Dolbridge fits the bill as fortune smiles on Fownes
Former United States president Bill Clinton did not make it to the presentation stage for last night's Fortune Global Forum Cup at Happy Valley and winning trainer Lawrie Fownes was more disappointed than most in the crowd.
'It's a real thrill to win the race with a lovely horse like Dolbridge, but I really was hoping that the big man would be presenting the trophy,' he said, then revealed that the Fownes family had already enjoyed a 'Clinton moment' on the day via his grandson.
'My daughter-in-law, Alix, was at Stanley today with Casper's boy, Ryan, and Bill Clinton was there. He picked the lad up and asked, 'Who's this handsome boy?' and they got some terrific photos with him. It would have been a nice touch for him to have met his grandfather tonight.'
The crowd last night packed the Happy Valley terraces for the cup presentation hoping for a glimpse of the former president, but had to be satisfied with a television camera shot which settled on Clinton for a couple of minutes.
But they did witness a stirring contest on the track as Monards gave some more depth to the form of David Oughton's promising Good Heavens. Monards had chased home Good Heavens at his previous outing in receipt of five pounds from that horse.
Last night he was asked to give weight all around under 130 pounds, conceding Dolbridge 14 pounds that made a difference on the wire after Monards looked set to score but drifted out in the straight and allowed Dolbridge to get up underneath him.
'You know the difference was only small and it was his first run at Happy Valley,' said a disappointed jockey Anton Marcus. 'You have to hand it to Monards, he did a pretty good job giving away a stone in weight to a fit, form horse.'
Lawrie Fownes again went to the races with Dolbridge concerned about the wet weather in the afternoon, as he had done at the five-year-old's previous winning outing at Happy Valley.
'He's such an honest horse,' Fownes said. 'He's going great guns at the moment and he's such a great battler. But when they said there was rain in the afternoon I was perturbed.'
Racecourse manager John Ridley reported the course had taken only 11.1 millimetres during the afternoon, or 'just enough to lay the dust'.
As he had done at his previous run, Dolbridge handled the ground and the pressure to prevail in a tight photo after looking beaten. 'He had a nice run from Wendyll [Woods] off the good draw and he doesn't give up, that's what is great about him. He fought back again to win when he was beaten,' Fownes said.
Woods was riding last night at the pleasure of the stipendiary stewards who had suspended him at last Sunday's Sha Tin meeting, but deferred the penalty until after Happy Valley.
Eric Saint-Martin brought home a double last night to take his tally for the season to 28 wins and he will be happy with 30. 'You know I was running fourth this season when I got a two-month suspension and that messed up my season,' the talented Frenchman said after bringing home Legend Of Wei Hai and Hong Kong Vitality.
'I thought the track was biased to the leaders in the first race so on Legend Of Wei Hai I went out to go forward and sat outside the leader,' he said. 'He's a big strider and I didn't want him in behind horses. He was comfortable there and he got clear when I went for him.'
But Saint-Martin admitted a slight surprise with the win in the final race of Hong Kong Vitality, who had raced well at Happy Valley a few starts ago then disappointed but, on reflection, thought there were good reasons for the grey's improvement.
'He had a tough run that night and I think he didn't really recover quickly, but his work on Monday made me think he was on the way back,' the rider said. 'Also, he drew outside and he really prefers to be on the outside of horses. His last two runs he had horses come around him so this time with nothing on his outside he responded well.'
Trainers Peter Ho (Optic Elite and Star Of Wei Hai) and Tony Cruz scored doubles on the night. Cruz's first winner came with Felix Coetzee's masterful front-running ride on D'Or Win in the Mount Nicholson Handicap. He pressed the horse onwards past the post the first time to take the lead and was never threatened.
The second winner for Cruz, Super Century, scored at big odds for Patrick Tse after taking the front early, too. It was a timely victory for Tse, who had last week been given notice that he will have to show cause as to why he should retain his riding licence next season.
The five-pound claimer has ridden just 21 winners in five seasons but did nothing wrong on Super Century.