Reprieved Wong repays Club's faith
Local jockey Terry Wong Chi-wai had to plead for his licence at the end of last season but he was the toast of Happy Valley last night as he landed his first winning double in over three years and stole the Jockey Challenge.
With just one winner, a running and handling suspension and constant visits to the stewards room, Wong had looked only an outside chance to still be riding in 2011-12, but the Licensing Committee looked kindly on his show cause plea.
Last night, Wong repaid that faith, taking full advantage to win on Lucky Tycoon for Andreas Schutz in the fourth, Jun Hua for David Hall and sealing the night's riding honours with third on Yue Lu Treasure in the sixth to be the 'clubhouse leader'.
Darren Beadman had a quickfire double for John Moore on Master Gunner and Time After Time but failed to spoil Wong's party when Iron Eagle missed a place.
Wong became the first rider listed under 'any other jockey' to win the Challenge since Weichong Marwing in November 2009 and, remarkably, snapped a 192-ride losing streak on Lucky Tycoon - the horse which had been his only win last season, exactly 12 months to the day.
His winner before that had been Speedy Tycoon for the same owner in June 2010; his most recent double was at Sha Tin in June 2008.
'I can't take much of the credit, give it all to Terry,' said Hall. '[Jun Hua] has raced all right fresh before and was consistent last season without winning. Terry gave him a great ride tonight and got the prize and good luck to him.'
Beadman was aboard for the win of the night, with promising Time After Time looking far more grown-up than last season and swamping the leaders to win the Lions Clubs International President Cup, 1,200m.
'He was quite keen last season but he's improved and the key tonight was the good early pace: I was able to just come out of the gates and get over from the draw without having to dig him and he relaxed,' Beadman said. 'The way he let down with 133 pounds, you'd have thought he had 120, and he has more wins ahead.'
Moore's other winner, Master Gunner, has spent his career in limbo said the trainer, wanting the kinder Happy Valley surface but without a distance to suit.
'He doesn't get the 1,650m that strongly even though he has won at it and 1,200m is on the short side - if they had 1,400m here he'd have a better record but they don't,' Moore said. 'He normally wins one a season and tonight was the night.'
Brett Prebble's supporters at the very short odds got burned in the Challenge, with the Australian converting only one of his mounts, Snitzel Kid for Caspar Fownes. 'He's a stronger horse than as a three-year-old,' said Fownes.
Stewards had a busy night, suspending Douglas Whyte for two days for his ride in the seventh on Happy Yeah Yeah and Alex Lai Hoi-wing for two days for Invincible Heart in the first. Trainer Tony Millard was quizzed after the scratching of two of his proposed runners, Gold Joint and Supreme Fay Fay, with elevated muscle enzyme readings. Millard had been made aware of the results of routine blood tests on Tuesday and stated his intention for both to run, but when a follow-up blood test on Wednesday revealed the enzyme levels they were withdrawn. He was reminded of his obligation to report any condition which 'may impact on the suitability of horses to race.'