High drama for Lloyd, Ferraris on and off the track
A night of high drama on the Sha Tin all-weather surface left top jockey Jeff Lloyd injured, his mount Be Grateful dead on the track and punters financially wounded as unlucky April 13 chimed true for the Jockey Club last night.
Trainer David Ferraris is also rushing back to his father's hospital bed in South Africa today, after news filtered through that the legendary trainer Ormond Ferraris suffered a heart attack on his way to morning trackwork yesterday.
Ferraris was in South Africa last week to celebrate his father's 79th birthday, but the news of a heart attack stopped any celebrations of the trainer's drought-breaking win with Darpana in the third event of the night.
Darpana capitalised on the late scratching of the race favourite Elusive Prince - which resulted in the Club paying out HK$33.5 million in refunds - to break a horror losing streak for Ferraris of 116 runners since his last victory.
That scratching also put a serious tremor through the Jockey Challenge betting, with Elusive Prince's rider Douglas Whyte missing out on a major winning chance after being backed into HK$1.28 favourite.
His punters would later rue the late withdrawal after apprentice Vincent Ho Chak-yiu pinched the Challenge win from Whyte in the final event to beat the favourite by four points.
Challenge punters had already been shaken by the withdrawal of Lloyd after the second event, when his mount Be Grateful bled heavily and collapsed at the 200 metre mark, spearing the jockey into the dirt and leaving him with dizzy spells and stiffness in his neck.
A blow-out trio dividend of HK$4,043 was realised when HK$280 chance Eastern Empire beat home HK$460 hope Super Brand by three quarters of a length for hot combo Tony Cruz and Matthew Chadwick.
However, even the saving grace of the favourite Just Fantastic running third could not help Triple Trio punters and more than HK$8 million will jackpot to next week's pool.
'I expected Eastern Empire to run well on the dirt, he wasn't fully tuned up for his last start when Gerald Mosse rode him, but he was much fitter today,' Cruz said.
The win edged Cruz into the outright lead for the trainers' premiership title, one ahead of John Moore who went winless after a frustrating night.
However, it was an in-form Ricky Yiu Poon-fai who claimed the night's training honours with a double delight care of Buccaneer and Happy Reunion.
'I'm very happy with how all my stable have been performing and am only two wins away from having my best season as a trainer,' Yiu said.
'Buccaneer probably should have won last time if he had got the same split as he did tonight, he was very unlucky and was held up for a long time wearing the blinkers for the first time.
'He was still a bit slow away tonight, but he was very lucky and was able to cut straight to a midfield position on the rail, and his luck has evened out now.'
The earlier win of Cruz's Eastern Empire gave Yiu some confidence that Happy Reunion could also salute before the trainer saddled the final winner of the night.
'He is by Dubai Destination, the same sire as Eastern Empire, and we already know he can handle the dirt,' Yiu said.
'Off his current rating he has no chance on the turf, but he can still match them on the dirt.
'Mark Du Plessis pulled off a great effort to stop this horse making contact with the second horse in the straight, because Happy Reunion always hangs in and can be a difficult ride.'
It was a breakthrough win for Du Plessis, who has been here for less than a month this term, but will ride out the remainder of the season in Hong Kong.