Shea profits from Delpech ban by picking up Vengeance ride
Kevin Shea has been given a dream appointment, picking up the ride on Horse of the Year Vengeance Of Rain when the champ returns to racing in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile Trial on November 17.
It's a one-off engagement while Anthony Delpech serves the balance of his suspension stemming from his ride on Spare A Dime at Sha Tin in late December. Delpech failed to have the ban lifted when he appealed to the stewards of the Jockey Club on Friday, though he did get a two-meeting reduction from the original 11-meeting sentence.
Shea has the blessing of Delpech for the engagement, as both do a significant amount of riding for trainer David Ferraris and are good friends off the track as well.
In other big-race news, Eric Saint-Martin has picked up the mount on Absolute Champion in the Hong Kong Sprint Trial. The ride on last year's Hong Kong Sprint hero became available when Brett Prebble chose to ride Medic Power instead.
That, in turn, will mean Danny Shum Chap-shing must find a new rider for Scintillation, as his second-choice jockey, Gerald Mosse, is already booked for Sacred Kingdom.
Saint-Martin will also be the new rider for Bullish Luck in the International Cup Trial (2,000m) and Joyful Winner for John Moore in the Mile Trial.
Saint-Martin set two new-season benchmarks yesterday when suspended for careless riding on Singing Diners in the final event.
It was the Frenchman's fourth stretch on the bench for careless riding since the new term began on September 6. From 15 meetings so far, he's watched from the grandstand for six of them and must now do two more.
His bank account is also negatively impacted, with previous fines having been measured at HK$35,000 in lieu of each extra day of suspension. Yesterday he was additionally fined HK$50,000, in lieu of an extra two days, bringing his total of withdrawals for the season to HK$155,000.
Saint-Martin also set a new benchmark for the deferral of a careless-riding suspension. Chief steward Jamie Stier acknowledged that the jockey had commitments through to the International Trial programme on November 17, so he will ride at four meetings before moving to the sin bin.
Trainer Peter Ho Leung was delighted to see the return of Savute's 'fighting heart', just when most punters were questioning whether he had one at all.
The Danzero gelding had raced 21 times since arriving in town with a reputation that promised a lot more than it ever delivered. Not only had he not won before yesterday, but he had no seconds and just one third.
'It has not been easy to win with this horse, and today the good barrier undoubtedly helped,' Ho said. 'The other thing that might have helped was the visor. It seems to have suited him better than blinkers, and being able to see the horse alongside him we were able to see that he still has a fighting heart.'
The turnover spree continued at Sha Tin yesterday, albeit a bit more modestly. With a total handle of HK$900.3 million on the 10-race mixed card, the Jockey Club had to be satisfied with a mere 2.5 per cent increase.
However, the true picture was actually a bit more rosy than that because the comparative meeting in 2006 was a Sunday, which is always worth HK$40 to 50 million of additional turnover.
The only meeting to have sustained a year-on-year decline was the Happy Valley fixture on October 24, when the club put the movable rail in the C+3 position and was given some financial punishment by horse players in return.
Show me the money
The turnaround in spending continues
Percentage increase in turnover from last year at Sha Tin, even though it was a Saturday: 2.5%