Honest Happy Reunion proves his versatility with triumph on the dirt
Ricky Yiu Poon-fai can only ponder on what might have been with Happy Reunion had he been sound in the wind, but the honest five-year-old continued to make the best of life under difficulty, winning his fourth race and adding a new all-weather line to his form.
Happy Reunion became the second leg of a double for Alex Lai Hoi-wing, who sooled him forward from barrier 10 to gain a precious rails position in the early stages of the Salisbury Handicap (1,200m).
The gelding trailed Dane Patrol to the turn before going clear and defying all attempts to run him down.
'I wasn't sure if he would handle the all-weather. Actually, the other horses I've seen by his sire, Dubai Destination, don't seem to be effective on the dirt, but this horse is just a good performer on anything,' Yiu said.
'He runs well at Sha Tin, runs well at Happy Valley and now the dirt. He is a loveable professional and it isn't easy to find a horse with an attitude like this. He is very versatile and I think he might have been a Class One horse if he did not have a wind problem.'
After registering one win from his first six runs as a young horse, Happy Reunion underwent a throat operation in July last year, an event which is often the start of a decline in a horse's form.
But Happy Reunion has been a success story, capturing three wins and another six minor placings and collecting a prize-money cheque in all but three of his 16 starts since going under the knife.
Earlier in the day, Lai had led throughout to set the tone of the all-weather races on Solar Boy in the opening Class Five sprint for Peter Ho Leung, who also doubled up, winning with Healthy Blueberry (Ben So Tik-hung) in race three.
It was a first win for lightly raced Solar Boy, having his first attempt in Class Five and first-up for the season, and Ho said the best was yet to come for the four-year-old.
'The horse was very immature last season and is improving now with more time,' he said. 'He showed some ability in his all-weather trial, which is why he ran in this race today, but I do think he will also handle the turf and eventually more distance. As for Healthy Blueberry - he drew barrier one and he likes to lead so I thought he was very easy to give a good winning chance in the race today.'