Double points to signs of a happier new year for O'Sullivan
Paul O'Sullivan predicts his January momentum will continue to accelerate after he landed a Sha Tin double, making it three winners for the new year for the 11-time champion New Zealand trainer and an apparent end to a lethargic start to the season.
O'Sullivan was runner-up to Caspar Fownes on last term's title chase and many would have had him favourite to go one better this season. But with just 11 winners to the end of December, O'Sullivan realised he needed to start playing catch-up.
'It's just great to get the winners flowing again,' he said after He Can Tango had stormed between horses to take the final event at odds of 18-1 on a day of upsets.
'It has been a disappointing start to the season, no doubt about that, but we've started 2008 positively with a winner on New Year's Day [Never Look Back] and now a double today.
'I think January will be a good month for us, and a lot of the horses in the yard are just starting to come right.'
Spring Smiles ($68) sprinted home strongly to take the Class Five mile on the all-weather track and benefited from a superb piece of navigation from the Durban Demon, Douglas Whyte.
'Douglas said to me the best thing that could have happened to him was drawing 14,' O'Sullivan explained. 'Last time, the inside barrier did him no favours and Douglas was only too happy to have drawn wide.'
Whyte added later: 'I'm never usually doing a high five when I draw barrier 14 but in this case, that's exactly what I did.
'He's always a bit slow and a bit sluggish for the first 600 metres of his races. Last time, from a low draw, he got the rail, started to come into the race and then got jammed up. With 133 pounds, he couldn't push out.
'Today, I took my time with him early and then set him alight, going forward around them from around the 700m. Without any interruption to his run, he was able to make up really good ground today and let down very well at the finish.
'He has his limitations, but by the way he went there, in a Class Four with a light weight I think he'll be very competitive.'
Whyte also gained an honourable mention after the win of He Can Tango, which he'd ridden at his previous start while Olivier Doleuze was suspended.
'Douglas got off this last time and said the pace hadn't suited him but the horse felt like he was going well and would be hard to beat next time he ran,' O'Sullivan reported. 'As usual, he was spot on.
'It's just typical of Hong Kong racing, that a horse like him, if everything goes his way, he can win and he's had his birthday today.'
Scoring in the final event of the card yesterday gave Doleuze a welcome double as well, having book-ended the meeting by landing Cheerful Happiness in the opening event of the day.