Stewards unhappy with Leung tactics
Stewards rattled the cage of trainer Andy Leung Ting-wah and gave warning to him and any other trainers who think a fanciful set of instructions will offer comfort at a subsequent running and handling inquiry.
The Leung-trained Cheerful Happiness, who drew wide in the sixth race, was generally expected to go forward in his normal pattern.
However, Leung instructed jockey Eddie Lai Wai-ming to obtain a position with cover, behind midfield.
Stewards asked Leung for a 'please explain' and were told that connections of the gelding had been disappointed with the way Cheerful Happiness had been finishing off his races lately when ridden forward. He also pointed out how Come Ho Choi, who he trained to win the opening event, had come from behind midfield.
Stewards, however, were unimpressed and told Leung the riding instructions issued to Lai 'bordered on placing him in breach of the Rules' and that he should ensure horses trained by him are ridden in a consistent manner where circumstances permit.
Almond Lee Yee-tat's relentless run of success has seem him become the big mover in the trainers' premiership race.
Yesterday, Lee was the leading trainer with yet another double, courtesy of South Breeze (Gerald Mosse) and Step To Win (apprentice Thomas Yeung Kai-tong). In just a couple of weeks since he joined David Hall in equal fifth place on the ladder, Lee is now six wins ahead of the Australian horseman on 39 wins and only two behind Dennis Yip Chor-hong and Tony Cruz (41 apiece).
'South Breeze has been a very consistent horse and it was quite lucky today that he adapted well to the slower pace and was happy to be ridden closer,' Lee said. 'As far as Step To Win is concerned, it wasn't Shane Dye's fault that he was beaten the other day, it was a problem with the wide barrier.'
Gary Ng Ting-keung pulled off one of the afternoon's bigger upsets when he lowered the boom on the 'good thing' Friendly Gains ($17 favourite) with an honest tradesman called Bulb King ($110).
Bulb King always relishes racing down the straight course and on this occasion was partnered by Eric Saint-Martin to win the Amah Rock Handicap by three-quarters of a length. 'He's a good old horse who has had leg problems but I just let him run his own race,' Saint-Martin said. 'I did not think he could win the race, so it was a pleasant surprise, but he seemed quite comfortable with the track condition today.'
Tony Millard said 'patience and persistence' was the key to the rejuvenation of Big Winner.
Big Winner had previously won over 1,800m on turf in Class Five and made it back-to-back victories, this time stretching his stamina to 2,200m. 'It just goes to show with these old transfer horses, you just have to be patient, try to keep them sound and keep trying new things,' said Millard. 'If you can do that, and keep them bright and interested, there's always a chance for them to win a race.'