Flamboyant Dye in Jolly Good mood
Shane Dye landed a double of richly contrasting styles at Sha Tin yesterday, but the quality of the performance failed to make a dent in the premiership lead of arch-rival Douglas Whyte.
It was, nevertheless, a satisfied Dye who headed home after recording an all-the-way victory on Jolly Good Fortune ($67.50) for Danny Shum Chap-shing and a narrow but authoritative win on late closer Star of Shantou ($23) for John Size.
Dye would dearly have loved to make it a treble by winning for his good friend and fellow Kiwi, Paul O' Sullivan, but the rookie from Matamata had to be content with a second placing for his first Hong Kong starter Tsunami in the seventh.
Both Star of Shantou and Jolly Good Fortune had won for Dye at their opening appearances for the season and had pleased the rider in between.
'Jolly Good Fortune worked absolutely brilliantly down the riverside on Thursday morning,' Dye explained. 'I said to Danny afterwards, if he runs out 1,400 metres okay, he'll just win. He had done so well since his first-up win down the straight.'
The flamboyant New Zealander took all the right options to land the fourth on Star of Shantou, who was having his third run in as many weeks.
'He's won narrowly and was lucky in this respect that he saved a lot of ground by following the rails all the way,' Dye continued.
When asked how big a future he predicted for Star of Shantou, Dye was hesitant.
'In all honesty, at the moment, he still feels weak - not a strong horse at all,' he replied. 'If anyone else trained him but John Size, I'd say he might struggle in higher grade. But you never say that about a John Size horse. I've seen him improve horses beyond recognition. They keep racing, and keep improving, and maybe Star of Shantou can as well.'
Regardless of how lenient handicapper Ciaran Kennelly tries to be with Star of Shantou, rated on 56 before yesterday, he'll cross the 60-point rating threshold and will therefore have his next start in Class Three.
Size described the victory as 'very straight forward'.
'He ran well last week when the track was rain-affected and the bias was favouring leaders,' Size explained. 'Today, he's had an inside draw, got all the inside runs, and was able to just get up on the line. We go on from here, his next run will be in Class Three and it's up to him. But he's won two in the first month of the season so we can't complain, he's going the right way.'
Jolly Good Fortune has made a worthwhile contribution to the flying start to Shum's sophomore season, as the brilliant young trainer sets the early pace in the new season trainers' title with seven winners. 'The reason I chose to run him in a 1,400 metres race was because there wasn't one over 1,000 metres for him,' Shum said.
'I saw he had run well in Australia in a race over 1,380 metres so I thought, well, maybe he'll handle the distance. When he drew wide I was naturally concerned but I discussed it with Shane Dye and we both agreed, there wasn't a lot of speed drawn inside him.
'In addition, the leaders had run very well in the earlier races. So we decided to go forward, try to get the lead and see what happens.
'Shane did a brilliant job, as usual,' Shum added.
Dye has been runner-up to Whyte on the jockeys' premiership in each of the past three seasons and if there was a downside to yesterday's splendid double, near treble, it was that Whyte also landed a no-nonsense two-timer to nullify his gain in the title chase.