'Well-behaved' Noble Alpha scores for Prebble
Brett Prebble managed a treble, but he reckoned his hardest ride of the day was getting to the starting gates and waiting to jump on a horse he termed a 'nutcase'.
Prebble guided highly strung German import Noble Alpha to victory in a Class Two Handicap (1,400m), a horse he was confident on so long as it stood quietly prior to jump.
Noble Alpha started his Hong Kong career off the lofty mark of 88, courtesy of a solitary win in Germany from 11 starts and being placed twice as a three-year-old behind domestic champion Alianthus. But at his first start, the Michael Chang Chun-wai-trained son of Shamardal was fractious after being loaded but this time he calmed noticeably.
'I knew the horse had the ability but it was just getting around to the barriers and the horse not losing the plot,' Prebble said.
'He's a bit of a nutcase. But he was quite good today, we got the hood on without too big of a fight. He relaxed, went in and stood at the barriers quiet. Last time we had an awful fight to get him in and I'm sure his energy levels weren't what they were today when he jumped out of the barriers.'
Trainer Tony Cruz said the removal of blinkers on Prebble's second winner, Redoute Star was critical as the five-year-old put in a more settled performance to take out a Class Four over 1,800m.
Last start, Douglas Whyte found himself out in front and Redoute Star overraced at Happy Valley, this time around with blinkers off, Prebble sat up behind the speed and the horse relaxed.
'He just wanted to fight last time,' Cruz said. 'When he found himself in front last time he just didn't know what to do. The blinkers coming off made all the difference, as did barrier three.'
Prebble has made a habit of combining with resurgent trainer David Hall on promising, up-and-coming types in recent weeks and again struck gold with a first-starter Country Charm won up the 1,000m straight course.
Country Charm spent all of last season in his box as the trainer tended to a troublesome hoof issue. Yesterday the green four-year-old seemed to win despite being himself. He was slow away but towed himself into the race and won by three-quarter's of a length with something in hand.
'He's not really ready but he's got an engine,' Prebble said. 'His recent trial was workmanlike and his win was a bit workmanlike, too, but he has got a great attitude and that's going to take him a long way.'