Woods plans Knight's retirement, but looks ahead with Decision

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 November, 2008, 12:00am

Sean Woods was unbeaten after two races with horses at polar-opposite ends of the experience spectrum, leaving the British trainer with two very different sets of future plans.

Woods was chuffed that First Knight, a loyal servant to the yard, had been able to land the opening race under an aggressive Brett Prebble ride and is now recommending a well-earned retirement for the nine-year-old.

'He's done a fantastic job and we're very proud of him,' Woods said. 'Today was his 111th start, it's a Hong Kong record number of starts and I think this would be a very nice way to finish it off. That will be my recommendation to the owners [the Eighth Floor Syndicate] and I hope they agree to it.

'We'll ensure he goes to a good home, in either Australia or New Zealand, and I hope the Jockey Club sees fit to give him a public farewell because he's been a wonderfully sound, competitive horse for a long period of time.'

First Knight's victory in the Class Five over 1,400 metres was his ninth win and he's banked HK$4.4 million. He's also landed eight seconds, five thirds and 11 fourths across a long career with just two trainers - David Hill originally, then transferring to Woods after Hill quit Hong Kong and moved to Singapore in the summer of 2005. First Knight debuted on May 25, 2002, in a griffin race over 1,000m. He was handled by Eddie Lai Wai-ming and ran last of 14 runners at 82-1. His four seasons with Hill provided three wins, but Woods has extracted the other six over the past three years and two months.

Just 30 minutes after First Knight set a new benchmark for thoroughbred longevity, Woods captured the Jasmine Handicap with impressive debutant Bold Decision, handled as professionally as ever by Douglas Whyte.

'He's a nice young horse and it's very pleasing to win today at his first start because he's not there yet mentally,' Woods said. 'All credit goes to the bloodstock agent who found him for me, Justin Bahen, he's the main story there.'

Woods said Bold Decision, an impressive trial winner at Sha Tin last month, is nowhere near the finished article.

'He's still inclined to want to go a bit keenly - in a hurry to do everything,' he said.

'We'll just take him along quietly now and I doubt you'll be seeing him until December.'

Whyte said Bold Decision's dominance in the trial had a negative side to it, because nothing had been able to go with the three-year-old to give him a sense of competition.

'I would have liked to have squeezed him up an inch in the trial but he had trialled well enough to win a maiden,' Whyte said.

'When he came out of the gates today, he bounded in the air, didn't leave cleanly so thought I'd ride him for cover from the headwind but he was a bit 'gobby' on me, threw his head around and that's when I made the decision to let him stride on as he did in the trial.

'On that effort, he wants a turn really - he was never going to win until 80m out then he really got his head out and dug down deep.'