Saint-Martin sets cracking pace with fifth suspension in just 19 meetings
Eric Saint-Martin will be back to ride on International day, despite collecting his fifth careless-riding suspension in a season just 19 meetings old.
Saint-Martin was due to begin a deferred two-meeting ban today, but another suspension was inevitable after the Frenchman forced his way out of a pocket on Absolute Champion near the 200m of the Sprint Trial, leaving Able Prince and Regency Horse much the worse for wear and Planet Ruler and Sunny Sing inconvenienced.
Saint-Martin pleaded guilty and will begin the three-day ban immediately after his deferred suspension, with the bottom line being that he will not return to the saddle until December 6. In addition, he was fined another HK$50,000 in lieu of another two days' ban.
There was no fancy margin but the torture finally ended with the application of blinkers for Fantastic Guy as the first half of an Olivier Doleuze double.
With eight prior runs for four minor placings, and some of them agonisingly close, Fantastic Guy had not exactly let the side down but trainer Derek Cruz pulled the master stroke with a pair of blinkers and Doleuze got him home by a neck.
'I am very happy he finally won with me because the owner was very good and offered me Fantastic Guy to try and give me a winner when I was struggling at the start of the season,' Doleuze said. 'The blinkers made the difference - before he was waiting for the other horses when he came out to finish the race but he put his head down today.'
It was a tough day at the office for the Dream Team, and its supporters, as John Size and Douglas Whyte managed to bring home a double after what had looked a picnic in prospect.
But as so often happens, the big day on paper didn't translate to reality with hot favourites Sight Winner and Special Days beaten in the first and last while Presto and Danabaa were defeated at not much longer odds in races two and three.
The only respite for Whyte followers was with Slow Waltz making it two on end in the ninth, while Size did manage one good-priced winner with Real Special (Felix Coetzee) in the fifth.
'Slow Waltz was just classic John Size, I think,' said Whyte. 'When he first got here and I rode him, Slow Waltz gave you a decent feel but nothing like the feel you get from him now.
'He lengthened right out today and he's a clearly a horse enjoying his racing.'
Size said the switch to 1,400m had suited Slow Waltz, who had arrived with form over shorter distances from Australia. 'He had three runs in Sydney at 1,400m and didn't run a place but he got here and found the Hong Kong sprinters go a bit fast for him. He's enjoying the 1,400m tempo more,' he said.