Riding ban spoils Prebble's double
Top jockey Brett Prebble is out of the National Day Cup reckoning after stewards went on a careless-riding blitz at Happy Valley last night and the Australian was caught up in it.
Prebble will be back in time to ride Lucky Nine in the Sprinters Stakes in Japan on October 2 but will be disappointed to miss the first local Group races of the season after the stewards' ban for his ride on Union's Star in the last event ruled him out for September 28 and October 1.
And he was not the only victim, with Olivier Doleuze getting another two days' ban to add to the pair he collected last Sunday and he will now miss the Little Bridge ride on October 1 in the Sha Tin Sprint Trophy, while Brett Doyle was also banned for two days over his ride in race two but he will be back in time to partner Joy And Fun in the National Day Cup.
That was the dark side of the night's proceedings for Prebble but earlier he was able to guide Familists to victory in the Ireland Trophy for leading owner Siu Pak-kwan, who has sent Silver Grecian to Caulfield on Saturday with an Australian Group One in his sights. He prepared for that by taking out the Valley feature with a horse who has made good travelling in the other direction.
Siu previously raced Familists (Brett Prebble) in Australia, under the name Hus Der Lieften, where he showed early promise but was ultimately disappointing and only landed at David Hall's Sha Tin yard as the owner had an unfilled permit and the gelding was qualified. 'With 17 starts in Sydney for only a couple of wins, to be fair there wasn't a lot expected when he got here,' said trainer David Hall after Familists stretched himself to the extended Valley mile to win convincingly. 'But he's done his job here. He has never run a bad race and that's three wins and five placings from 11 runs for me.'
The victory takes Familists over triple figures in the handicap ratings and given Hall a headache with programming. 'He's going to find himself in that no man's land now - over 100 and meeting the big boys but probably going to keep finding one better - but he's so honest that you wouldn't count him out and I reckon he's earned a crack at the Ladies Purse now,' said Hall. 'My horse Vaugirard beat Mr Siu's horse, Irian, in the Ladies Purse last year, so maybe this time I can win it for him.'
Familists was one leg of a winning double for Prebble, who also landed Touch Go for Francis Lui Kin-wai in the following race, but he was pipped in the Jockey Challenge by claimer Vincent Ho Chak-yiu, who landed Nordic Star for Derek Cruz, just missed with Moon Chaser in the second last but snatched the honours with Windicator Power for Caspar Fownes in the last.
Touch Go has taken a while to win after arriving with worthwhile French juvenile form almost two years ago, but a gelding operation in January settled him down.
'Since then, he has become more relaxed, especially this season, and a more mature horse now,' Lui said. 'He was overracing before and that made his job difficult. Tonight he won at 1,000m but I don't really think it is his distance - now that he is settling he will prefer further.'
Earlier in the night, Zac Purton and Ricky Yiu Poon-fai combined for one of the easiest wins on the card with Fortune Winner, who had lost his way last season after suffering a heart irregularity first-up. 'He never found his form after that but he's had a good break, dropped in grade and I think he's better than Class Four, so I wasn't too surprised,' said Yiu.