Coetzee rekindles memories of famous green and black colours
'To get back on a winner for them [Archie and Betty] is just a thrill'
A return to the Silent Witness connection wiped away the bitter winter cold for jockey Felix Coetzee last night at Happy Valley as he pulled on the famous green and black colours again to land Eye Witness a winner.
It was the first time Coetzee had ridden this season for Archie and Betty da Silva, with most of the Tony Cruz stable riding these days being done by apprentice Marco Chui Kwan-lai, but the South African was all smiles after landing Eye Witness as the first leg of a double to bring back a flood of memories.
'I feel like a cat with nine tails - I love riding for Archie and Betty, we've had so many great moments together with Silent Witness and to get back on a winner for them is just a thrill,' beamed Coetzee.
'I know Eye Witness so well and, though, the offer to ride him has been there previously this season, it hasn't been possible as I had prior commitments to other horses. But tonight was his night.'
Coetzee parked Eye Witness just behind the lead in the Chuk Yuen Handicap (2,200m) then had no hesitation in a making a forward move down the side of the course at the 500m.
'A good draw, a lovely run and I don't think the soft ground was a bad thing for him either. I had a ton of horses turning for home even though, in the end, there wasn't a great margin there,' he said.
With Archie de Silva overseas on business, Betty held the fort for the ownership combination and her excitement was clear.
'It's been a long time since we've had a winner actually,' she said. 'I didn't know about the soft going but I was really hoping.'
Coetzee also brought home Class Five winner Speed Of Light for Peter Ng Bik-kuen in the fifth, and couldn't believe how well the old horse felt going down to the start. 'I think he enjoyed knowing there was rain around - he nearly tipped me off going to the start. He was just bouncing,' Coetzee said.
With Caspar Fownes absent at the sales in New Zealand, the yard managed to ensure that his regulation Happy Valley win arrived, with Darren Beadman describing Ferro Beau's win in the seventh as 'quite soft'.
Ferro Beau arrived fairly highly rated from his form in Western Australia and has taken his time to acclimatise, but with two wins from his past three runs now Beadman feels he may have more to give in Class Three.
'The margin was not that big but he just travelled like a winner the whole race,' he said. 'He hadn't raced for a while and was fresh which probably helped him get a nice spot in the race, but I like the way he won.'
So too was Noble Heart (Glen Boss), who had use of a well lubricated track in the final event and trainer Manfred Man Ka-leung believes that played a big part in the success.
'He had a good draw and Glen gave him a good ride but I don't think I have seen Noble Heart travel so comfortably in a race for a long time and I think that was because of the wet track,' he said.
Howard Cheng Yue-tin and trainer Me Tsui Yu-sak also had a double in combination, with Dragon Inn taking the second and Wong's Favourite continuing his great run of form in race six, while Alex Lai Hoi-wing brought up a pair himself with Tiger Ridge and Super Fighter.
Trainer Andy Leung Ting-wah had brought Super Fighter back from a mile to 1,200m to win last night but remains confident the horse will compete well at the longer distance.
'Next time in Class Three with a light weight I think he can return to the middle distance races - his mother was by Zabeel, so I'm convinced he will handle more distance,' Leung said.
In the stewards' room, everyone had a night off with no suspensions.