Moore staking his claim
Championship leaders Robbie Fradd and John Moore combined with Victory Mount (7-2) to take the featured St Andrew's Challenge Quaich on the Sha Tin all-weather surface last night and keep their excellent seasons ticking over sweetly.
For Moore, a former multiple champion trainer, it's just like old times.
He has soared up the table in the past five weeks and Victory Mount, really trotting along for Fradd in the Class Two, 1,650-metre trophy race, was his 16th success of the season. He now has a two-winner break in the trainers' title battle.
That can change, of course, but South African Fradd is going to take plenty of beating in the jockeys' championship as this was his 32nd winner of the campaign and he is riding in exhilarating fashion.
Victory Mount won by two lengths from the Eric Legrix-ridden Indy's Gem (3-1 favourite) who simply had too much to do from his midfield position.
The five-year-old has been a good horse for Moore, winning the Sha Tin Trophy in his first season and then providing Gary Moore with a winner on his final day in the saddle in Hong Kong at the International Races meeting two years ago.
Legrix had to settle for the runner-up berth in the night's big race but he was on target with an all-the-way win on Hong Kong Supreme (12-1) in the Class Five third event.
The French ace never let up on the veteran galloper, who was winning his fourth race in 57 starts and chalking up another $285,000 in prize money to take his overall tally to over $3.5 million. It goes to show that, even with lower-class gallopers, racing in Hong Kong can pay.
It was a night to forget for popular Wendyll Woods, who was stood down for three days before the action started. That was the outcome of an inquiry into interference suffered by Hossegor in a race on Saturday.
On that occasion, Glen Boss rode Hossegor and Woods was on Dolbridge. Last night, Woods was on the Argentinian-bred Hossegor, backed in from 6-1 to 4-1, on the dirt surface on which he had performed most creditably before export.
But Hossegor was one of the first horses beaten when he was tackled and the race went to Honest Dragon (6-1), ridden by claimer Vincent S.K. Sit.
Trainer Geoff Lane and Club jockey David Harrison came close to winning doubles with big-priced Darley the horse involved.
Harrison, with the opening event to his credit thanks to 3-1 favourite Bold'N Power, threw everything at the last start winner in the 1,800-metre Class Four event.
Darley, sent off at 60-1, led them to the shadows of the post when Charity First (7-1) with claimer Howard Y.T. Cheng up just prevailed, officially by a head.
The run of this particular event was that of the 4-1 favourite Mr Brinker who blew the start, trailed the field out of the straight and then made up his ground.
Under Felix Coetzee, Mr Brinker came home solidly down the outside but had to settle for third place.
Lane then saddled up topweight Flags Up (10-1) to win the following race, the Class Four, 1,650-metre fifth event which was marked by a sensational betting plunge, the equal of any this season.
The massive support was for the Ivan Allan-trained Heart Of Gold whose odds were slashed down from 13-1 to 5.7-1 in the last five minutes of betting.
Leading rider Fradd was aboard but those who followed the money ended up with fingers burned as the American-bred three-year-old finished in fourth position.
Flags Up clearly appreciated the maximum claim of Way M.W. Leung and he battled strongly away to the line, just holding off the furious finish of Furioso (9-2 favourite), who failed by the minimum margin to peg back the winner.
In an exciting finish, Fortune Prizes (5-1) finished third having looked the winner halfway down the straight. But Flags Up kept finding enough and the Moore-trained Fortune Prizes just faded slightly as Furioso finished well.
The nightcap went to the Douglas Whyte-ridden Pure Reality (14-1) who gave nothing else a chance.
Fradd powers to 32nd winner of campaign