Moments of magic: Mark Richards' rides of the year
ERIC SAINT-MARTIN, Super Fighter,
From a 17-strong group of finalists for ride of the year, Saint-Martin wins it for his handling of the modest Super Fighter in this race at Happy Valley. From barrier seven, it looked like he deliberately missed the start and then cut across to the rails, ultimately getting up inside Douglas Whyte on Funtrap, who had drawn in gate two. Super Fighter then travelled in the box seat, which was impossible to imagine before the race, hit the front at the top of the straight and careered away to win well. Super Fighter has since proved to be pretty average but getting the 'ride of the year' made this his winning opportunity.
ANTHONY DELPECH, Fortune Gold,
Speaking of average horses, they don't get much more one-paced than Fortune Gold, but an excellent ride from Delpech turned this plodder into a winner. The sectional times for the first 700m of this Sha Tin race were 14.1, 24.4 and 26.9 and it was after this slow sectional that Delpech said, 'Right, let's go'. He also showed an understanding of the hard race fitness of this John Size-trained galloper and was confident enough to make that extra use of him mid-race. This was Fortune Gold's only win for the season and the closing sectionals (24.3, 24.9) showed that if Delpech hadn't taken the initiative when he did, he wouldn't have won this one either.
BRETT PREBBLE, Jubiloso,
Jubiloso won three races for the season and two were due to crackerjack Prebble rides. But the exhibition he gave to get Jubiloso home at Happy Valley in this race was outstanding. Firstly, he got Jubiloso to begin quickly - something he'd never done before - and then worked across with Shining Dragon, knowing that horse would forge ahead. Prebble then afforded his mount the luxury of a mid-race breather which made all the difference to the result. Jubiloso has never been an easy horse to ride. However, this ride may have been the highlight, but Prebble produced many top-class rides throughout the season.
GLYN SCHOFIELD, Members Glory,
This was another win for initiative, with Schofield showing excellent judgment of pace to extract a second win of the season from a strictly limited horse. In a similar scenario to Delpech on Fortune Gold, Schofield judged the pace to a nicety and boldly made a mid-race move to take up the pacemaker role when the speed was muddling. When he was three lengths clear at the 600m, he even gave Members Glory a breather before stoking him up again shortly after straightening. It was a win in which a jockey had to have the courage of his convictions and back himself to do something different when the circumstances of the race looked to be conspiring against him.
DOUGLAS WHYTE, Classic Horse,
Throughout his record-breaking season, we have seen Whyte consistently do the high-percentage stuff - it's his consistency that makes him a champion jockey. But while we are used to Whyte getting it right so often, week in and week out, the Andy Leung Ting-wah-trained Classic Horse was an outstanding ride. This horse was a non-winner who was taught to win by the master, taking him back from a wide barrier and working his way through the field along the rails, which undoubtedly was the preferred ground. With the Durban Demon riding with supreme confidence, Classic Horse found a flattering new level of performance.