'This is a great day, especially as we really hit a bad patch in January, February and March'
BOOM local trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fie yesterday enjoyed the biggest day of his career with an 18,400-1 four-timer at a squally Sha Tin.
Yiu, who from January to March would have had trouble training ivy up a wall, sent out Nanning Treasure to win the second, Craig's Pride to win the fourth, Sounds Good to land the fifth and completed his day when Kiwi Star took the last under a consummate ride from South African Club Jockey Weichong Mawing.
'This is a great day, especially as we really hit a bad patch in January, February and March,' said Yiu.
Mawing was also successful on two of Yiu's other winners with Irishman Jimmy Quinn on board Nanning Treasure.
Both riders have hit a purple patch of form, too, with Mawing now on the nine-winner mark, despite having three meetings in the cooler due to a careless riding suspension.
Quinn has now ridden 11 winners since his high-profile split with leading local trainer Brian Kan Ping-chee.
Yiu said: 'I'd heard a lot of good reports out of South Africa about Weichong. He's ridden some great races since we teamed up, not just today but virtually from day one.' The Jockey Club took a chance on inviting Mawing back as he'd had little success in a previous stint here.
But as Yiu said, all the good judges in South Africa were pointing to him as a much improved jockey and the last four or five meetings have more than vindicated their assessment.
And he isn't doing things by halves. His winners have come via three doubles and a treble.
'It's brilliant isn't it,' reflected Mawing as he left the track. 'Not so long ago I was breathing a huge sigh of relief to get off the mark and now here we are with a treble and nine winners in total.
'But I did say at the time of that first double that there is a bit of a learning curve.
'The tracks at home are so much bigger and the pace here is so much quicker that it does take a few meetings to get into the style of racing.
'I'm not saying I've got it sussed or anything like that, but I do feel I've now made the adjustment.' It certainly looked that way on Kiwi Star in the last as Mawing gave him a delightful ride near the fence and refused to get involved in a searching pace up front.
He bided his time and weaved a passage through on the inside as his main rival, Don Sebastian, came out and around the field.
On the line there was three-quarters of a length between them, with the only real surprise that Kiwi Star drifted out to 9-1 at the off.
Yiu's six-year-old had shown he was near to a win last time out when only three-quarters of a length second to David Hill's exciting young stayer Peak Power, who had come off that win and blown a Class Two field apart at Happy Valley.
Yiu said: 'I'd been looking for an end-of-season staying contest for him [Kiwi Star], but was worried at the start of the day when there was so much rain around.
'Fortunately, it then held off for most of the meeting and the ground didn't get too soft for him.' Yiu feels his Class Five winner Sounds Good has more improvement to come, while Mawing looked to ride a really intelligent race on Craig's Pride in the fourth, keeping something up his sleeve to repel Air Force One and the progressive Speed At Will in a desperately close finish.
'Hey, you can't play all your good cards at once,' laughed Mawing.
When Nanning Treasure had been a well-backed flop over the Sha Tin 1,400 metres three starts ago, Quinn advised Yiu that his best hope was probably to push him up to at least 1,800 metres and to ride him quietly.
Yiu has done exactly that to yield a third, a fifth and now yesterday's dirt win.
'I reckon he'll get 2,000 metres no problem and was slightly surprised that he could travel so easily through the run today,' said Quinn.
The four-timer took Yiu to 26 winners for the season with the promise of plenty more to come.