Handsome debut win for Murphy
IRISH-American rider Declan Murphy stole the limelight from a bevy of Macau beauties when he emphatically announced his arrival on the Taipa scene last night.
Taipa went en fete for the opening night of the season, with the four top placegetters in the recent Miss Macau competition on course for the running of the feature named in their honour.
But it was new boy Murphy who had the first night's crowd buzzing with a dashing display of style and vigour on 5-2 favourite Handsome Knight in the third event on the eight-race programme.
There was a roar of excitement from the stands as Declan, a five-year veteran of the demands of Hong Kong racing, punched Handsome Knight to the front at the top of the straight in the Class Five, 1,000-metre dash and then rode the gelding right out with grim determination.
''I could not have asked for a better start. I suppose you could say I have been waiting about 10 years to ride a winner for my brother, Joe. I don't think I am overstating it when I say that this was one of the great moments of my career,'' Declan said.
''I was always going to be a jockey and Joe a trainer. It has taken this long to actually link up and now we have started it with a winner.'' Joe, who was quickly on hand to lead in the winner, was quick to praise his brother.
''He's great out of the gates and that's where this was won. I told him he could be slow away and that would make it hard, but Declan had him out on top and there are not many around stronger than him when it comes to getting them home,'' the trainer said.
But Declan will not be rushing into too many rides.
''I have two on Saturday and two on Sunday. I was about 124 pounds tonight and I want to get down more. But I am not going to live in a sauna to do it,'' he said.
Handsome Knight was locked in a duel with Sun Fat Treasure (10-1) for most of the trip. The Kenny Man-trained sprinter was ridden by claimer K. M. Cheung and when the chips were down it really was a case of men against boys.
Topweight Lucky Diamond (10-1) added value to the tierce by finishing third, just adrift of Sun Fat Treasure.
Australian rider Craig Hyeronimus won the featured Miss Macau event for trainer Tommy Lui Chi-sing on favourite Elong Sing (3-1).
He held on gamely from bottom-weight Money Talk (26-1), who was a pick-up ride for long-serving Simon Jones. He took over when former Queensland champion Neil Williams failed to complete medical formalities in time.
Elong Sing is raced by prominent Hong Kong and Macau owner James Sham Man-fai and there was plenty of jubilation when the strongly supported winner held on to win by a head.
The winner's task was made easier by the wayward antics of Winning Partners (10-1), who was matching strides with the Lui sprinter until he ran right off at the turn completely spoiling his chances.
One-time amateur jockey George Williams kicked off his second Taipa season in style - with the horse that gave him his first Taipa success.
Victory Winner (12-1) took the second race on the card just holding off fast-finishing top-weight Mon Cheri (14-1) in the 1,200-metre Class Four event.
''He's been good to me,'' said a delighted Williams.