Apprentice Ho claims Cup glory but cops four-day suspension
Apprentice Vincent Ho Chak-yiu won the battle but lost the war at Happy Valley last night, doing a fine job to get home first on Windicator Power but catching the wrong end of a suspension.
'It's a shame because it's been a really good effort to win the race. The horse never helped him at any stage and just wanted to hang all the way through the race,' winning trainer Caspar Fownes said.
'The horse wouldn't come out from behind them at the top of the straight then, when Vincent did get him out and running on, he laid in again on the horses inside him.'
The win earned Ho his fifth careless riding suspension of the season and the stewards made it stick, with a four-day ban for the young jockey to start after the April 20 meeting.
For Windicator Power it was a breakthrough victory after he had shown promise in several runs since arriving this season.
'He hit the line strongly when he did actually go forward and it's nice to get him to win one,' said Fownes, who had won earlier in the evening with new acquisition Many Gains [Brett Prebble]. 'Windicator Power hasn't completely settled into things here so I hope there are more wins in him yet and maybe the wet tracks towards the end of the season will suit him.'
Many Gains had become a disappointing horse since winning his second race start in February 2008 and that was why he found himself down in Class Five last night, but he turned it all around at his first run for Fownes.
'You see it time and time again, these horses that have become disappointing and jaded in one yard move to another and it switches them on again,' said Fownes. 'I've only had him three weeks so it's a nice turnaroud. He probably has his limitations but he won well enough tonight and he might be able to pinch one in Class Four with a light weight. He did look a decent horse at one stage.'
Gary Ng Ting-keung was able to share training honours with Fownes, after early wins by Vintage Hussler (Eddy Lai Wai-ming) and Koenigsberg (Zac Purton) gave him his first winning double since June 2009.
Vintage Hussler's all-the-way win in the opening race was a welcome return to form after the gelding lost his way after illness last season.
'He won at Sha Tin over 1,000m so he is better suited at this distance and he probably liked the cushion in the track tonight too,' said Ng. 'But he got a lung infection last year and that's the main reason why he hasn't shown his true ability recently. He was a bit healthier tonight.'
Likewise, Koenigsberg's season has not been straight forward, but he did well last night. 'The race panned out well when the two leaders early opened up a gap for me to cross into,' Purton said. 'Koenigsberg has taken a while to get fit but he also hasn't had much luck with the wide gates either and tonight the race just fell into place for him.'
The other highlight was John Size joining the elite club of trainers to have saddled up 600 winners in Hong Kong racing, with his only runner Flora Danica (Jeff Lloyd) winning the fifth despite his habit of overracing.
'He probably looks worse than he is - he's not really pulling, he's just on his mouth a bit and they didn't go that quick,' said Lloyd. 'He's had excuses but got a good draw today and he quickened up pretty nicely.'