Arrived Ahead's return shows he's all heart
His second local win was anticipated rather less enthusiastically than his first, but Arrived Ahead lived up to his name in returning from a heart irregularity and reasserted himself as a horse going places.
A juvenile dead-heat winner in Ireland in June last year, Arrived Ahead (Ben So Tik-hung) was quickly hustled off to Peter Ho Leung's yard afterwards and made a record-breaking and stunning debut at Happy Valley last December.
Still a two-year-old, he commenced his career at the top of Class Four due to a weight-for-age allowance, but made light of a good weight against older opposition to thrash Fionn's Dragon after being backed from long odds in to 4-1.
That win, the first here by a European two-year-old, stamped Arrived Ahead as highly-promising but that was thrown into disarray when he pulled up last with a heart irregularity at his next run in March.
'You could see from the first time at Happy Valley when he broke all the records that he was a very nice horse,' said Ho (pictured), who landed a double. 'When he had the problem last time, I just asked the owner to give the horse some time and it would all work out. I'm lucky because he is a patient owner and he was fine with that.'
Returning as a gelding, Arrived Ahead (27-1) wasn't accompanied by any betting plunge this time, with a good weight, some decent talent arrayed against him and a draw on the wrong side of the straight track.
None of it matter and, after racing next to the odds-on favourite Supreme Jewellery for much of the race, Arrived Ahead waved him goodbye and put his rivals to the sword in the final 150m despite Ho believing him short on fitness, and the trainer said the win came from the same place as his problem last time.
'After the heart irregularity, I didn't want to push the horse to have him wound up,' Ho explained. 'I just brought him here to let him do it himself. I think he was only 70 per cent fit but he did it all on heart. I am happy to say that he will win again.'
The win softened the blow for Ho after he was fined HK$20,000 by stewards after the forced withdrawal of Easy Ahead, raced in the same ownership, after that gelding had been inadvertently treated for ulcers on Friday morning.
Earlier in the afternoon, punters did not forget to back Ho's first winner, the lightly raced Shiny Day (Howard Cheng Yue-tin).
The staying-bred gelding has been well-supported more than once, but got under a few guards when he let throughout at his first run this season at 16-1 over 1,400m. Third-up at the same trip, he trimmed from 9-1 to less than 5-1 before the scratching at the gates of well-fancied Dispatcher saw his odds drop to 4.4, and the money was right on target.
'The horse is still improving, too,' said Ho. 'I think many people expected him to lead as he led when he won before, but he showed that he can take the front or take a sit.'