Brett glad to be 'Double Doyle' again
Brett Doyle had endured 118 winless rides before capturing the opening event last night at Happy Valley, but only had to wait 30 minutes to get his next victory, as he nabbed a race-to-race double and then confirmed he would depart the Hong Kong riding ranks at the start of next month.
Doyle, who hadn't ridden a winner since September, now has five winners for the term but will not re-apply for his licence to ride in Hong Kong when his current contract ends.
Just like veteran Jeff Lloyd, who has hit a purple patch of form as his likely departure from Hong Kong approaches, Doyle seemed to be riding with renewed vigour and confidence last night.
'It was just nice to win a race,' said Doyle, who is set take up a riding contract in Dubai during the World Cup carnival, where he will aim for a second straight Al Quoz Sprint (1,000m), upgraded to a Group One this year, with the Derek Cruz-trained Joy And Fun.
'It was my wife Yvonne's birthday so it was great to have some success on a special day.'
He won race one on Andy Leung Ting-wah's Shanghai Pioneer and the next on the Tony Millard-trained Lucky Record, both with well-timed, come-from-behind rides. The 39-year-old was dubbed 'Double Doyle' during his early days of riding in Hong Kong, but hadn't saluted twice on a programme since January 16 last year.
It was the first time in Class Five for Shanghai Pioneer, who Doyle positioned nicely in the run around midfield and only shouldered clear in the last 200m.
Leung thanked both Doyle and the handicapper after the win. 'I was going to call them and ask why they dropped him into Class Five, but I just entered him in this race instead,' the trainer said.
Darren Beadman made for a more than adequate fill-in for the suspended Douglas Whyte, when he combined with John Size for a double.
The stable rider for John Moore found himself available for two Size-trained mounts: Prosperity and Delta Hedge.
Beadman's veteran touch was obvious on both horses, rating Prosperity perfectly in front on his way to a strong Class Four victory and tucking Delta Hedge away three-back on the rails before weaving an untroubled passage late in a Class Three.
'He didn't have rides in a couple of races and with a few jockeys suspended, it was nice to be able to get him,' Size said.
'Prosperity just seems to enjoy rolling along like that, he was happy not being challenged. Delta Hedge put in a sound run last start and he went home and improved off that. It was pretty straightforward.'
While Prosperity benefitted from a sole lead, it was nothing like the gift bestowed by rival jockeys to Zac Purton when he strolled to a front-running victory on Happy Seven in the Ice House Handicap (1,650m).
Happy Seven's trainer, Manfred Man Ka-leung, was another thanking the handicappers after his win. 'It was a late Christmas present,' he said of both the uncontested lead and what he felt was a generous drop in ratings.
The night's feature race went to the Almond Lee-trained Happy Yeah Yeah, which got gate one and a perfect run, then ran away with the Hong Kong Challenge Cup (1,200m).
'Even though he has won over 1,000m, I think he is better over 1,200m,' Lee said. 'Eventually I think he can get a mile, but not yet.'
Halfway up the straight in the Class Three Chater Handicap (1,000m), it seemed as though Good Boy Boy would go straight past Hawthorne, but the Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained five-year-old dug deep after he had worked hard early to lead.
'He's got great gate speed but he also has some real fighting qualities,' Yiu said.
Gerald Mosse was given a two-day suspension for his ride on Danewin Winning in the same race, before he booted home Mr Bond for trainer Peter Ho Leung in the last.