Laser makes up for his mischief
Aussie jockey wins the last but not without an embarrassing preliminary
Brett Prebble was left with a slightly stiff neck but very much the last laugh after Laser Power dropped him on the way to the start for the final race at Happy Valley last night but wound up the winner.
Prebble and the David Hall-trained sprinter parted company in the preliminary but all it meant was Laser Power getting a shortcut around to the starting position instead of having to do a circuit of the track.
'He spins around - does it all the time - and he's had many victories in the mornings,' Prebble said with a grimace. 'Actually, tonight was a bit different because he trotted away. He normally stands there and waits for you to get up and get on and take him on again.'
Hall was concerned not for the extra work the horse had done, for there wasn't any, but for the statistical aspects of the incident.
'They don't win when they get away or break through the gates or things like that,' Hall said.
But Laser Power's victory was the second in the same circumstances in recent weeks, with Speed Of Light winning at Sha Tin recently after losing Olivier Doleuze on the way to the start.
'When Brett rode him work before his first-up win in Class Three, he said he thought the horse had definitely improved,' Hall said.
'And he's probably done his job winning in Class Two. He wasn't an expensive horse, that's four wins and four seconds from 12 runs and he's paid his way.'
The sprinter was never going to lose last night despite sitting three wide with some cover in the race and Prebble said the outside draw may have been a blessing.
'I don't know what it was tonight but I felt the inside of the track wasn't the place to be so when we came to that race and the wide gate, I wasn't too unhappy,' he said.
Prebble also scored on Caspar Fownes-trained Socrates as a 'stand in' for the horse's regular recent partner, Robbie Fradd, now riding in Singapore.
'I rang Robbie and said 'what do you think?' and he asked me how far,' Prebble said. 'I said 1,650 metres and he said, 'you'll be OK, you're younger and fitter than I am'.' While the Fownes yard had to settle for second with Excellent Boy behind Famous Dancer (Eric Saint-Martin) in the night's featured January Cup, a double on the night extended its lead in the championship race, with assistant trainer Chris So Wai-yin having thrown the saddle on Pionero to score an overdue win in the third as well as Socrates.
'The boss will be happy, two wins and three seconds,' said So, deputising while Fownes along with a number of other trainers is away at the Magic Millions sales in Australia.
'All I said to Brett was to just watch Socrates because he can drop the bit but he said after the race he was never going to be beaten.'
Pionero (Douglas Whyte) had been without luck at his past five starts, including a race for Whyte on International Jockeys Championship card over the same trip but the Durban Demon ensured him a clear passage last night.
'I thought he was coming to win that night I rode him and he showed some acceleration, so I just let him settle and do the same tonight and he won well,' said Whyte, who won the opener on David Ferraris-trained Obviously. 'I liked Obviously's last run at 1,200m because he over-used himself and still ran second. Dropping back to 1000m, I was happy to draw wide because you had those quick horses in it; he could track across and trail into the straight.
'He hasn't had much racing yet so he might not be finished.'
Famous Dancer's win gave Saint-Martin a quick follow-up feature after winning Sunday's Bauhinia Sprint and once again the rider's cool tactics made the narrow difference.
'Back up to the 1,800m tonight was much better for him,' the rider said. 'I wanted to get him relaxed then come down the outside and with someone to take me into the race and I was just lucky to get on to the back of Excellent Boy.'