Socrates gives Fradd fitting Valley send-off
Former Hong Kong champion jockey Robbie Fradd may have taken his final farewell of Happy Valley last night by landing the final race on Socrates.
Fradd departs for Singapore after Sunday's Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races where he has three rides of the hopeful rather than expectant kind, but managed a going away present with win number 385 of an eight-year Hong Kong career.
'I've got too many people to thank really for my time here but I do especially want to thank Caspar Fownes and David Hall who have been my biggest supporters in recent times and they've been terrific,' said the 1999-2000 season's champion rider as he bowed out on Socrates for Fownes.
In a change for the honest stayer, Socrates actually travelled like a real racehorse in last night's event and Fradd didn't finish as breathless as he done last time out when forced to pump the horse for most of the race.
'He jumped away tonight and that seems to be the sign that he's brought his A-game,' Fradd said. 'He did it first-up with me too, he jumped and travelled. When he doesn't jump, that's when you have to stay at him the whole way and he's a tough ride.'
But Fownes, who landed another double to stretch his lead out to 12 wins in the trainers' title race, believes the application of a tongue tie last time might have been a key.
'I do think it has helped him. You know he's got such a consistent record this horse when you look closely at it,' Fownes said. 'But last season he had problems all the time with mucus, he was full of it, and that's why he put in those poor runs at times. He was stepping up in grade tonight to Class Two for the first time but I lied to him before the race and told he was still in Three.'
But if Socrates' effort to win three of four this season has been an eye opener, then Maverick's form turnaround has been extraordinary.
After battling for his first 13 runs, Maverick has now strung together five wins and three placings from his last eight starts as he has matured and given a nice ride by Eddie Lai Wai-ming. 'He used to sweat up and didn't help himself before his races but as he's got older, that has stopped and the wins have started to come,' Fownes said. 'He looks a nice progressive stayer now.'
The other star turn amongst the trainers was Andy Leung Ting-wah, who landed a double with a revamped Windicator (Douglas Whyte) in the opener then a leg of the Jockeys' Championship with Fortune Warrior (Andreas Suborics) in the seventh.
Windicator showed some ability during his first preparation in Class Three last season but is a different horse since being gelded in October and won the Class Four sprint like a much better class of horse.
And Derek Cruz was finally able to get a bit of luck in running with Hong Kong Gem (Gerald Mosse) to give the King Of Kings gelding his first win.
'He doesn't really cope with Sha Tin so he's done most of his racing here at Happy Valley and hasn't always had the best of luck in his races, including his last start,' he said.
'This time he had a good draw, Gerald Mosse and for a change things went his way. I think he will handle racing on the dirt at Sha Tin so I will try him at that but he really doesn't like the turf there.'