Ill Marshall still a winner on final day
CUPS kings John Marshall wound up his season rather earlier than he had expected - but still did it on a winning note.
The former Sydney champion punched out Nikim (5-1) in typical dynamic fashion but after his ride in the following seventh event, he called it quits for the campaign.
Dehydration and a stomach bug which had kept him on the run for a couple of days were the twin causes of his decision to end what has been a tremendously successful season two races early.
Nikim, trained by Chris Cheung Ting-pong who used Marshall frequently in the latter's first season here, provided the Australian with the 48th winner of the campaign and third place on the jockeys' championship.
In the course of the season he grabbed 16 cups or trophies of some description, including the International Cup, Champions And Chater Cup and the Chairman's Prize.
This Class Four longer sprint was a lot less important than any of those races but Marshall was typically aggressive and French import Nikim broke his Hong Kong maiden at only his 13th race start here.
It was a good training effort by Cheung who has worked long and hard on the seven-year-old who was off the scene for a year with several problems.
''I am very pleased to have won with the horse because the owners have been very patient and that means a lot. I thought he had a good chance in an open race because he had been working well since his last run and this is the first time we have really be able to put races and good work into him,'' said Cheung.
Nikim wore down Auto Focus (7-1) close home but only just got up with last-start winner Top Performance (5-1) taking third place under Simon H. K. Yim.
Marshall said: ''It was good to get a last-day winner because I did have some rides on the card that looked promising.
''But I have been feeling not too good in the past 48 hours and I just had to pull the plug on it after the seventh event. I felt very weak and I wasn't too bright after riding in the fourth.
''But I wanted to carry on as long as I felt I could do them justice.
''Nikim wasn't quite as hard as it looked because he did respond very well. But it was a battle to the line with Basil [Marcus] going all out on the one on the inside.
''I lost two pounds in weight between the first and the sixth and I don't weigh much at the best of times.'' Graceful Win ended up the 5-1 favourite in a very open betting race but could do no better than sixth in the 11-runner event.
Allegresse (8-1) finished fifth without threatening.