Clark is Emperor for the night
Tim Clark continued to bounce back from a mid-season dry spell as he drove home a double at Happy Valley last night, boosting his confidence ahead of his first ride in the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby on Sunday.
The Australian partners the John Moore-trained Smart Giant in the Group One, who the lightweight hoop believes is a chance of causing an upset on his best form.
'I think I'm on a live chance in the Derby and it's great to get some confidence heading into the big race,' Clark said.
Clark started with his first Hong Kong season with a flurry and even scored a Group Two win on John Moore's Destined For Glory in the Jockey Club Mile, but the start of 2012 brought about a fruitless few months.
After snapping a 65-ride winless run last Wednesday, he showed his momentum had turned with the double, which started with the Caspar Fownes-trained Ride On The Fire's narrow victory in the opening event.
Ride On The Fire somehow repelled the challenges of Secret Of Winning and Gold Edition as they closed late, with the margins a nose by a nose in a near-triple dead heat.
'We looked good at the 75m, and then he started to walk,' said Fownes, who said he would now look to claim, with the horse to climb to the top of Class Four.
Clark, who now has 14 winners for the term, showed he had learnt a thing or two about riding the Valley on Emperor Claudius, with a perfectly judged ride from gate two on the 'C' course.
After finding the box seat behind stablemate Adoration, Clark patiently stuck to the fence and got the rails run.
'Like most winners, he had thing go his way,' said Size.
'That's just where this horse is at, he just needs a few things to go his way and he got that tonight with the barrier and the run he got in the race.'
Jeff Lloyd also rode a double and clinched the Jockey Challenge on countback, with he and Clark tied on 24 points.
Lloyd won on Top Dragon for Me Tsui Yu-sak, before getting John Moore's Charles The Great Home in the last despite nothing going right in the run.
'He kept getting cluttered back,' Moore said.
'I thought it was going to be the worst ride ever, but he has come from last and won. This horse might just be a course specialist.'
Lloyd said the fact Charles The Great had won despite the troubled passage, spoke volumes of his ability.
'The horse has done a great job to come here for the first time and win,' he said.
'He's done a lot wrong and still won.'
Peter Ho Leung trained a double, Classa (Alex Lai Hoi-wing) winning his second Class Five of the season and Shiny Day (Ben So Tik-hung) the subject of a late betting move.
Shiny Day was backed from as much as 16-1 into 7-1 late before jumping from gate 12 and leading all the way.
'Classa did get a bit lucky tonight, but he is better than that grade, and Shiny Day beat home Real Specialist last start.
'So that form was pretty good,' Ho said.
'Shiny Day is a hard horse to get past when he gets an uncontested lead like that.'
Tony Millard's Genuine Leader broke through for his maiden local win under an aggressive ride from Neil Callan.
'He should have won last time, he was unlucky,' Millard said.
'It wasn't a strong field tonight, but it was a nice win.'
Douglas Whyte had a quiet night by his recent standards, but still managed to guide Peter Ng Bik-kuen's Lucky Warrior to a tough, all-the-way win.
Meanwhile, Zac Purton was handed a two-meeting suspension for a careless riding charge on Surfer Boy in the Kolkata Handicap.