Gibson shows he has midas touch
Trainer Richard Gibson continued his exceptional first term in Hong Kong with a double as Brett Prebble and Vincent Ho Chak-yiu shared the riding honours with some dynamic displays of their own last night.
Gibson arrived at the city track optimistic and left with wins to New Glory and Easy Gold, who was the subject of a massive betting move.
Easy Gold is typical of Gibson's remarkable rookie year, having arrived in the Englishman's yard with six career starts where he was never sent out at better than 40-1 and ran accordingly.
Starting the season on what now seems a generous rating of 23, the horse has since won four from five.
Last night the five-year-old was slammed from double-figure odds in the final minute to jump 3.6-1 favourite in a Class Four contest over 1,650 metres.
Tim Clark showed the obvious stable confidence by going straight back from gate 12, pulling widest in the straight and blowing rivals away with an easy 13/4-length victory.
'Credit to this horse and credit to Tim Clark,' said Gibson, who indicated the horse would now be stepped up in distance as he reached his true mark in the ratings.
New Glory gunned down Lucky Turbo in the final stride under an inspired ride by Olivier Doleuze in the Fu Cheong Handicap (1,200m) to give the trainer his eighth win of the season.
'That was supposed to happen last time out but he missed the start,' Gibson said. 'I thought that win really confirmed his credibility.'
It was the case of a master and an apprentice in the Jockey Challenge as Prebble and Ho tied on 28 points, both earning rave reviews for their wins from grateful trainers.
Prebble's effort on the Almond Lee-trained Sabina stood out in a Class Five event, as he pinched the race with a beautifully timed mid-race move.
With the speed slowed to a dawdle in the middle stages of the 2,200m race, Prebble whipped around the field without extending the horse and cruised away for an easy win.
'That was a lucky win,' Lee said. 'Firstly we were lucky to get a run after we were on the reserve list and we were lucky to get Brett, who rode perfectly.'
Prebble's other win was for Frances Lui Kin-wai on Touch Go, where the Australian avoided trouble in a rough-run race that cost riders Alex Lai Hoi-wing and Matthew Chadwick two-meeting suspensions. Chadwick was also fined HK$40,000.
'He was the difference, he needed to find cover and did,' Lui said of Prebble's effort, which kept his slim premierships hopes alive by taking him to 19 wins, within 15 of runaway rival Douglas Whyte, who was winless on the night.
Ho's double was for his master Caspar Fownes (Gracytom) and Derek Cruz (Holiday Sun), with both trainers talking up the five-pound claimer's growing confidence.
'He is a nice kid, with good hands who listens,' Cruz said, while Fownes said the ride on Gracytom was one typical of a more senior rider.
'I thought he rode him strong,' Fownes said. 'He works hard and that was a really good ride, where he showed a lot of maturity.'
Meanwhile, a change in riding tactics and gear removal has coincided with two wins from three starts for the Andreas Schutz-trained Suisse D'Or, who scored in the Pak Tin Handicap (1,800m).
With Chadwick up from barrier three, the gelding was sure to be ridden aggressively and was pestered in front early, adding credit to the Class Four win. 'I've always had a lot of faith in the horse,' Schutz said. 'Since we rode him forward he has shown his best ... he seems to like a bit of give in the ground, which is why he likes the all-weather track and Happy Valley.'
Andy Leung Ting-wah was revelling in a 'change of luck' when Make It halted a long run of outs by winning race four. Leung hadn't won a race since the third meeting of the season and had endured a frustrating run of seconds.