Young Irish star Pat Smullen put himself firmly in the Hong Kong shop window with a confident winning ride on Wishes (8-1) in the eighth event at Sha Tin yesterday.
It was the three-year-old's first win after 12 previous starts and Smullen was certainly taking no chances in the Class Five, 1,400-metre event, getting Wishes really rolling from the top of the straight and keeping right on with the job at hand.
'That's great, just what I wanted. It is a very good Christmas present and I hope that it can lead to more support for me from owners and trainers,' said the jockey.
'I had no illusions when I came to Hong Kong that it would be easy for me and, of course, I have never been a freelance rider before.
'But I am so pleased that I have now got off the mark after about three weeks. Alex [Wong Siu-tan] never gave me that many instructions but he did give me a lot of confidence about the horse.
'And he was dead right. I knew we were going to win soon after we straightened,' added Smullen, who landed his first winner with his 18th Hong Kong ride.
Wishes stretched out well late on as Smullen rode him hard for the line and scored comfortably from topweight Canadian Champ (4-1 favourite) with Chuk Way (4-1) finishing third under Alex K.S. Yu.
Trainer Wong has turned to Smullen at recent meetings and said yesterday: 'He is a good young rider and very willing.
'I can see why he has been so successful in Ireland.'