Saint-Martin and Hall build bold partnership
Eric Saint-Martin has ridden three winners for David Hall recently but the Frenchman regards a 'personal favour' asked by the Australian trainer to have been a far greater compliment.
Saint-Martin landed Bold Win ($53) in the ninth event, the gelding's first victory at the 12th time of asking, and continued the emerging association he has forged with Hall since the departure of Robbie Fradd for Singapore.
'On Thursday, David came up and asked me if I would mind doing him a favour, to gallop a horse for him down the riverside,' Saint-Martin recalled. 'I said, 'Sure, my pleasure', but got such a shock when I realised it was his Group One horse, Absolute Champion. I was so pleased, I thought that was a wonderful compliment to give me.'
Saint-Martin gave a positive review to the Hong Kong Sprint hero, who is also a last-start winner of the Chairman's Sprint Prize at Group One level. 'He worked very nicely,' Saint-Martin reported. 'At one stage, when I moved on him, he seemed to exhale quite hard so I sat quietly, waited until he was balanced, then let him run along his final 400 metres. He opened up beautifully, a really nice piece of work. He stretched out well and felt very good indeed - like a top horse.'
Danny Nikolic 'embarrassed' himself by winning the opening race on General Danske on the all-weather track by the widening margin of 61/2 lengths.
'I was a bit embarrassed because I would never normally do that, but this one caught me a bit by surprise,' Nikolic explained.
'He'd only had the three starts and had been disappointing in his second and third runs, so when he shifted ground with me slightly at the top of the straight I pulled my stick through and got to work on him.
'The amount he found really surprised me and he has opened up that big margin in the final stages. I'm pleased for the owner and Francis [Lui Kin-wai] that he's won, but he might get penalised a bit aggressively now because of that big margin.'
Thomas Yeung Kai-tong is a rider to keep following, especially as he emerged from a careless-riding inquiry after his win in the seventh event on Fantastic Sun with his licence intact. 'I'm just so pleased to have ridden a double - one for my boss [Tony Millard] and the other for Almond Lee [Cheerful Master],' Yeung said.
'They were both former bleeders and both were surprises to me, to be honest. With Fantastic Sun, the boss has done a great job with him to bring him back after that bleeding attack and get him fit without putting pressure on him.'
Yeung's double took him to 14 wins and saw him leapfrog Jacky Tong Chi-kit to be second to Marco Chui Kwan-lai in the race to become champion apprentice. 'I'm having a good run but I'm not taking anything for granted,' Yeung said.