Ivan Allan, the retired training maestro, has returned to Hong Kong as an owner and yesterday landed his first winner in that new role with the John Size-trained Maribeau ($92) in the Diamond Hill Handicap.
However, Allan was quick to point out that it was not his first local winner as an owner, that honour belonging to Colonial Chief who took out the Invitation Cup in 1989 when Allan trained him in Singapore.
Since handing in his licence at the end of the 2003-04 season and creating a vacancy that was gratefully snapped up by David Hall, Allan has split his time between Hong Kong and Singapore but qualifies as an SAR resident under Jockey Club ownership rules.
'I am absolutely delighted to win this race today and my warmest congratulations to John Size and Douglas Whyte,' Allan said by telephone from Moscow, where he was en route to London where he will attend the Royal meeting at Ascot.
'Owning a horse again and having my colours represented in Hong Kong was one of my ambitions when I finished training, so today is a special day.
'John is the complete trainer and I never have to worry about anything, there is nothing I can tell John Size,' Allan said.
'So this enables me to enjoy my role as an owner, knowing the horse's best interests will always be looked after. It's also great to have Douglas winning for me today because we had many great times together, winning so many feature races during his time as my stable jockey.'
Whyte said the big price indicated the betting market had shown disrespect to Size, who was bringing Maribeau back from 1,600 to 1,400 metres.
'At the mile last start, he travelled too keenly and wouldn't come back underneath me,' Whyte said.
'Today, he looked further improved before the race and always travelled well for me. They ran along in the early stages but when I asked him for a big more at the top of the straight, he put three lengths on them easily.'
The race had some early controversy when Eric Saint-Martin expressed concern about the action of favourite High Point ($41) on the way to the start.
Although the veterinary officer declared the horse fit to run, Saint-Martin ultimately refused to ride the horse, forcing the stewards to withdraw the gelding. High Point must now prove his soundness in a barrier trial and then undergo an official veterinary examination.