Quick thinking hands So a double
An intelligent front-running ride on the Peter Ho Leung-trained Handsome Zulu was the highlight of a Ben So Tik-hung double at Happy Valley last night.
Having already won the night's feature race aboard Super Plus, So snatched the Jockey Challenge when he caught rivals napping in the New York Handicap (1,800m).
Ho had instructed So to lead, but praised the five-pound claiming apprentice's initiative after a daring, but race-winning, midrace move.
The trainer's directions were to lead and then hand-up to find the box seat. But after rating the five-year-old steadily in front, So held the front before sneaking away to grab a critical break down the back.
By the time Handsome Zulu turned for home he held a three-length plus margin and the field were off the bit and chasing. It was a big enough margin for him to fall in by a short-head from the fast-finishing Happy Guys.
'It showed he was thinking,' Ho said. 'The thing that won the race was having that break at the turn.'
Aboard Super Plus in the Fakei Cup (1,000m), So's navigation was again faultless and his claim crucial on the Peter Ng Bik-kuen-trained seven-year-old. After placing Super Plus one-out, one-back in the run, So pulled out in the straight and surged away for a one-length win.
It was the first win in more than a year for Super Plus, who had been brave despite tough runs in two efforts this season, but it was the ninth victory for the term for his resurgent trainer.
Greg Cheyne had to wait more than 60 rides for his first winner of the season last Sunday at Sha Tin, but he only had to wait three more days to notch his second, with veteran galloper Bouncer storming home to take out the Boston Handicap (1,650m).
Bouncer's trainer Caspar Fownes was thrilled for Cheyne and surprised the eight-year-old was sent out 38-1 after a last-start win at Sha Tin.
'That's just Hong Kong,' he said. 'They win a race and they think that's it. But this horse is feeling good at the moment. He's old but in good form. I think he has a couple more wins in him and then we will retire him.'
Ex-Almond Lee-trained galloper Cheerful Double came to Dennis Yip Chor-hong with hoof problems in the off-season, but last night the five-year-old broke through for his maiden Hong Kong win at start No22.
Zac Purton, who replaced suspended apprentice Alvin Ng Ka-chun in the saddle, made the most of barrier one and found the coveted box seat after hustling forward to lead early and then handing up midway through the 2,200m class 5.
'Zac is a very good jockey and he had been ringing me for the ride,' Yip said. 'I'm glad I got this horse during the summer break because it gave me time to get his problems right. He is a genuine stayer so I hope I can find another race over the distance.'
Jeff Lloyd broke a run of outs with a smart rails ride on Me Tsui Yu-sak's Yuan's Fortune, who got the bob in a photo finish with Snitzel Kid in a Class 4 Handicap.
It was Lloyd's fourth win for the season and first since Ferrabosco won at Sha Tin on October 1.
Lloyd found the back of favourite Snitzel Kid in the run, three back the fence. At the turn Tye Angland angled wide for a run and Lloyd's ground-saving move inside proved the difference and his mount dived on the line.
Lloyd and Angland both received two meeting suspensions for careless riding charges during the meeting.
The combination of trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing and jockey Darren Beadman struck for the sixth time this season when Baitiwu swooped to win the Los Angeles Handicap (1,650m).
Baitiwu's only previous win was on the All Weather Track at the end of last season, but Shum was adamant the gross gelding was 'not just a dirt tracker' but rather enjoyed a more forgiving surface.
Shum also credited Beadman with the tactical decision to ride Baitiwu 'cold'. 'He knows racing in Hong Kong so he gives me very positive suggestions and I always respect him as he is so experienced,' he said.