Young guns blaze to glory at city track
Youth dominated experience at Happy Valley last night, with apprentice Derek Leung Ka-chun outriding his claim and graduating to the senior ranks, while fellow apprentice Vincent Ho snared a double to reduce his weight claim from seven pounds to five.
Leung landed his long awaited 70th win on the Tony Millard-trained Star Of Fame at just his fourth ride back from a careless riding suspension that had threatened to push the milestone win into next term.
'It was a great feeling to achieve my goal before the end of the season, and I must thank my boss Paul O'Sullivan especially for helping me get there,' Leung said.
'All the trainers have been very supportive of me, but Paul has been a huge help to me in my career.'
Leung powered down the centre of the track on Star Of Fame to record a three-quarter-length win over El Grande in the Black's Link Handicap (1,200m) to join the ranks of the senior riders as a freelance jockey with just a three-pound claim.
Ho's double not only earned him an upset win in the Jockey Challenge, after oddsmakers quoted him at $55 on Tuesday afternoon, but also brought up a double for master Caspar Fownes and moved him one step closer to out-riding his own apprenticeship. Ho has now chalked up 45 wins in total and 33 this season to shed his seven-pound claimer tag and move down to a five-pound weight allowance.
Wins on the heavily supported pair of My Way and Many Gains had punters cheering, as Fownes pulled off another two Valley plunges.
'My Way drew perfectly and has been extremely consistent all season, I think he's had something like 18 runs for 15 prize-money cheques,' Fownes said. 'Vincent gave him a perfect ride and both deserved the win for their performances tonight.'
My Way downed Great Renown by three-quarters of a length to claim the Sir Cecil's Ride Handicap (1,650m) - before Ho combined with stablemate Many Gains to land a huge betting plunge with his 11/4-length romp over Super Plus in the Wong Nai Chung Gap Handicap (1,200m).
'Vincent committed to getting to the front from the wide gate, but most impressive was the way that he rated the pace so well once he got there,' Fownes said. 'It's great to see him drop down to the five pounds, even though it means we will lose some advantage in using him. He's a good kid and we'll continue to support him right through into his senior riding years.'
Tony Cruz and John Moore kept the trainers' premiership at the status quo with one win apiece, Cruz landing odds-on hope Crown Witness, before Moore copied the trick with the short-priced Kyara in the final event.
Jockey Matthew Chadwick must have had a sense of de ja vu as he rounded the home bend on Crown Witness before taking out the Cricket Club Valley Stakes (1,650m), with the win a direct replica of the pair's last-start win over the same course.
'I was actually hoping that Crown Witness would relax a little better than he did, we went a touch faster than I would have liked early, but we were lucky to get a breather down the back straight and around the bend before he gave his final kick,' Chadwick said.
Darren Beadman also endured some anxious moments on Moore's $1.90 favourite Kyara in the last, before driving the horse out to the line and a neck margin over My Mate Adric in the Mount Nicholson Handicap (1,650m).
'I think this horse will be better suited at Sha Tin after seeing that,'' Moore said. 'He's got a win on the board for us now and done a good enough job.'
Jacky Tong Chi-kit was suspended for three meetings for his ride on Pinot Noir in the opening event.
Tong replaced apprentice Ben So Tik-hung on the mount after So underwent minor surgery to remove a boil from his face, and will start his suspension after Sunday's programme at Sha Tin.