Ho Ho elevates Biancone
QUALITY stayer Ho Ho (5-1) captured the Group Two Queen Mother's Cup at Sha Tin last night to give trainer Patrick Biancone the middle leg of a winning treble and a dramatic chance of carrying off his first championship.
Ho Ho is one of the brightest younger stars in the Biancone stable and, under regular rider Eric Legrix, the four-year-old produced a stellar display of utter determination to win the 2,400-metre event, which is the last major race on this season's calendar.
Biancone, who scored earlier with griffin Arriba-Arriba (6-1) ridden by Freddie Sanchez, is now just two winners adrift of leader David Hayes, who has been going through a quiet spell.
Maiden De Integro (3-1 favourite), who has been thereabouts in recent runs, finally got it all together under Sanchez, the French trainer's stable jockey next season, to take the Class Four eighth event for the third leg of the 90-1 threesome.
Ho Ho's win was not against the elite of Hong Kong racing, but he accounted for a useful field of Class One gallopers in the $2.6-million event, making it six wins from eight starts - no mean achievement in this highly competitive racing environment.
Ho Ho was ridden along early by Legrix but then settled sweetly as the French rider left Fat Choy Together (6-1) and Privilege (30-1) to get on with it up front.
The winner was always travelling and the cutthroat pace and tactics employed by the leaders ensured they would come back to the field. That they did and it was left to Ho Ho and primarily Desert Fox (9-2) to take it up.
The latter, trained by David Oughton and third in last year's Irish Derby, needs cut in the ground so his performance on a fast track was good. Jockey Alan Munro may have had to go on just a shade sooner than he might have liked. But Ho Ho won solidly on merit in a race that was not without some added drama.
Topweight Supreme Bases (9-1) and hot favourite Win For Lily (3-1) dead-heated for third place after Douglas Whyte, riding the Ivan Allan-trained public elect, had the misfortune to have his saddle slip badly in the run.
He was placed at a hopeless disadvantage, veering wide on the home turn and unable to really get at the favourite.
Biancone, who has been quietly going about his daily business despite the drugs drama involving Whytellyou and Rickfield, was not surprised at the success of Ho Ho.
'His record really speaks for itself. He is a very capable horse who is at home over distance. The race worked out largely as we thought it might with plenty of pace on and we just wanted to have Ho Ho going well and ready to challenge,' said Biancone.
Arriba-Arriba had put in a top run at his previous start when a fast-finishing fifth and the surprise was that the stable's other runner, Kashmac (3-1 favourite) was so much the more favoured of the duo. Kashmac was coming back in distance while Arriba-Arriba, who had run over 1,000 metres last time, was stepping up to the longer sprint, which he clearly needed.
It was an impressive win as he accounted easily for the bottomweight Happy Power (16-1) and Top Racer (5-1), who dead-heated for second place.
The night's big surprise was supplied by Sheer Madness (50-1) in the Class Three sixth event.
It continued the excellent run of Jockey Club Steward and international owner, Ronald Arculli, whose Sheer Danzig was a recent winner of the Adelaide Cup.
Maximum claimer Patrick P. H. Tse twirled his whip in delight as Sheer Madness passed the post three quarters of a length to the good of Namjong Success (7-2) in the longer sprint.
Hill said: 'He wasn't a 50-1 chance and I said that before the race. This was the easiest race he has been in for some time and I decided to take the benefit of a full claim.
'Patrick rides a few for me and has done well. It does make a lot of difference if there is a good lad taking a lot of weight off when a horse is in a lower grade.' Surplus (3-1 favourite) was niggled at before the turn but seemed to respond and was simply beaten on the merits.
Claimer Carol W. S. Yu, who is officially attached to the Biancone stable, continued her good work with trainer Brian Kan Ping-chee making it two wins in a week for Light Print (6-1), raced by long-time owner Edmund Tam Wing-fan.
Although not harshly treated by the handicapper after his last win, Light Print had to come from behind to win after missing the start. But he showed no aversion to the enforced new tactics and came through to take it up with a will for Yu.
They cleared away in the closing stages to win from Storm Boy (14-1) and Small Wonder (14-1) in the Class Four, 1,400-metre event.
Robin Parke His record really speaks for itself. He is a very capable horse, who is at home over distance