Yiu's charges in thick of the action
Ricky Yiu Poon-fai's great season steamed ahead at Happy Valley last night with another winning double but it wasn't all beer and skittles for the trainer, with his top sprinter Romantic City providing a sensation in the feature event.
Romantic City, the expected leader, appeared on the television shot to have been hampered by a gate attendant as the gates opened and the horse began awkwardly and dumped jockey Zac Purton.
He was later declared a runner but Yiu had no issue with that after attending the stewards' inquiry.
'Actually, it only looked like he was holding him, the attendant was actually pushing the horse's neck forward just as the gates opened,' said Yiu, who otherwise enjoyed a good night to take him to 49 winners and within sight of the half century he has never reached previously.
Yiu-trained Spearhead opened the night well for Derek Leung Ka-chun - who took the Jockey Challenge with a double when he added Magnanimous for Derek Cruz later - but the gelding gave the rider some anxious moments.
'This horse is still very green and agitated even though he is four,' Yiu said. 'You see him try to dump the jockey before the race and again after. Coming back to the 1000m tonight helped him because they go so fast he doesn't pull. If he can settle down he will improve.'
Yiu's second winner, Shahjee (Alex Lai Hoi-wing) was putting things right scoring in the sixth race after his other 'win' earlier in the season at Sha Tin was taken off him due to a positive swab, the culprit for which had been his mafoo.
'I was joking with the owner that maybe we could put him in one of those races for horses which haven't won during this season - I suppose he would be eligible,' Yiu smiled. 'But he has been very consistent. I liked him from the very beginning - a good eater, good worker, a simple ride as he's always in the first three. He's only three and can definitely get better.'
While Romantic City was the sensation of the Class One sprint over 1,000m, the result went to Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained At Moment In Time, part of a late double for Howard Cheng Yue-tin, who also won the last race on Cheer.
'It was a bonus that Romantic City was basically out of the race. Even though he went riderless to the lead, Howard was able to rate my horse more easily at the front of the others,' Shum said. 'That is the season for him now. He has limitations as I think he is better at this track.'
Derek Leung was in the thick of everything, winning two plus the Jockey Challenge, but he was also back in the stewards' room in trouble after riding Bould Mover in the Class One race seven. The recently graduated jockey was penalised two days and $30,000 for careless riding and will miss the July 1 and 6 meetings.
Caspar Fownes provided his usual Valley winner with the talented three-year-old Always Well (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu) while jockey Olivier Doleuze continued his good form with Class Five winner, Golden Boy for Michael Chang Chun-wai.
Golden Boy hasn't exactly become consistent but it is difficult to argue with his win line - four victories from his last 14 starts. 'He has the ability to win in Class Four, I'm sure,' said Doleuze. 'But he's a funny animal and needs to have things the way he wants them.'