Lui enjoys strong finish with treble to boot
Francis Lui Kin-wai must be one of the few people who wishes the season could go on for a few more weeks after he continued his tremendous recent run with a final-day treble. The trainer finished his fourth season with 27 winners after victories for Convergence and Ideal Partner, who formed a double for Eric Legrix, and the Wendyll Woods-partnered Me First.
Lui, who has racked up an incredible 11 victories from 69 runners since the beginning of May, said: 'It's been a great way to finish the season and I wouldn't mind if we had a couple of meetings more because the horses are in really good form. Of course, some of them are starting to get a bit tired now, but everything has gone very well in the last month.'
Lui, a former assistant to Alex Wong Yu-on and noted for his patient handling of his string, had his best season in 1998-99 with 32 winners, but he is looking forward to building on his success next term. 'We have about 50 horses at the moment and I expect I'll get a few more during the summer, so I could have the maximum next season,' added Lui, who already has one high-class new recruit in German 2,000 Guineas fourth Diamond Moon.
The trainer opened his account in the fourth race when Convergence gained a deserved reward for consistency with his first victory in six starts. The useful four-year-old finally got a suitable trip and repaid the faith of punters and Legrix alike.
Convergence has been firmly in the betting without luck from wide gates lately, but Legrix stuck with him and managed to find a good slot this time.
'Every time he has raced well but he has had barrier 13, barrier 14 and always wide,' said Lui. 'Today he had barrier 12 again but this time at least he had a firm track. Eric knows him well now and rode him very well to get across.'
Legrix throttled back on the outside of Reward (apprentice Way Leung) and cleverly used the leader to measure his own race. 'I thought, OK, if the kid wants to lead, he can lead and I'll sit back a neck,' Legrix said. 'When he quickened at the top of the straight, I had plenty of horse but I let the leader go faster and I waited.'
Legrix finally pressed the accelerator at the 200-metre mark and the son of Carry The Crown quickened nicely to bring up an easy win he has deserved for a while. 'He is very honest, this horse, and will surely win his races,' Lui said.
Legrix got the best out of Ideal Partner in the seventh race as he brought the five-year-old from off the pace to land the 1,200m event by half a length from Easy Star. It was only Ideal Partner's second win from 21 starts, and Lui said: 'He's not a bad horse, but he's a bit funny and he only goes when he wants to go. But Eric knows him quite well and he gave him a good ride today.'
Convergence and Ideal Partner also formed a rare Hong Kong double for an owner, with both sporting the royal blue colours of Cheng Yuk-kuen. 'I'm very pleased for the owner,' Lui said. 'He had horses with Wylie Wong before he came to me and I'm pleased he has two such nice horses. He got Ideal Partner the first year, and then Convergence with his next permit.'
Lui followed Convergence up with Me First leading throughout for a relieved Wendyll Woods 30 minutes later.
'I'm glad that he got home,' Woods said. 'When he missed the start I was worried that he wouldn't get to the front and that's how he needs to race. But he got through OK and I was able to slow them up a bit. When we straightened I knew he had something left and I was very confident when I pulled the whip through. I've seen him race before and I know he always gives a bit.'