Ng ushers in New Year with treble
TRAINER Peter Ng Bik-kuen continued his fairytale season and a super start to 1993 when Classic Pleasure (9-1) completed a hat-trick of victories to take the featured Craigengower Cricket Club Challenge Cup yesterday.
It was New Year's Day delight for the effervescent Ng who know needs just one winner to equal his best previous season.
Classic Pleasure, in the sixth event, was giving Ng his 14th winner of the season and regular stable rider Danny Lee was certainly sharing in the joy.
But it was a desperately close affair with Classic Pleasure prevailing by the minimum margin over Keep Winning (10-1), who ran a great race over the 1,800 metres for claimer Stanley K. M. Chin.
Ng was jubilant but paid full credit to the game Irish seven-year-old.
''He's a real fighter and he doesn't know when to quit. He is really very brave because he's been in a couple of races where he was beaten but just fought on.
''He's a bit like his trainer,'' grinned Ng.
Classic Pleasure had won two on end for visiting South African rider Mawing Waichong but looked to be up to his neck in this competitive event where the market leader was facile last start winner, Owners Spirit (5-2 favourite).
The Brian Kan Ping-chee-trained galloper Thunder And Gold (3-1) was a major public fancy and Classic Pleasure was basically unwanted.
But his trainer's assessment was spot on. Classic Pleasure does seem to relish a battle and he got it from Keep Winning.
The Class Three event developed into a sprint home after a muddling early pace and it got down to a tremendous tussle between Lee and young Chin.
They crossed the line locked together but Classic Pleasure got the final blow in - much to the delight, too, of Lee.
''It's a great way to start the New year. Peter Ng has been very good to me over the years and I have always had rides from his stable. The horse was really in good form and he did fight on very well,'' said Lee.
Those who supported the runner-up can take heart as the horse did look a little above himself in the paddock so ran extremely well. He looks ready to oblige very shortly - possibly at Sha Tin.
Sky Horse (9-2) finished a well-beaten third and those taking the short odds about Owners Spirit were in trouble by midway. Jockey Mick Kinane was hard at work and the gelding was responding only sluggishly.
Darren Gauci is enjoying a great first season and he kept the good work up in the seventh event when bottomweight Courageous (4-1) scored in another exciting finish.
Again it was nip and tuck to the line with Courageous just getting the better of 5-2 favourite Champion Way as the two of them saw off World Peace (50-1) who looked at the turn as if he might create a modest piece of history.
World Peace was ridden by Patrick Biancone's stable apprentice Simon 'Hongkong' Yim who has not won a race but World Peace was going well enough and looked a distinct threat.
But he weakened close to home and did not see it out. Courageous, meanwhile, was coming from well off the pace with a sustained and confident run.
Champion Way, well suited to the trip, was pushed out by Felix Coetzee and it was a stirring duel to the line - but Gauci just had the upper hand.
The former Melbourne champion revealed that he had some reservations going into the event.
''He ran below himself when he was last at the Valley although he did miss the start. That was a little at the back of my mind although he did run a really good race last time at Sha Tin,'' said Gauci.
There were no excuses for the rest in the field of 10 as the winner and the runner-up did not do it the easy way.
Hammerhead (40-1) ran an encouraging race and is worth considering for a future event - possibly on equitrack.
He is a winner on the surface and was right there in this event yesterday until feeling the pinch late on. He does have the pace to make all over 1,400 metres and should be kept in mind.