Delpech drought ends at ride No 88
'It's been frustrating but it's my fourth year in HK and it's happened before - just not quite as bad as this time'
For that large percentage of Chinese who place store in luck and numerology, they'd have known that Anthony Delpech's drought was about to break at Sha Tin yesterday at ride number 88 since his last winner.
Technically, Super Snippets was ride number 89 but one of Delpech's earlier mounts, A Mirror, was declared a late scratching after he emerged from the starting stalls with the calming blindfold still on his head. So 88 it was and, unless the number was 888, there aren't any numbers considered more auspicious.
Super Snippets ($138) stormed home in the final 200 metres to grab short-priced favourite Grand Cru in the final stride to take the Hung Shui Kiu Handicap by a short head to break the former South African champion's horrendous run of outs.
Delpech's last winner had been Medic Legion, ironically for Super Snippets' trainer Paul O'Sullivan, on November 4 last year.
It was a relieved rather than excited Delpech who returned to scale, and as his mount was led through the gate into the winner's circle he raised his eyes to heaven and clearly mouthed the words 'thank you'.
How ironic that, just 30 minutes later, Delpech was back in the winner's circle again, this time courtesy of the John Size-trained All Chances ($235.50), giving the popular lightweight rider a 324-1 comeback double.
'I can go home and smile tonight,' Delpech said. 'It's been frustrating but it's my fourth year in Hong Kong and it's happened before - just not quite as bad as this time.
'At home in South Africa, if you go a week without a winner you feel disappointed, but here it can go on for weeks. I just kept working hard, kept my chin up and eventually it all works out.'
Delpech had felt his fortunes starting to turn earlier in the day but he had to endure a couple of final, cruel twists.
'I thought if Knight Templar [race two] had been able to get a run through on the inside, he could have won instead of running third,' he said. 'And then I had the horse [A Mirror] come out of the gates with his blindfold on and I was a bit miserable - I thought it was all happening again.'
Size had given Delpech a lot of winners in the 2004-05 season but those opportunities dried up last season when Australian lightweight Chris Munce was commanding most of the second-string rides for the yard. Size, who also prepared a double on the programme, is starting to hit top gear again for what will undoubtedly be a quick progression back towards his more familiar place near the top of the trainers' table.
'It looked to be a fast-run race and he was the stayer with a bit of freshness on his side,' Size observed, 'so he had exactly what was required.
'I told Anthony not to be too positive early, or he'd get a bit too keen and that would destroy his chances. He did exactly what I asked, took his time, and brought him into the race with a strong finish - it was a good effort first-up with 131 pounds.'
Size had earlier won a Class Four over 1,400m with Luminous (Olivier Doleuze), with the Frenchman taking over from the suspended Douglas Whyte and giving his mount a perfect transit.
'Luminous hadn't done much wrong and was just waiting for the right opportunity, and he got that today,' Size said. 'The barrier looked a bit tricky but Olivier had that offset quickly, and gave him a lovely passage. Once the other jockeys started feeling for their mounts before the turn, Olivier went for home and the horse has enough acceleration to win in that class.'