Yiu and owners set for a Jolly good time
Trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai hasn't had much luck with only three victories and 19 placings from his 80 starters this season, but Jolly Fine looks a winner waiting to happen after a solid runner-up performance in the Class Three Magpie Handicap (1,600m) on Sunday at Sha Tin.
Jolly Fine showed good progress in three outings last season after arriving from New Zealand off a mark of 66. He debuted out in May with an encouraging seventh behind the previously unbeaten Gift Is Gift over 1,200m, before stepping up to the mile in his next two starts in June to finish fourth behind Just Fantastic on the all-weather track and third behind Supreme Knight.
He has been enjoying the summer break and had caught the eye in a number of exercises and went nicely in his only lead-up trial last month.
In a spirited betting race, the five-year-old was backed to 5-1 as the second pick behind Supreme Winner. Eddie Lai Wai-ming had him on the bridle in fifth at the 1,200m after getting crowded at the break by Takeanotherchance and Public Figure, eased into the clear four deep with I Smell Money to his outside rounding the final bend, swept to the lead from Fun Heroes at the 200m, narrowly shook off a stubborn I Smell Money and was overhauled inside the final 50m by a neck from the battle-hardened last-start winner Athenium.
A seasoned performer in New Zealand as Sweet Diamond for Ken and Bev Kelso, Jolly Fine filled the frame in five of six runs at Matamata, Te Rapa and Pukekohe up to 1,400m, finishing behind the likes of Gurus Dream and Flying Chaparral on separate occasions, before scoring over the mile at Pukekohe last December with blinkers.
He is out of a female line with some useful black-type form in the Southern Hemisphere. His dam, the Stark South mare Marasie, was a triple winner over 1,600m and three-times placed at Listed level, while his second dam, Avon Angel, was among the top-rated three-year-old fillies of her generation - collecting 10 wins up to 1,500m.
His sire, the QTC Stradbroke Handicap (G1, 1400m) winner Thorn Park has created a good impression in Hong Kong with six winners from eight starters, including the boom youngster Gift Is Gift, Flying In, Bolero, Share Of Gold, Lunar Reflections and Mochi.
Jolly Fine has acclimatised to his new surroundings and will be at his best on a fast ground over a mile to 1,800m. He looks a good money spinner for his owner Kenny Cheng Tsin-ki, who also campaigns Jolly Good in the Sean Woods camp.