Mark du Plessis is reluctant to attach the 'best' tag to horses, as in 'best I have ridden', but couldn't help himself when it came to Amber Sky after Ricky Yiu Poon-fai's exceptional juvenile talent gave rivals another galloping lesson yesterday.
'I hate saying this about horses - but that is the best two-year-old I have ever ridden,' the Zimbabwean-born hoop enthused after the griffin's third slick win in as many starts up the Sha Tin straight.
Amber Sky broke his older opponents hearts - and broke 56 seconds - as he jumped from restricted company into Class Three for the first time. 'Today he was like an open handicapper doing it for the 100th time,' Du Plessis said, marvelling at the son of Exceed And Excel's calm temperament.
Du Plessis fired Amber Sky straight across to the outside rail from gate four, crossing the field easily and settling into a remarkably fast, but comfortable, cruising speed.
'I thought if I could use his early speed and get to the fence, it will give him the confidence because that's where he was in his griffin races,' Du Plessis said. 'I only had to give him one slip and he was lightning, he was straight on to the bridle, and he was doing that fast past very, very easily.'
'I don't know if it would have made a difference had he not found the rail, he still would have won.'
Even though Du Plessis could have afforded to let up on the gelding late, as he strode away to score by 33/4 lengths, recalling Luke Nolen's near-disaster on Black Caviar from a day earlier kept the jockey focused.
'After watching Luke yesterday, I thought, 'well, I'm not easing up'. But I didn't want to batter the horse, I gave him three or four, because he was having a good look around.'
Yiu said his youngster 'hadn't stopped growing' since his last start seven weeks ago, but revealed his horse had suffered a setback in that time and had been given a relatively light time of it because of a cold and skin rash.
Du Plessis had a double, earlier scoring on Dennis Yip Chor-hong's Rocket And Gold, and taking his season tally to 27. The 36-year-old copped a two-meeting suspension though, combined with a HK$30,000 fine, for his effort on Fat Choy Hong Kong.
Yip said Rocket And Gold, who has won two straight Class Fives to climb above the benchmark rating of 20, had found the right jockey for him.
'They are a good partnership, because he is not an easy horse to ride in a race,' Yip said. 'He can get very keen in a race and he always needs some luck. He needs inside draws, he needs pace.'
Yiu also had a double, with Jacky Tong Chi-kit scoring on Be-Fabulous, who backed-up from his recent strong trial form.
'Jacky has been asking to ride him, as he has been riding him every morning,' Yiu said. 'He is a four-year-old that came early in the season but he was always coughing and had mucous, it took along time to get him right.'
The time Amber Sky clocked for his victory. He beats his own mark yet again