Witness caps go begging in great giveaway
The Hong Kong Jockey Club has come full circle with the Silent Witness baseball cap saga in the past six weeks from scarcity and a stampede on Queen Elizabeth II Cup day to security overkill yesterday in an attempt to offload a surplus.
On April 24, a seriously flawed process for giving away 10,000 Silent Witness baseball caps to fans before the QEII Cup meeting saw a near riot and dozens of people injured, with a distinct absence of security measures.
Yesterday, however, after announcing 40,000 caps would be given away at Sha Tin as racegoers came through the turnstiles, elaborate measures were in place to ensure a peaceful process but almost 7,000 caps remained at day's end.
Racing fans can be fickle and perhaps demand for the caps had fallen away in the light of Silent Witness' two defeats lately, or perhaps it was merely that the club was well aware that a supply of 40,000 caps this time would surely exceed demand and avoid the previous chaos.
The latter theory proved correct, and with the attendance on-track at Sha Tin (caps were not handed out at the Happy Valley cross-betting meeting) published as 33,720, virtually everyone at the course must have come away with a cap.
Trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fie made it four wins straight when he took the opening race yesterday with Speed Fighter (Croey Brown).
Yiu had saddled up just three runners on Wednesday night at Happy Valley and won with Daneman Hill, Millennium Spirit and Trust Me.
Clearly stable followers envisioned more of the same yesterday when Jet Fighter won, with roll-up money seeing an opening price on Yiu's next runner, Kiwi Dash, under 2-1 and favourite.
Alas, he could manage only sixth to Spectacular Times and Yiu's other runner, Happy Kid, was third in the fifth race after roll-up support saw him open tight in the betting, too.
He raised his backers' hopes for a few strides but was unable to peg back runaway leader Enriching (Franky Tsui Kwan-wai) before being overhauled for second by Silver Mark on the line.
Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained Qi's Pet looked better than a Class Five horse yesterday as he led throughout to win the Shek O Handicap (1,400m) and his trainer is confident it won't be the last victory for the half-brother to Fantasy.
A rising five-year-old, Qi's Pet (Shane Dye) was having only his seventh race start yesterday after problems in mid-season.
'His right fore tendon was a problem but it seems to have settled down now and I thought the horse had an advantage dropping down into Class Five,' Shum said.
At his last run, Qi's Pet recovered from almost falling in the early stages to finish off well in a dirt 1,200m race in Class Four but the defeat managed to earn him a two-point drop in the ratings to the bottom class.
'I expect with time and more racing he will get tougher and although this puts him up to Class Four, I'm confident that Qi's Pet will win more races,' Shum said.