O'Sullivan delight as stablemates claim quinella
Paul O'Sullivan has spent more than a season trying to get Jade Dragonfly back to winning ways and was as surprised as anyone that the one horse to beat him came from the trainer's own yard.
Luminous, a transfer from the John Size yard, kept on fighting hard for Jacky Tong Chi-kit and spoiled the Jade Dragonfly party by arriving at 73-1 in the final event.
This was only the second time at the races for Luminous under O'Sullivan's banner and, while the former champion New Zealand trainer was hopeful, the race was viewed more as a learning experience for the gelding's new handler.
'He ran OK first-time out over the 1,200 metres at Happy Valley,' O'Sullivan said.
'I saw that at his last run for John, he'd run second to Chater Silk over 1,650 metres at Happy Valley, and he had winning form over 1,400 metres at Sha Tin, so I thought 'why not a mile around Sha Tin'?'
Why not indeed was the appropriate answer, with the 20-20 vision of hindsight and, with an 18 pound weight pull over his more favoured stablemate, he was able to prevail by a short head.
Mark du Plessis on Jade Dragonfly later declared the topweight a good thing beaten, telling O'Sullivan he was badly baulked at a crucial stage in the stretch, getting pressure from both inside and outside at the same time that stalled his momentum.
'It's the sort of hold up you don't want happening when your horse is carrying 133 pounds,' Du Plessis summed up.
Although Jade Dragonfly was beaten, O'Sullivan was pleased to have the smart black gelding back on track after a year in the wilderness.
'He got a virus last year and never really recovered his form,' the trainer said.
'But the way he's been working lately has been a whole lot better, and I'd have been very disappointed if he hadn't done something positive today.'
Jade Dragonfly was back into Class Three yesterday for the first time since June 2007, but O'Sullivan has no qualms about the inevitable small rating increase taking him over the threshold and back into Class Two.
'He's won in Class Two before, and with a light weight in that grade he will still be competitive,' he added.
O'Sullivan book-ended the programme, having also landed the opening event for the cellar dwellers with Supreme Commander (HK$24.50 favourite), who won clearly under the peerless navigation of Douglas Whyte.