Double has Egan's Irish eyes smiling again
When Irish eyes are smiling and a certain jockey's left leg is giving it that almost imperceptible but nevertheless trademark swivel, it's as sure as rain at The Curragh on Derby day that John Egan is back among the winners.
Yesterday the razor-sharp Irishman, one of the riding success stories of the season, took his tally to a terrific 25 when successful on the John Moore-trained Monards in the final event at Sha Tin. Egan had earlier won the second race on Andy Leung Ting-wah's Chuk Way - a low-grade handicapper who goes better for him than anyone else.
'I can normally think of something more original but it's so true, it's a funny old game,' laughed Egan after the last.
'My father has been here for 10 days and only went home last night. He took in two meetings and I couldn't ride a winner for love or money. He's been a big influence on my life let alone my career and I would have given anything for him to have been here for today's double.'
Egan, a trackaholic, was also battling back from the lingering effects of a flu-type virus - so bad that yesterday he took his first morning off trackwork since he arrived in mid-August.
'I'd never quite got over this bug I had at Christmas time and this week it came back pretty hard. I just had to have a complete night's sleep to do justice to my mounts this afternoon. I feel like a million dollars now. You can have all the Beechams, Lemsips and Panadols in the world but there's nothing like a double to put you right.'
Moore has improved Monards from race to race and is now hoping he can even graduate to the Derby field though he's well aware he'll hold no more than an outside chance in the blue riband event.
The former multiple champion trainer, himself going great guns this term, said: 'In the back of my mind, there had always been a plan to try to go for the Derby Trial and the Derby and that's what the plan will now be. Of course, we're decidedly more hopeful than optimistic. But this win should get us enough ratings points to get there.
'He [Monards] has progressed nicely with those seconds and now these two wins and the one sure thing is he'll have no problems handling the step up to 2,000 metres. He also showed nice turn of foot today and had a lovely run through under a copybook ride from John.'
Moore then dashed off to ring his brother, riding legend Gary Moore who is now a Sydney based trainer. Moore explained: 'Monards was one of Gary's babies and he'll be delighted to hear the news.'
Luck was also on Egan and Moore's side as third-placed Brian Kan Ping-chee's Industrial Pioneer would definitely have won by a length or more with a clear run but from 300 metres out was badly held up inside the weakening long-time leader, the free-going Slotop. Industrial Pioneer must be followed over this 1,800-metre trip or further.
In the second event, Chuk Way looked like he might get a place at best. Yet he responds to Egan, who won on him earlier in the season at Happy Valley, whereas for others he's more than once seemed an irresolute sort. In the end he won going away from Bold Dancer, appreciating the drop back to Class Five.