Millard delighted with Five Grains
Tony Millard had a definite spring in his step after Douglas Whyte had worked a lion-taming role on Five Grains in the final event, completing a double for the former champion South African handler as well as being the final leg of Whyte's four-timer.
Irish-bred Five Grains, a son of Spectrum, has been his own worst enemy on any number of occasions and one day threw a race away when he veered erratically towards the outside rail.
But yesterday, under the gentle but determined guidance of the master, Five Grains went straight and true, capitalising on his drop into Class Three and gaining a short-head verdict over Lucky King (Glyn Schofield).
'He's been quite a temperamental kind of horse, not easy at all,' Millard explained. 'He wasn't straight forward when Douglas had his first ride on him, either. But Douglas learned from that ride on him and made no mistake this time.'
Whyte added: 'The mile was the big factor with him today. I wasn't worried about the weight - he's been carrying light weights in Class Two over the 1,800 metres but he just doesn't shut down sufficiently when racing at that distance. Today, he was more relaxed, dropping back to the mile, and I thought he showed a bit of class, the way he finished it off.'
Two races earlier, Millard had welcomed the first Hong Kong win of fast three-year-old sprinter Golden Care, a bay colt bred in Zimbabwe. Golden Care ($53.50) travelled comfortably in second place behind grey front-runner Victory Warrior before taking over at the 300 metres and bolting clear under Whyte's urgings.
'He's actually from the same area as the champion filly Ipi Tombe, who won the Dubai Duty Free (Group One) on Dubai World Cup night last year,' Millard continued.
'I really like this horse. You have to remember, he's only a young three-year-old and there's a lot of improvement to come as he gets older and stronger. Today's race was 1,200 metres but I think he'll get 1,400 metres without a worry and, eventually, maybe even a mile.'
The performance suitably impressed the champion jockey. 'He's got a good engine,' Whyte said. 'He's taken a few runs to come right but he was a victim of circumstances at Happy Valley last time and I think he is going to make into a handy horse. I don't think he's just a dirt horse - he'll win on the turf as well.'
The double saw Millard leapfrog Derek Cruz on the trainers' premiership table, taking him to 23 for the season and equal 11th with another champion South African mentor, rookie David Ferraris.