It's a memorable night at the Valley for Prebble as he grabs a treble
It was Brett Prebble to the fore at Happy Valley last night, as the top Australian jockey conquered the whims and foibles of his mounts to land a winning treble and the Jockey Challenge.
Prebble opened up with Harry Harry for Manfred Man Ka-leung in the Class Five but spread his talents around, scoring with Viva Fighter for Caspar Fownes later in the night and Glenealy Star for Dennis Yip Chor-hong in the seventh.
'They're both funny horses, Viva Fighter and Glenealy Star,' Prebble said. 'Especially Glenealy Star, he is very timid. I was nearly going to lead until a few came over towards him from the outside barriers and he just got scared and put the brakes on at the first turn. He seriously needs blinkers, he's a very nervous horse in a field, but he has got his share of ability.'
Prebble has won several races on Viva Fighter for Fownes and it was his touch that made the difference in a recent trial win to prepare for last night's victory.
'I actually fancied him a bit last start, when I was in Australia, and I was mystified by the result at first,' said Fownes. 'He'd got down in the ratings during the season and I thought was ready to win. When I got back they told me Viva Fighter was very stirred up behind the gates and sweating that night, which just isn't him. So I asked Brett to trial him, he knows the horse very well, and we didn't hide anything - he won the trial by a big space.'
Prebble said he had sent Viva Fighter along to make sure he was fully wound up for last night's effort but was thankful that the race had broken so perfectly for him.
'He drew well, which is half the battle, but a little bit of experience on this horse goes a long way - he isn't just a walk up and jump on horse - but the good speed on tonight really helped him too,' he said. 'As for old Harry Harry, well, he's easy to read. While he's free in his action like he was tonight, he's still handy but he's eight years old so he probably doesn't have those days all the time.'
Age was a constant companion on last night's card with Andy Leung Ting-wah managing to win with another eight-year-old Fortune Warrior (Way Leung Ming-wai) over 1,800m for the first time in his lengthy career.
'Before, the mile was perfect for him and the 1,800m just a little too far,' said trainer Leung. 'But now he is an old horse, he needs to warm-up and he appreciated the longer race.'
The feature went to Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained Quick Touch (Eddie Lai Wai-ming), who claimed the Fance Galop Cup in the final stride, finding the task a little easier than taking on the top four-year-olds recently at Group One level.
'A much easier race and a good draw made the difference,' said Shum. 'Really, he was not good enough for the Derby and those races, but the owner was keen to have a try and a horse only gets one chance to run in a Derby so he ran. But this race was more his kind of race.'
John Size also struck another rare blow at the Valley, with man In The Mirror (Olivier Doleuze) in the Pearce Memorial Challenge Cup. Doleuze made a lightning mid-race move around the field in the back straight to pave the way for Man In The Mirror's win but Size lamented that his opportunities are few and far between. 'He has plenty of stamina but not many races - and he has to be ridden the way Olivier did tonight,' he said.
'When he won before, on the dirt and here, both times Douglas Whyte took off early on him and got a break.' Stewards had their hands full after the fourth, with Alex Lai Hoi-wing (two days and $30,000) and Brett Doyle (two days and $15,000) copping careless riding bans.