Dye bounces back at the double
Shane Dye was a contented man last night after coming back from injury in emphatic fashion to score an opening-day double for the second consecutive season. And he revealed he had further cause for celebration with the news that his girlfriend, Emma Kate, was expecting their first child in the new year.
'I feel good,' was Dye's succinct comment on his well-being following victories aboard the David Hayes-trained Refreshingly and Triumphant Star, who completed Ivan Allan's hat-trick. The double confirmed the New Zealand jockey's return to full fitness on his first competitive outing since sustaining serious back and hip injuries in a three-horse pile-up at Sha Tin in June.
Dye, who had seven rides yesterday, added: 'My legs feel a bit like jelly, but that's only natural and I feel fit. I was one of the first jockeys back here in August because I hadn't ridden for 10 weeks and I knew I had to work on my fitness.
'Most of the jockeys keep pretty fit over the summer and I would have done, too, if I hadn't had the injuries.'
But he admitted his day could have been even better after flying finishes on first-race favourite Express Lot and Billion Win in the feature sprint. Both finished fourth and Dye said: 'Maybe they could have won with a bit of luck, but they both got too far back. Express Lot is that sort of horse - he hadn't won in 36 starts, he gets back and he needs things to go his way. Billion Win was running on really well and he wasn't beaten far at the end.'
Despite that defeat on the Hayes-trained Express Lot, Dye was quickly off the mark in the third race aboard Refreshingly, who also opened the seasonal account of the former champion trainer. The five-year-old gelding was last rounding the home turn in the 1,400-metre event, but in customary fashion he came with a late rattle down the outside to snatch the spoils by a neck from Grand Fighter.
Hayes, one of Dye's staunchest supporters, was delighted after the 24-1 shot's victory. 'It's great for Shane,' he said. 'After his injuries, he has to show everyone he's OK, and for that matter he has to show me, too. Refreshingly has handled yielding ground before, so I'm not surprised he won. I know he was long odds, but he was well backed a few times when he first came here, which maybe took the gloss off his reputation.'
Dye completed his double aboard Triumphant Star, who also had wet-track form to his name and showed his liking for the conditions with a short-head victory over Tony Cruz's promising Australian import Lightning Bolt. Dye, who last teamed up with Triumphant Star for an all-weather win in April, tracked the leaders on the grey before his strong run proved just enough to overhaul the rail-hugging Lightning Bolt in the 1,000m event.