Double delight for Woods
Sean Woods' faith in the Hong Kong Jockey Club vets was rewarded with a winner yesterday, part of a double for the affable Englishmen.
Woods was set to withdraw Athenium from a Class Three Handicap (1,600m) after a scope last week revealed a bleed that either required treatment, or at the very least, some extremely careful handling.
Not only did Woods need to nurse his six-year-old to raceday, which had previously bled in a race and has now won two from 14, but Mark du Plessis, who notched his maiden win of the season and first for Woods, had to be soft on the gelding also.
'Fairplay to my vet because he recommended what we did with him and it seems to have worked,' Woods said. 'We just had him as fit as we could get him and today Mark has ridden him beautifully.'
'He needed to be very gentle with him, because if he bursts him at the top of the straight, then he doesn't get home. He brought him into the race quietly without asking him any questions, he arrived there to just have that last shot at him.'
If it was a question of ability, Athenium might be one worth following, he will remain in Class Three, but Woods isn't getting carried away and seemed to suggest the gelding was a race-by-race proposition.
'It's just health issues with him than ability and getting the right suck into the race,' he said. 'Today everything went right and he produced it beautifully.'
'I honestly didn't think he would win because I thought he was a bit fat.'
While deflecting credit to vets and the jockey for his second win, Woods put his first win of the day, with Maelstrom in a Class Four Handicap (1,200m) down to good fortune.
Maelstrom finally had everything fall his way and broke his Hong Kong maiden at start number 25.
The first stroke of luck was getting a run as stand-by starter and the second was landing in barrier one, from where Brett Doyle held the front and then dictated.
Maelstrom showed a nice kick and then again extended at the 200m pole to run away to a dominant 23/4-length victory, Doyle enjoying his third win in as many Sunday's this season.
'That's when you know you are lucky, when you're first reserve and you fall into barrier one,' Woods said.
'It was uncomplicated, from that draw we could go there and there wasn't going to be much pace, the horse relaxed and he kicked. The track does look to have a bias to on pace runners.'