Wong takes Flamenco stunner in his stride
Alex Wong Siu-tan brought off a near 180-1 upset in the eighth race with Flamenco Star and then declared the result of the 1,400-metre event was not a shock to him. 'I'm not surprised at all because he has been very consistent,' said Wong.
'He didn't finish far behind over 1,200 metres on his last run, when the distance was too short and he was running on well. I also suspect he had a bit of a virus after that, so I gave him a long break and it has done him a lot of good.'
Flamenco Star, whose previous run had been on February 28, was well ridden by Tony Culhane to hold Douglas Whyte's determined challenge on Comme D'Habitude by a short head, with the same distance back to Dr More. It was a third winner in Hong Kong for Culhane, one of the three jockeys who fell in the last race.
Francois Naude, fresh from his initial success on Nanning Treasure at Happy Valley in midweek, quickly doubled his tally with a runaway victory aboard Gagnant in the third race. Both of Naude's wins have come for trainer Eddie Lo, who again paid tribute to the South African. 'I think he's a good rider, and he is certainly doing very well for me,' said Lo, whose lowly-rated gelding was one of only three rides for Naude yesterday.
Naude - whose planned retainership with Alex Wong Siu-tan next season officially fell apart on Thursday when the trainer said the job would go instead to Australian Stephen Baster - is making the most of his opportunities for Lo, leading all the way on Gagnant to take the 1,200-metre event by 4.5 lengths. The victory is likely to secure another season for Gagnant, who went into the race rated only 12 but is now likely to make the threshold of 24.
David Oughton, out of luck with Good Heavens in the big race and narrowly pipped in the eighth race with Comme D'Habitude, got on the scoreboard with Connoisseur's Bet in the fourth race. The four-year-old, who has failed in nine turf starts, ran away with the 1,800-metre dirt event to follow up his promising all-weather debut when runner-up two starts back.
My Joy, one of the most consistent griffins of the season, finally notched a victory at the 10th attempt when taking the opener under Robbie Fradd. The mile event was one of the weaker griffin contests, and the warm favourite scored comfortably by 2.25 lengths.
Trainer Derek Cruz landed a double when Kowloon's Blessing took the sixth race by 1.25 lengths under 10-pound claimer Way Leung. The brace took Cruz to the 25-winner mark for the season.
The Triple Trio paid almost $10 million to a $10 unit yesterday after rising to more than $200 million from a carryover of $81 million.
There were a total of $145 worth of winning tickets.