Richard Gibson enjoyed a fine first season and has got the new term off to a sterling start and Rio Willie won't be far off a win after a nice third to I Smell Money in the Class Three Magpie Handicap over the Sha Tin mile.
The Australian-bred arrived as a Derby prospect off a mark of 88 for two wins (1,600m) and (2,200m) and a third (2,400m) under Frankie Maynard, but failed to live up to his promise in his first Hong Kong campaign.
In eight starts on both surfaces and courses, he only achieved a 11/4-length sixth behind Crown Witness over an all-weather track mile and treble of sevenths.
With a mark of 76 to start off the new preparation and with a positive grass trial effort earlier this month, the five-year-old opened at a near 7-1 fourth pick in the betting.
He was restrained back to last soon after the break under the guidance of Olivier Doleuze from gate five, rushed forward under some urging to settle midfield and along the fence at the 1,200m, shifted into the clear approaching the and closed the margin with each stride to finish two lengths off the winner I Smell Money.
Rio Willie looks to have returned from the summer recess in good spirits and looks one that punters can keep a safe eye on both surfaces and courses.
The gelding is a son of unknown in these parts Danish Harmony, a well-bred son of Danehill. His father is mated to Protos mare Rio Rose, who was a sprint winning half-sister to Leon - a Listed winner up to 1,800m in Malaysia.