Olivier Doleuze landed a winner on each surface at yesterday's mixed meeting, but went home feeling like he had had a bonus one as well.
The flamboyant Frenchman was quick to find the silver lining in the cloud surrounding the demise of Sacred Kingdom and was not too shy to admit it had brightened his day considerably.
'Ever since Good Ba Ba won the Stewards Cup at a mile last weekend, I've been worrying about how he would cope with Sacred Kingdom at 1,400 metres [in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup on March 16],' Doleuze said.
'I kept looking at Sacred Kingdom's win in the Hong Kong Sprint and he looked like a machine, unbeatable. But after today, we know he is not unbeatable, he is flesh and blood, after all. And now winning the 1,400m race does not look so difficult, so I feel much better.'
Doleuze's day began with an every-chance victory for Golden Ball ($130), trained by Michael Chang Chun-wai, in the second event, a Class Four handicap over the all-weather mile (1,650m).
'Michael rang me and asked me if I could ride this horse, and I didn't think his form looked that great,' Doleuze recalled. 'But Michael said he's come down in grade and that he goes better on the dirt.
'I rode him in a gallop down the riverside on Thursday and he went quite nicely, so I was feeling more positive after that. Today, he's battled away and it was really an every-chance win, but I do think there is a little more improvement to come - he's seems to be a late-maturing horse.'
Later in the day, Doleuze completed his two-timer with a win on the heavily backed Beautiful Choice, which firmed in to start $47.50 under an avalanche of support late in betting.
'I went forward on him, as Anthony Delpech did last start, but he started to race a bit keenly,' Doleuze explained. 'This was a very light weight for me, and I had a very small saddle, and I was concerned that if I was to fight him, the saddle might shift forward, so I gave him a bit more rein and let him roll to the front.
'Once he was there, he relaxed a bit more, and I really didn't have a lot of concerns. He travelled strongly and in the straight I was never really worried.'
Favourite Happy Ambassador (Brett Prebble) charged home late to finish second, reducing the margin to11/4 lengths but making it a perfect result for favourite quinella players, with the popular 1-2 paying $51.50.
'It wasn't exactly the result we wanted, and thankfully things got better as the day went on,' Prebble said.
Chang later made it a double with Magic Chariot, who in turn was the opening leg of a Zac Purton double in race four.
Chang said that although Golden Ball's victory was a narrow one, and that Doleuze had given the gelding every chance, his hope for the future lay in the maturity factor.
'He is still learning, and being by Zabeel, he is a very slow-maturing horse,' the trainer explained. 'I think he will continue to get better with age.'
Beautiful Choice has now made it two wins on end, and continued the excellent run of success of the Me Tsui Yu-sak stable. Tsui was not at yesterday's meeting, being with the majority who had headed to Auckland for the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale, which opens today.