Hot Strydom making every post a winner
TRIPLE South African jockey champion Piere Strydom virtually sealed his return ticket to the territory with an accomplished 12-1 double at Sha Tin last night.
Strydom has been a copybook Club Jockey since arriving in town a good month before the start of the season in order to establish a rapport with trainers who knew him by reputation only.
The hard work he has put in since has certainly paid off and last night's double on David Hayes' heavily backed Fay Fay (1.7-1) in the second and the Wong Tang-ping-trained Treasure in the fourth (7-1) took Strydom to 14 winners - only three behind Tony Cruz and Basil Marcus in the standings.
It is a prolific tally for any Club Jockey but especially for one given the opening slot when decent mounts are notoriously thin on the ground.
'I couldn't be happier with the way things have gone,' smiled Strydom after racing.
'I liked the feel of the place from the moment I stepped off the plane.' Strydom would have liked an extension to his contract which expires at the end of this month.
But it would be a major surprise if a forthcoming application for a six-month slot next season is not successful.
Last night Strydom rode Fay Fay like everyone likes to see an odds-on poke ridden. He bounced him out of the gates but then took a sit behind Electric Power when that one was driven to the front by Stanley Chin.
There was a brief moment of worry for Fay Fay's many supporters when he just hung in slightly towards the far rail when Strydom asked him for a race-winning effort 250 metres out.
But as Electric Power faltered, Strydom gathered Fay Fay together and they quickly went clear for an encouraging win from Hayes' progressive three-year-old.
Strydom then showed all his experience on Treasure in the fourth. He sent him straight to the front but did not chase the Cruz-ridden Allez Au Bon when that one was hunted to the lead down the back straight.
Instead Strydom kept something up his sleeve for the home straight and needed no second asking when a run materialised on rail. He grabbed the opening and scooted clear on Treasure for an emphatic win from Money Fountain who stayed on gamely for second.
The French connection of Patrick Biancone and Eric Legrix were also in double form.
They notched a surprising win on Lyphard's Lad (14-1) in the opener, the bob of the head going their way and against Turf King who had looked home.
There was a huge plunge on Hayes' newcomer Noble Knight in this race. He was all at sea under race conditions but don't give up on him as he has shown good promise in his work.
With the Biancone stable in rare form, Glamorous Palace (5-2) won like a quality stayer in the making when racing right away from some useful types in the feature Fakei Cup.
The move to a mile suited this grey who is going to get better and better as he is moved up in distance.
David Oughton and Mick Kinane, out of luck with Turf King, easily took the last with Mazal (3-1) who, like so many Northern Hemisphere imports is much stronger and much improved in his second season. He will win again.
Jimmy Fortune showed there are few more effective jockeys in a finish when getting the David Hill-trained Happy Hunting home by a short head from the admirable Leprechaun in the third.
Hayes' well-supported debutant Perfect Swing ran as if needing further. The outing will also sharpen him up considerably.