No points, but Super plus takes prize
Six horses came into last night's Happy Valley meeting with a shot at winning the 1010 Million Challenge , but it was clubhouse leader Super Plus who fell into first despite not scoring a point, as Richard Gibson and Olivier Doleuze combined for a running double and stole the show.
The Peter Ng Bik-kuen-trained Super Plus was unplaced in the Hawthorn Handicap, but won the HK$650,000 first prize on count back over Mr Bond, who could only manage third earlier in the night in the Cheong Ming Handicap.
Super Plus won three races and was second twice in eligible events in the series for races in Class Three and above at the city track from the start of the season until last night, his two runner-up efforts giving him the tie-breaker over Mr Bond after they both finished on 60 points.
While the series finale fell a little flat with the 'by default' win of Super Plus, Gibson and Doleuze provided some spark with impressive victories to Winning Edge and New Glory.
Winning Edge was severely hampered by a racefall last start, and returned to winning form with a powerful finishing burst from last, Doleuze bringing him widest in the straight after going back from gate 11.
'The barrier was actually a blessing because we had to go back,' Gibson said. 'Last time we were just happy to see Olivier return safe after the horse fell in front of him, the horse just went to the line untested.'
Sprinter New Glory provided the second half of the brace, with Doleuze predicting the six-year-old might be hard to catch in the future.
'Gate three and the low weight were the difference,' he said. 'He is not an easy horse to ride. Tomorrow if you ran that race with a different draw, he might not win. You never know what you will get with him. He might find it a bit harder up in grade.'
Flying Colours still had a chance to snatch the 1010 Million in the final race of the night, but John Moore's Time After Time spoiled those plans, with the trainer talking up a return to Sha Tin for the four-year-old.
'I just don't think he handles this track that well,' he said. 'He's been running behind Glorious Days the last two times out, so we knew he would be hard to beat here, especially with 114-pounds. He has had a setback with an infection, but he is back on track and we'll step him up to 1,400m next start.'
Douglas Whyte captured the Jockey Challenge on count back from Doleuze and extended his seemingly insurmountable lead at the top of the Jockeys' Championship with his 62nd and 63rd wins for the term.
Whyte scored on Ray's Favourite, that horse's third win in Class Five this season, and on well-found favourite Ho Ho Life, which was part of a double for Dennis Yip Chor-hong.
Yip will target an 1,800m Cup race in two weeks at Happy Valley with Ho Ho Life after the 2,200m victory.
Zac Purton capped a stellar month on Francis Lui Kin-wai's Serendipity, taking the Australian to 34 wins this season.
Lui is planning a light preparation for Serendipity, with the four-year-old still looking underdeveloped.
'We thought he would grow in the off-season, but he just didn't,' Lui said. 'He has never grown up and is a bit weak, he is very skinny and very small. We've had to wait for him to mature, that's why he has only had four starts until now, so we are very grateful for the patience of the owners. But I do think he has future improvement.'
In a race with a host of horses dropping back in grade, the one stepping-up surprised when Holiday Sun scored at double-figure odds, trainer Derek Cruz praising the horse's consistency.
'He has got a good heart and the pace in the race helped him,' Cruz said.
Matthew Chadwick was suspended for three days and fined $40,000 for his ride on Penglai Xianzi in the race, while earlier Tye Angland was suspended for two meetings and fined $30,000 for his ride on Owners' Glory in the Shing Ping Handicap.