King takes riding honours with smart double for Yiu stable
It's going to be a happy Christmas for crack Australian rider Steven King who is back in a winning groove after the broken collar-bone which disrupted his first full Hong Kong season.
King took riding honours at the last Happy Valley meeting before the annual holiday last night with an excellent double for retaining trainer Ricky P.F. Yiu.
The Melbourne Cup-winning jockey kicked the meeting off with a well-timed winning run on Good Putt (10-1) who cleared away to win the Class Five opener in good style. King then followed up with Charming Guest (5-1) in the fourth event.
On International Races Day, King had taken the nightcap in fairly spectacular fashion on rising sprinting star Fairy King Prawn.
'It really is the great thing about racing, you can be down in the dumps one day and on top of the world the next,' he said.
'When I had the injury and was out of action, I really wanted to get back for the big day on Sunday and I was delighted that Fairy King Prawn won.
'I came here tonight thinking I had a couple of chances and here I am with a double. A month ago I had my arm in a sling,' he said.
King rode a faultless race on Good Putt, stalking the leaders and unwinding a strong run from Good Putt who is handy in this grade when he is right.
The pace had been set by front-running stayer Winning Years (6-1) but he faded close to home.
There's no such thing as a certainty in racing and that old adage was duly proved afresh in the second event when Team Honour, second to Monza at his last start in the St Andrew's Challenge Quaich and with a stellar line-up behind him, finished fourth in the second race.
He had raced 20lbs out of the handicap at his last start but those who took the odds-on about the Gary Stevens-ridden hot-pot were quickly in trouble.
There simply wasn't any real pace on in the Class Two, 1,800-metre event and Stevens had a thankless task trying to get Team Honour really into it at the top of the straight.
It all suited Legitimate (9-2) who slogged it out with Inventor (7-1) over the last 100 metres with the nod going to the former in a tight finish.
The win continued the good recent run of Alan Munro and retaining trainer David Oughton and there were plenty of pleased smiles as they accepted the night's silverware, the Hong Kong Golf Club Centenary Cup.
Team Honour (9-5) finished fourth losing out in another tight photo to perennial placegetter, Aspiration (6-1).
There was a welcome winner for English jockey Michael Hills who is settling in well and whose services are being increasingly used by trainers.
Champion trainer David Hayes snapped him up for My Specialist (6-1) in an intriguing fifth event where the stable also supplied the favourite in the Basil Marcus-ridden Surplus (7-2).
But there was not that much between the two runners on the work track and My Specialist, a strapping individual, relished being in front and simply proved far too strong.
My Specialist won by almost three lengths from the Michael Kinane-ridden No Competitor (5-1) with bottomweight Trishful (22-1) showing his first touch of form in finishing third.
Trainer David Hill continued where he left off on Sunday when speed machine Sharp Shooter (6-1) took full advantage of the front-running bias of the C+3 track in use last night and scampered off with the third event.
Sharp Shooter ran them ragged to record a four-length victory in the Class Five dash over bottomweight Keep On Going (12-1).
'It was just great to win with him but I would be a liar to say I really fancied him. I've always thought he was better on the dirt,' said Hill.
Maximum claimer John W.C. Mok bounced Sharp Shooter sharply from the gates and basically that won him the race. Young Mok quickly put a couple of lengths into them at the top of the rock and really rolled round the home turn.
It was over a long way from home with old-timer Go Go (16-1) taking third spot.
Ivan Allan introduced a smart newcomer in Handbag's Honour (5-2 favourite) who made a one-act affair of the Class Four longer sprint which was the sixth event on the card.
Jumping smartly for Douglas Whyte to hold the inside, the three-year-old Australian debutant opened up in the straight and won easily from topweight Sound Lover (9-1) who is a total specialist at this distance and on this track.
Said Allan: 'He had trialled well but I was just a little bit worried about him leaving the stalls.' Brett Doyle took the nightcap on another debutant in Naturally Money (7-2 favourite) who blazed away in front on a track that suited and held on from topweight Happy Monies (5-1).