Fay Fay rises through the ranks in style
The John Size-trained Fay Fay continued his inexorable march to the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby, with a different set of tactics bringing back that sparkling finish which had been missing recently.
Although successful as favourite in his last two starts since stepping up to 1,600m, slow tempos and the need to ride the four-year-old closer to the speed had seen him more dour at the finish than he had been in winning ridden cold out of gate 14 in October first-up.
With another extreme outside draw - Fay Fay became the fourth winner on the day to launch from the 14 gate - and having to be ridden more quietly, the gelding powered past his rivals to set up a much more convincing margin.
'He's certainly not as comfortable when he has to be ridden closer, and it took him a long time to get the better of Dragon Fighter his last two wins off slow tempos,' said Size. 'But he had the tempo today that allowed him to be ridden back from the draw and let his strength show out.'
One of three wins on the day for champion jockey Douglas Whyte, two of them for Size, Fay Fay was far more impressive putting away Dragon Fighter (fourth) by a bigger margin, despite meeting him much the worse for the weights.
'I'm sure he appreciates better being given a chance early and a more even speed is the key to that,' said Whyte.
'We were obliged to ride him closer those last two runs but you saw the real Fay Fay today and he has this long, strong dash. He feels like he is getting stronger the longer the race goes on and I'm sure there is no doubt whatsoever that he is going to stay further than a mile.'
Size said the Group One Classic Mile will be Fay Fay's next assignment, where he would meet a tougher challenge.
'We just saw Captain Sweet and Admiration go around in the Group Three race off ratings of 115, so winning off 99 here he still has a bit of catching up to do with them. But he's earned his place in that race,' he said.
Whyte also won for Size on Gamekeepers, who was making his Sha Tin debut after an early diet of Happy Valley racing and took his record to three wins from four starts.
'He's a little pro,' said Size. 'The first day he ran, it was a bit wet and that's the only day he has disappointed and I forgave him that because he had trialled a bit disappointing on a track with some give in it too. But, on the firm ground, he shows speed, he settles, he kicks. He's done everything right.'
The winning pair maintained Size's six-win lead over Tony Cruz - who had a double - on the trainers' table, while Whyte's three-timer has taken him out to a 21-win advantage over Matthew Chadwick in the jockeys' championship.