Super night as flying Ng scores double
Peter Ng Bik-kuen continued his bold start to the season by climbing into the top six on the trainers' table at Happy Valley last night, but the veteran horseman was talking up his charges rather than himself.
Ng scored with Super Plus, part of a winning double for apprentice Ben So Tik-hung, before champion jockey Douglas Whyte completed a pair of his own on Flying Chaparral.
Both horses are recent acquisitions for Ng, who has taken full advantage of a bigger team than in recent seasons to bounce out running.
With a share of fifth place on the ladder and 13 winners, he has already satisfied the Jockey Club's season benchmark performance for trainers after a number of years of cutting it fine at times.
'I'm happy with how things are going,' he said after Flying Chaparral made it two wins on end, graduating to a Class Three and bringing his Sha Tin form to Happy Valley.
'He's an up and coming horse and will stay further than the 1,650m tonight.
'Even though he is a big striding horse, I brought him here for a barrier trial and he handled it well, so I was happy to bring him back here.'
It was masterly ride from Whyte, who was handed the dream running position, with barrier three on a night dominated by prominently placed horses, but took the important decision just past halfway to come away from the rail.
'I didn't want to be caught behind Many Gains over 1,650m, but Andreas Schutz's new horse on my outside began to lay out, so I came off the rail and made sure of a clear running.
'Flying Chaparral has been showing in the mornings that he's learning to settle down and be more tractable.'
While Ng had planned for him to be ridden off the hot speed, he was not happy in the run.
'I was worried when he was so far back, but when he got to the straight and got clear room, I thought he would finish off like he did,' Ng said.
Super Plus has made his name over short courses, but Ng said he felt the seven-year-old would cope with further and that was the post-race assessment of jockey Zac Purton after Groovy mended his ways to take the sixth event for trainer Dennis Yip Chor-hong.
With blinkers off last night, the gelding was cleanly out of the gates, camped behind the leaders without overracing and Purton said he was never going to lose despite the narrow margin on the line.
'He relaxed and travelled, and I always thought I would pick them up. Dennis threw out the idea of going further with him, maybe 1,400m, and I said there's no reason now that he is relaxing that he won't run that distance,' the jockey said.
Whyte also scored for John Size on three-year-old Glory Horsie, though not by any fancy margins despite short odds.
'I think that was probably better than it looked for the neck margin - I wasn't disappointed,' said the Australian trainer.
'He's a three-year-old with a big weight against more experienced horses and it was fairly tight where he had to go in the straight. He's relatively immature despite his breeding and there should be more to come.'
Earlier in the night, the King Of Class Five, Tony Millard made it clear he would not be giving that crown up easily.
The disappointing Medic Fortune with Matthew Chadwick on board finally won in the bottom grade at start number 35.
And Lucky Turbo with Australian jockey Darren Beadman on board also won his first in the opener, but might have some upside.
'He's still a colt and doesn't know much about it all, but he does have ability,' said trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing, who won his 16th race of the season and is second on the table.
Eddy Lai Wai-ming became the only statistic in the stewards' room, but must be setting some sort of a record, with his fifth careless riding charge for the season earning him a three-day ban and HK$15,000 fine.