Sha Tin double tilts title odds in Hayes' favour
LEADING trainer David Hayes upped the title stakes yesterday with his second Sha Tin double in the space of four days, but the defending champion needed to as chief challengers, Ricky Yiu and Peter Ho, are breathing down his neck.
Yiu delivered a winning double and Ho a single success. The accomplished local duo are poised in second spot on the table with 38 winners against Hayes' 42.
A four-winner buffer is by no means enough to suggest that Hayes has his second title in the bag but his team do seem to be coming good at the right time and it will take something special to peg him back.
Griffins have been a rich source of success for the likeable South Australian and his twice-raced two-year-old Spot On (1.9-1 favourite) finally put it all together when taking the opening griffin contest down the straight 1,000-metre chute.
Defending champion jockey Basil Marcus was at the helm and he completed the stable double astride the consistent Mughal Palace (3.8-1 favourite) in the Classes One and Two, 1,400 metre third event.
And, with a bit more luck, it could easily have been a five-timer for Hayes with Eastern Magnate, Happy Boy and Championship all a little unlucky to finish second in their respective contests.
But, under most circumstances, it is not seconds that win titles and a couple of the aforementioned could come back to haunt the team if things do not go according to plan in the campaign's final weeks. And waiting to pounce will be the surprise packets at the top of the table - Yiu and Ho.
Yesterday, Steven King helped the Yiu-trained High Sky (4.7-1 favourite) shed his maiden tag in the Classes One and Two fourth event, before boom claimer Roger K.H. Yu completed the brace aboard another popular-elect, City Fortune (4-1), in the Class Five fifth event.
Ho's solitary winner came in the second griffin event - this one restricted to three-year-olds - with Jimmy Ting landing a rare success aboard the Mukaddamah gelding Superior Title (23-1).