The beer garden and fine wine stands were deserted, the fans were crammed under cover at Happy Valley's French Day fixture, but jockey Gerald Mosse answered the call of the tricolor in the mud and rain to land a double and an overdue breakthrough for Caspar Fownes-trained Best Show.
"It's the French night - of course I have to do something," grinned a muddy Mosse after he guided Best Show from gate 10 to find his way up the rail to claim the last gasp win in the France Galop Cup over 1,800m. "From the draw there was nothing to do but go back, hope for luck, but he gave me a nice kick."
Best Show was imported as a Derby hope after impressive black type wins in New Zealand and carried a big opinion from his former trainer, Murray Baker, but the four-year-old has taken his time acclimatising and Fownes is sure there is more to come.
"It's great for Gerald to get a double tonight and I'm pleased just to get a photo go my way - I've had three or four close ones and run second every time the last couple of meetings," said a jubilant Fownes after the verdict came down his way. "Best Show is a story that you often get in Hong Kong - sometimes it takes them a year to get acclimatised and ready to show you what they really can do. He hasn't been running badly, he's been thereabouts but it was a case of getting him to win one. I ran him at 2,200m last time, he ran well enough, but I knew he was really hard fit, so I just kept him a bit fresh since then and the horse seemed to appreciate it. There should be improvement in him for next season."
Mosse had earlier scored for trainer Me Tsui Yu-sak on infrequent winner Just Good, making the most of barrier one on the six-year-old to be much closer than usual.
"He came out slowly again, as he usually does," said Tsui. "But he was lucky to get through into the position he did, and Gerald can take a lot of credit."
David Hall-trained Bundle Of Joy (Brett Prebble) took the other cup race, Le French May Trophy, for owner Colin Lo Chor-cheong and his wife, who are having a great season with their other horse, Bundle Of Love, too.
Prebble ended up in the lead with the three-year-old through circumstances in the race, but Hall is looking forward to a race plan for the gelding, which allows him to relax and sit off the speed.
"In his three runs it hasn't happened for one reason or another that he got the perfect trip - he was slow away at his first run, then drew wide last time and tonight it was circumstances, too," said Hall. "But it's a good sign that he's winning anyway. There's probably another run in him - he settled quickly into Hong Kong and he's tough."
Keith Yeung Ming-lun bounced back from the illness that saw him stood down on Sunday. The young jockey cleared a medical check to enable him to ride and he claimed a double with Po Ching King for Tony Cruz and Noble De Best for Manfred Man Ka-leung, and that also secured him Jockey Challenge honours.
And Australian rider Tommy Berry added a first Valley winner to his Sha Tin victory on Military Attack, opening his account for Peter Ng Bik-kuen with Good Looking Watch. "I gave him his first ride here - he's a good boy and a good rider," said Ng.
Vincent Ho Chak-yiu won the opener on Medic Champion, but stewards handed him a two-day ban and HK$25,000 fine for careless riding in the last event.