Trader Joe proves a demon on dirt
IT takes a courageous punter to wade into youngsters on the dreaded all-weather. But followers of the Andy Leung stable had that valour rewarded yesterday when the lightly raced Trader Joe got up in the final stride to snatch an unlikely decision in the first dirt contest of the season.
The four-year-old son of Snippets was pasted late in the betting to jump 3.3-1 favourite - in from his overnight quote of 5-1 - and despite totally blowing the start, rallied well under stable rider Brett Doyle to lunge on the line and grab the Class Four prize.
Trader Joe was giving the leaders a good six lengths inside the final furlong and even Doyle himself was convinced that he had blown his winning chance.
'After such a bad getaway I thought third was the best we could hope for, but he really picked up and got going late and it was a pretty good effort, all things considered,' said Doyle.
'I had to pull the whip through in the straight because he wasn't really picking them up, but when the penny dropped he did respond.
'He's played up at the start before and he can run a bit green but there's no doubt he's a handy enough type.' It was a tidy effort to bridge that gap over the minimum trip on the dirt but Doyle was quick to sound a warning for those looking to follow the four-year-old. 'I'd be a little wary of him at this stage because he's still learning and it may just be that he's a freak on the all-weather,' he said.
The English ace is enjoying a terrific start to the campaign and he completed yet another winning double when Mighty Lantern arrived late on the scene to grab yesterday's Class Two finale.
Former champion trainer John Moore had the Last Tycoon gelding in fine fettle for the 1,400-metre test and Doyle did the rest, overcoming some interference down the back on his way to grabbing Willie Way and Felix Coetzee.
Doyle did not press the panic button when hampered, but got balanced again and brought him into the race at the perfect moment to score.
It was Doyle's first ride on the six-year-old who, ironically, has been a regular mount for Coetzee in the past.
Promising youngster Courage Star showed real tenacity, fighting all the way to the line to grab third for Peter Ho and Eric Saint-Martin.
Earlier, there was more joy for freelance Derby-winning jockey David Harrison, who virtually picked Hong Kong Stallion up and carried him over the line in the Class Three, sixth event, which concluded another monster Triple Trio - $16.2 million of which jackpots to next Sunday's fixture at Sha Tin.