Drop in trip does trick for Supreme
Coming to the home turn on leader Classa Supreme in the second event, jockey Alex Lai Hoi-wing just knew trainer Peter Ho Leung had produced the masterstroke to get the front-running gelding back to form.
After two successive defeats over the 1,650 metre course at Happy Valley - scene of his biggest win in a heat of the International Jockeys' Championship two years ago - Ho decided a fresh gameplan was called for.
'We have kept going back to the Happy Valley 1,650 metres,' Ho said. 'But apart from that one easy win under Olivier Peslier, there have been a lot of disappointments.
'I told the owners we should freshen him up and try Sha Tin 1,200 metres and it's paid off.'
Lai said it was a case of basic mathematics.
'At Happy Valley, he's been in front everywhere but the last 150 metres. Today, the race is only 1,200 metres. When nothing challenged us in front, he got racing very comfortably and was quite relaxed.
'Nearing the home turn, he pricked his ears and had a look around. That told me he was travelling easily, without any stress, and that he'd probably give me a good kick when I asked him for an effort in the home straight.'
Thirty minutes later, Lai completed a double when leading throughout on longshot Galaxy Dancer for Francis Lui Kin-wai in the middle-distance Class Five.
Me Tsui Yu-sak refuses to take credit for the improved form of Supreme Dragon, who brought his record to two wins and two seconds in four starts for the yard this term.
The gelding was formerly trained by Michael Chang Chun-wai and Tsui said his fellow horseman would 'certainly' have gained the same results if the stable transfer had not taken place.
'The secret with Supreme Dragon has simply been that he is a more mature horse this year. I am the one with the good luck to capitalise on it, but if he was still with Michael, he would certainly have been the one getting these two wins.'
Supreme Dragon won the Gallop Handicap (1,800m) with a late lunge that nailed Mega Bullet (Mark du Plessis) in the final two strides.
But winning jockey Eric Saint-Martin said winning the photo merely saved everyone some time.
'If I had been beaten in the photo, I would have got the race on protest for sure,' the Frenchman added.
Australian jockey Zac Purton has struck a winning relationship with Peter Ng Bik-kuen, landing his fourth winner for the trainer with Expeditious yesterday, and seems to have a knack with the horses of owner Hung Yat-fai.
Ng does well with what is only a smallish team of 23 horses at latest count, but Purton was recently successful for the same owner-trainer combination on Exploding and will be hoping the run continues after trialling Hung's new Redoute's Choice three-year-old recently, Extractive.
'I've also won a couple on Watchman for Peter,' Purton said.
'I've tended to stick with Peter's horses when I've had choices of mounts and, in return, he's stuck with me so it's nice when I can win one for him. All this horse needed was a bit of luck. He's been racing well for a while and just finding one better on the day.'
Yesterday it was Expeditious who had the longest nose, however, holding out the late run of favourite Majestic Heart (Brett Prebble) to get the camera's verdict - a bob that was the difference the other way when they were last in a photo finish together in May.