Doleuze picks up where he left off
Olivier Doleuze started the New Year as he ended 2001 - with a Sha Tin double - to continue his blistering start to his Hong Kong career. 'It's almost too good to be true,' said the Frenchman, who scored on hot favourite Second Opinion in the third race and followed up on Perfect Victory in the seventh and did not contain his delight with fist-pumping celebrations after the two victories.
'My first double was fantastic and I never dreamed I would have another one so quickly. If I carry on like this, I will be able to retire when I finish my contract in March,' he quipped.
Doleuze now has a strike-rate of 33 per cent with four successes from only 12 rides, three of them for Perfect Victory's trainer Derek Cruz and yesterday getting on the scoresheet with Second Opinion for Brian Kan Ping-chee, having ridden the champion trainer's Danefactor to second place behind Rebel Leader on Boxing Day.
Doleuze, who stood up in the irons to punch the air and let out a roar as he completed his double on Perfect Victory, added: 'I'm a very emotional guy and I was very happy to win two more races. It's been a good start to my career here, but I know the competition is very tough and I must keep working hard.
'I have been lucky to get two nice rides from Brian Kan and I have been doing a lot of work for Derek Cruz. It's good now because I am starting to get to know some of the horses I ride. I had ridden Perfect Victory once at trackwork, so I knew a little of what to expect from him in the race. That is a big help to a jockey.'
The Frenchman was handed a clear winning opportunity by Kan on Second Opinion and he grabbed it with both hands to score a thrilling nose victory over the fast-finishing Chief's Fortune. Doleuze sent the 17-10 favourite to the front 300 metres from the line and looked set for a comfortable victory until Shane Dye's late charge on Chief's Fortune almost snatched victory from his grasp.
'I wasn't sure I had won,' Doleuze admitted after Second Opinion had continued his recent good form to open his account at the 15th attempt. 'I was quite confident when I went into the lead. He gave me a good response when I asked him to quicken and I thought he would win easily, but he is still a bit of a baby and he stopped a little when he got to the front. He was looking about in the last 50 metres but then he just found enough to fight off the other horse.'
Doleuze had to battle even harder to land his second winner aboard Perfect Victory, who appeared to be going nowhere halfway up the straight until a strong ride from the Frenchman persuaded him to put his best foot forward along the rail. The Derek Cruz-trained seven-year-old got up close home to snatch victory by a head from front-running stablemate Albela, with Energetic Prince a neck away in third and Felicity the same distance back in fourth place.
'He ran a good race on the inside,' Doleuze said. 'I was drawn two, so the trainer told me to get him balanced and take my time. The pace was good, which helped him, and I got a nice run in the straight but I had to get quite serious with him to make him go. I could feel he was responding and I just rode him as hard as I could to the line.'
The French connection also secured a double for Kan as stable jockey Gerald Mosse guided Speedy Forward to victory in the fourth race. The six-year-old, who has now won his last two starts after joining Kan two months ago, again swooped late to score by three-quarters of a length from Tim's Tonic, who looked a little unlucky as Douglas Whyte found trouble in running towards the inside. The double continued Kan's recent resurgence and moved him into a four-way tie for fourth place in the trainers' standings with 16 winners.