JOCKEY Philip Robinson left Hong Kong last night having finished his final season a week early.
Robinson's last ride was on Casey's Drum in the fourth event for his old friend, former international footballer Derek Currie. The Irish import finished fourth and Robinson said: 'It would have been a nice way to go with a winner for Derek but the horse still ran a good race.' The English rider added: 'There were only a few horses around for the final two days of the season and nothing of any particular importance or significance so I decided it was better to leave now.
'I spoke to David Hill and he had no problems with that. I am going back to England and will make a decision about my future a little bit later. I intend to have a holiday just at the moment. It has been quite a long season and there has been a bit of pressure here and there,' he said.
Robinson would not confirm suggestions that he might have a riding stint in Macau a little later this year.
'It has been mentioned to me and I rode briefly there before. I am very friendly with Joe Murphy, Declan's brother, but it is not something I have thought about a lot. I have other options in England but I am really looking at a long extended holiday,' he said.
Robinson had his first ride in Hong Kong back in 1979 when he rode a horse for the late George Sofronoff at Happy Valley. But he returned for a glorious five-year stint with David Oughton which saw him win the jockeys' championship twice.
His return to Hill this season was a surprise.
'It came rather out of the blue but I don't think either of us has regretted it. We had some good results and certainly got on very well. I would have liked one more year but it was not to be,' said Robinson, referring to a licensing committee decision not to license him next season despite Hill's application on his behalf.
Ultimately, it would not be a surprise to see Robinson train in England - like his late father, Peter, before him.
Hill said: 'He is good on horses in the morning and knows them inside out. I am sorry it ended like this because we did get on well together - I had no problems with Philip at all and I hope everything goes well for him in the future.' Hill will retain Patrick Payne in the new season.
Sha Tin was abuzz with Triple Trio fever last night as countless thousands tried to become multi-millionaires overnight.
More than 90 per cent of the field fell at the first hurdle with just over $200,000 out of the gross pool of $214 million left in.
The horse that did the damage was Crown Commander, trained by Lawrie Fownes which finished second.
Fownes is an ardent supporter of the Triple Trio and had a decent investment.
The popular trainer was laughing at the end of the third event and said: 'Well, I reckon that has ensured there is going to be a really healthy dividend tonight. There won't be too many have that one in - and that includes me!' He's a good sport is Lawrie.
It was a night for Patrick Biancone to remember - and not just because of his excellent winning double.
The timing of the juicy twosome was quite superb because it was the French trainer's birthday.
'A very pleasant present indeed,' said Patrick.
Sponsors Piaget did not indulge in the world's best public relations exercise last night. Having seemingly excluded some sections of the media from the traditional on-course bash, presents were given to those who did attend.
Handed out in a neat royal blue package were magnifying glasses. Hopefully, they don't really think we're half-blind.