Kan's Fighter lives up to his name
With some big betting moves the order of the day in the International races, last season's champion trainer Brian Kan Ping-chee made an impact with Grand Fighter landing a very solid move in the opening event.
'I don't know who bet the horse, maybe the professional punters,' Kan said after Grand Fighter was backed from $100 in to $57 and put up a good fight after working to win the opening race for Gerald Mosse. It had taken Grand Fighter 17 starts to win his first race, but he made it two from 20 yesterday.
Kan didn't win again on the card but his good galloper Red Pepper made a good fist of the top class in winding up sixth to Eishin Preston in the Hong Kong Mile.
Incidentally, the opening event set the tone for the day - it was called the Tokyo Handicap.
South African jockey Anton Marcus said farewell to Hong Kong yesterday with a win on All The Best in the Paris Handicap (1,400m), but he intends being back before the season is through.
'It's a great thrill on my last day here to have a winner at a meeting like this,' he said. 'I'll go back home now for a while but I'll be applying to return in to Hong Kong in the last part of the season.'
Trainer Wong Tang-ping was equally pleased with the occasion of the win: 'It is the kind of day everybody wishes they can have a winner. All The Best has had a bit of break lately since he last raced and I think that helped him. He was a bit more fresh and he is a very consistent horse.'
As Marcus is leaving, German rider Andrasch Starke is joining the Hong Kong roster this week and he let everyone know he was in town by winning the final race on International day for Ivan Allan.
The trainer had no worries in the tight photo as he had both runners, Aucash and the winner Cheers Hong Kong.
'Cheers Hong Kong was just looking for a bit of edge off the ground and today's track was not too hard,' he said. 'They're both terrific owners but I'm pleased Cheers Hong Kong has got up because his owners haven't had a win for a while.'
Trainer Peter Ng Bik-kuen and rider Eric Legrix had a plan yesterday to overcome the erratic tendencies of Dashing Winner, who has been difficult to manage in races despite his record of three wins from 10 starts.
'Dashing Winner is still not there mentally and he wants to hang if he does not have horses around him,' said Ng. 'Today, Eric took him back in the field and kept him covered and he was much better, but he can still improve. He is going to improve over time and as he does, I will try him over longer distances.'
Legrix said the talented gelding was a difficult horse from an outside draw because of his erratic traits, but he thought they had the key to him now. 'As long as he has horses around he is fine,' he said.
Dwayne Dunn could not believe how his rivals made his job easy as he rode the David Hayes-trained Prime Witness to victory in the Canberra Handicap (1,400m) yesterday. Hayes saddled up two runners and thought he had the angles well covered before racing.
'If they went quickly then Meridian Star was suited, but they went slow and Prime Witness got a soft lead that made him hard to beat,' he said.
'The race worked out for Prime Witness as it did when he won last time. Actually, it was a great ride from Dwayne and I think he learned from the other day when I thought he could have held the horse up a little longer and today he did,' said Hayes.
Dunn said he was thrilled to land a race on International day and he was the beneficiary of Prime Witness failing to measure up to a start in the big events.