Double shows stable duo at their best
CONFIDENCE counts for plenty in the sport of kings and English rider Wendyll Woods showed it in spades yesterday when steering home a well-executed Sha Tin double.
One of the most popular men in the weighing room, Woods opened his account with a hard-fought success aboard the well-graded Top Practitioner in the Class Five third event and finished the job off in style when model-of-consistency Winningcombination swamped his rivals to run away with the Class Four eighth.
Retaining trainer Lawrie Fownes played provider and he must take a large measure of credit for the victories with his astute placement: both were taking the voluntary demotion into their respective events. And Top Practitioner is just the type with which Fownes excels. The seven-year-old son of Rancher has been a difficult horse to keep fit down the years, but Fownes' patience reaped rewards again yesterday as he obliged at his first crack at Class Five company since winning in that grade back in October.
Woods had a head to spare on the line with Outstanding Lad storming through late along the rail to grab third.
It was a ride that suggested Top Practitioner had a bit to spare in class over the field and Woods was delighted.
'He did it well today and really finished off like we know he can. I was trapped wide but with this fellow it's much better to keep going forward than to take a hold and try to get cover and he was going so well that I had no other choice,' said Woods.
'He's been around longer than I have and knows the course inside out and that is a big help in this sort of company.' Winningcombination's victory was much-deserved as he'd been performing with great credit without getting his nose in front.
Woods allowed the Best Western gelding to drift towards the rear of the field on settling and waited until they'd flattened for the judge to ask for his effort.
And the six-year-old responded in kind, producing a scorching turn of foot in the straight to march away with a 1.25-length victory over a revitalised Arabica with Red Devil fighting on well for third.
Yesterday's double took Woods' tally to 18 and with the stable in such sparkling form he will be adding to that before the curtain comes down at the end of June.
Elsewhere, there was another success for South African riding find Weichong Mawing when he worked his magic aboard disappointing dirt specialist Hero's Way for battling local mentor Chris Cheung Ting-pong.
Mawing took a sit off the hectic pace set by Hong Kong Supreme and Bruin Supreme before getting to work at the 800-metre mark. The five-year-old responded well to his robust style and they claimed Fortune Prizes halfway down the straight to score drawing clear. Bruin Supreme held on for third.
And Brian Kan Ping-chee's under-rated miler Koh-I-Noor was allowed to sneak away with the Class Two finale. Under a heady ride from local ace Jimmy Ting, Koh-I-Noor ambled his way to the front down the back before taking a breather going into the final bend and then kicking clear shortly after to score comfortably. He had a length and a half over the game Handover with the fast-finishing French Fry snatching third from the fancied Kindred Spirits right on the line.