed him to ride. He will miss the first three meetings of next season instead.