Chadwick backs Lucky Omens to make the grade
Jockey sees potential in three-year-old on a night that sees the spoils spread far and wide
Winners were coming from all directions at Happy Valley last night, with eight different jockeys and eight trainers triumphant - but Matthew Chadwick is dreaming of a clear path to the 2014 Hong Kong Derby for promising youngster Lucky Omens.
It was only a Class Four win for Lucky Omens - and Chadwick got his share of luck.
But the jockey believes the Tony Cruz-trained three-year-old has the potential to emulate his sire Lucky Owners, who won the 2004 Derby.
"I've always said he was a nice little horse, and I'm hoping he can make it to next year's Derby.
"He has only just turned three, and he still has some growing up to do," Chadwick said after he went back from a wide gate and then navigated a fortuitous rails run late, holding off well-fancied runner Cool Bean.
Lucky Omens won on debut over 1,200m, and wasn't quite up to Class Three at his last three starts.
But a drop back to Class Four and a step up to 1,800m brought out his best.
"He needs the distance, he struggled at 1,400m and a mile those last few starts, and he needs to be ridden cold.
"I think he could have gone around them, no problem, but when I went to get out and follow Tye [Angland] on Cool Bean, I was boxed in by Victory Mascot and had to head to the fence."
Douglas Whyte maintained his three-win lead over Zac Purton at the top of the Jockeys' Championship, the rivals winning a race each.
Whyte won the opening event, a Class Five, on Viva Guy when he showed urgency out of the gates to gain a perfect three-back spot on the fence - while Purton later answered on plunge horse Intellectualstride - which was smashed from more than 30-1 into 8.4-1 late.
"It had been a testing night until then, but to get a winner back was nice," Purton said.
"Douglas is having things go his way at the moment and John Size is about to unleash some new horses - but I don't have much fresh blood."
Almond Lee's Happy Yeah Yeah made it back-to-back wins and took his career record to six from 23 when he was gifted a soft lead in the last.
"It was such a slow pace and nothing came up on my outside," said winning jockey Keith Yeung Ming-lun.
"That might have Class Three, but it was a Class Four pace."
Trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai said he was worried about the confidence of Andreas Suborics heading into last night, and thrilled to supply the Austrian with a much-needed winner when Touch Go added to his exemplary Valley record.
Suborics hadn't won for a month - his previous victory had been on Super Fresh on February 6 - and last weekend he missed a potential winner when he was indisposed because of food poisoning.
"Everything was perfect: the gate and the speed, and I was lucky to get the right run," Suborics said after Touch Go took his record over 1,000m at the city track to four wins from six starts.
Ricky Yiu Poon-fai joked that he would have "kicked the backside" of his apprentice Dicky Lui Cheuk-yin, had he not won on Impeccable.
"Dicky had been telling me every morning, 'This horse is going so well,' so I said 'OK, you can ride him then, and he better win'".
"He would have heard about it if he hadn't," Yiu said.
Invictus (Weichong Marwing) scored arguably the most dominant win of the night - trainer John Moore saying the horse's natural speed had fooled him into thinking the horse was a sprinter early in its career. "The horse has trained me, I had him wrong - but what he needed was some extra ground," he said.
In other news, Australian jockey Dwayne Dunn will ride the John Size-trained runner Endowing in next week's Hong Kong Derby.