Ferraris savours Sweet success
When David Ferraris greeted Weichong Marwing on Sweet Orange as the final winner of the 2010-11 season last July after the Hong Kong Racehorse Owners Association Cup, he was looking to the colt as the silver lining on a black cloud of a season.
So there was a sense of deja vu as the South African trainer welcomed in the same horse and rider after an upset in the Mercedes-Benz Classic Mile fostered hopes that Sweet Orange could rescue this season, too, after the yard claimed its first Sha Tin turf win of the term and its sixth win in all.
'You can get so despondent here at times - I really needed this,' said a relieved Ferraris after a nail-biting finish to the first of the Group One four-year-old classics.
'The horses have not been running badly but have just not quite been getting there. I've had 17 seconds and probably half of them were nose finishes - if a few of them had won I'd been thinking things were going well, but it's hard to explain that to owners.
'And the stampede of horses from your yard in Hong Kong when things aren't going as well as everyone would like, well, it makes the wildebeests charging across the Serengetti look tame. I've never seen a place like Hong Kong where a single win like this can just lift you up, so I hope this is the turning point.'
Since the start of this season, Sweet Orange had been dogged by bad luck at the barrier draw, so there was a certain irony in his having drawn inside this time and still had to 'do it ugly' to outrun favourite Fay Fay by a neck after sitting posted wide without cover.
'I couldn't believe it. In the run, I just put my head in my hands and couldn't believe it was happening,' Ferraris said.
'He didn't get any favours, that's for sure, and he is definitely headed on to the Classic Cup and the Derby now.'
Last July, the win was the final ride of Marwing's club jockey contract and he did not return for this season, but Ferraris turned to him to change the luck: 'He's the only one to have won on him and I knew he liked him, and I have known Weichong since he was an apprentice so he looked the right jockey to call on.'
'When I won on the horse last year, he won like a good horse. He was a bit weak and needed to strengthen up, but he has had the time now and done that,' said Marwing, who had won the Classic Mile 10 years ago on Olympic Express before claiming the Derby on him.
'Sweet Orange doesn't look to have had a lot of luck in races and even today he has had to do it the hard way. From gate three, to be three wide wasn't pretty, but it was a stop-start race with horses going, then pulling up and that was how it panned out.
'But he dug deep, he's beaten a nice horse in Fay Fay and all of John Moore's horses - and they look to be leading Derby horses. I'm sure he'll run 1,800m well, and though I have a few reservations about 2,000m, horses can make people's opinions look foolish.'
Fay Fay (Douglas Whyte) tracked the winner all the way but simply couldn't outrun him in the dash down the straight.
'A great effort in defeat, you can't walk away disappointed,' Whyte said. 'The pace was really muddled. I got on the back of the right horse, but they turned it into a sprint and he's a bit more dour than that.'