Size finds solace in Sapelli and Dispatcher wins
John Size didn't have a runner in the Derby, but the champion trainer took the next best prize with a double that included Sapelli's first Group victory in the Premier Plate (1,800m) and a maiden win for the promising Dispatcher.
Sapelli earned his spot in the Group Three event after graduating from Class One at his prior start and, with the rise in grade, Size's honest galloper made light work of his 113-pound impost after a heady ride by Eddie Lai Wai-ming.
'I think Sapelli has been so consistent that whenever he drops to the limit he's going to be a good chance of winning,' Size said. 'It was good for him to get up beside the favourite early in the straight, he's a very tough horse Sapelli, and is a great fighter in a finish.
'That's his strong suit, if he gets beside you, and eyeballs your horse, you're in trouble.'
Size turned to lightweight Lai to take the reins on the gelding after the majority of Sapelli's previous riders were unable to make the handicap weight, and the local rider made the most of his opportunity, swooping to the outside of race-favourite Mighty High upon straightening.
From there it was a toe-to-toe stoush to the line, with Sapelli finally prevailing by a short head as the weight took its toll on the brave John Moore-trained runner-up and odds-on favourite.
'John Size horses are always strong to the line, and the weights were in our favour so I was confident he would have enough to fight in the finish,' Lai said. 'I went early because I didn't want Mighty High to get away on us, and I was able to get past Jamesina before he could push us wide, so it all worked out well.'
Size then claimed a race-to-race double with hot favourite Dispatcher, who was heavily supported into even money favourite before out-grinding his rivals to claim the Super Fit Handicap at his first try over 1,400m.
'Dispatcher has made natural progress through his three runs, he should have run a clear second last start behind Carry The Zeal, but was held up,' Size said. 'He's progressing slowly and gradually, and got circumstances to suit today and he took advantage of it.'
Dispatcher worked to the front from his awkward draw under regular rider Douglas Whyte and kicked strongly to the line to hold his challengers at bay and land a neck win over Super Horse, with a further neck to the brave Quantum Power in third.
'Dispatcher won't make any great leap from this win, but he's only three, and he's bred to go a little bit further than 1400 metres,' Size said.
'Hong Kong horses need experience more than anything else. They need to get used to the tempo of the place and the environment, which all takes time.'
Whyte also bagged an early double after claiming the first aboard Ferrabosco for trainer Me Tsui Yu-sak, before the South African endured a frustrating run of seconds, which included Mighty High, Adoration, New Vision and Paganini's Soul.
'I rode Ferrabosco over 2,200 metres the other day and, turning for home, I thought he was going to run in the first three, and then he flattened out,' Whyte said.
'Today back to the mile, I just rode him like an out-and-out stayer. We were able to make it a staying contest, he beat off the other leader, and then nothing could make ground.'