Australian jockey Brett Prebble screamed his pleasure to the world as Precision gave him the biggest win of his career yesterday at Sha Tin in the ING Hong Kong Champions & Chater Cup.
'Who said Hong Kong's hard?' a delighted Prebble quipped as his characteristic cockiness returned after a perfect ride landed him the first prize of $4 million and his largest winning percentage yet. 'I've won Group Ones in Australia, a few of them million-dollar races in Australian money, but this one's my biggest.'
Standing upright in the irons, whip to the blue skies as the clouds disappeared from his Hong Kong stint, Prebble screeched with delight as he went about sealing his place for one of the two vacant Club jockey positions next season.
It has been no secret the ultra-competitive Prebble has been frustrated by having ridden only two winners in Hong Kong, and the impact of Sars had also hit a little too close to home.
'My wife, Maree, went home with my son almost as soon as we got here and I don't mind saying I've really missed both of them in the past two months,' he said. 'I spoke to Maree this morning and I said to her that I was finding it tough up here by myself and that if I won this race we might have to make some decisions about next season.
'She gave me the impression that she and Thomas would come back with me if I do get a licence next season, so that will make it a lot easier mentally.'
Des O'Keefe, formerly Prebble's manager in Australia, was on hand for the rider's big moment but had feared the worst earlier in the afternoon. 'Brett had finished second 10 times coming into today and when a couple of his rides were second in races three and five, I was thinking, 'Oh, no, here we go again',' he said.
But with the right engine underneath him, Prebble was rewarded for consistent quality riding in the past two months, despite not having the right mounts much of the time, and he brought home the best of 'thank yous' for trainer David Oughton.
'David has been a great supporter so I'm happy to repay him. I just missed one big race for him with Cape Of Good Hope, so hopefully this evens things up,' Prebble said. 'He put me under no pressure at all today - he just said to watch the tapes of the horse's races and then ride him how I thought. That makes the job so much easier.'
Precision did the rest but it was only at the 800 metres that Prebble started to feel like a winner. 'He gave me no feel at all early. He just didn't feel like he wanted to race and then midway through it, Blue Stitch gave him a bump and put him three deep and he started to pick up the bit,' Prebble said.
'When we got to the 800 metres, I pulled the whip through and it was like I'd swapped horses. Precision knew exactly what his job was, gave me a great turn of foot when we turned and he had the mare [Elegant Fashion] beaten at the 200 metres.
'He loafed a little when he got to the front - he knew he'd done his job - but he was strong right to the line and stayed the 2,400 metres right out.'