Three-timer Doleuze on the crest of a wave
There is not a more in-form jockey than Olivier Doleuze and he notched another treble to keep his hot streak going, including an impressive debut by sprinter Winfull Patrol, a horse Richard Gibson claimed might be the fastest he has ever trained.
It was the second three-timer in a row from the Frenchman after a superb mid-week effort at Happy Valley. He has now captured 11 winners in the month of May to move to 39 victories, past Brett Prebble and into fourth place in the jockeys' championship.
"I am feeling lucky. Sometimes it is like that - this is Hong Kong and it can happen in cycles," Doleuze said. "I came to the races very confident with the rides I had - especially Winfull Patrol."
Winfull Patrol's time of 55.85 seconds for 1,000m would probably be considered "wind assisted" if put up to Olympic standards, but was impressive nonetheless for a three-year-old that has been given time to grow through some leg issues.
"I can honesty say I've never trained a horse that has ran five furlongs in 55 and change. I've been training for nearly 20 years and I've never trained a horse that has gone that fast," Gibson said. "I think he is a speed machine and it's great to get another newcomer to fire."
Doleuze said Winfull Patrol would appreciate an even firmer surface, with some rain leading into the meeting adding a touch of cushion.
"He has a big future and he confirmed what we expected," Doleuze said. "The time was still good even though we had a bit of a tailwind, but he will be a much better horse next year on the firm ground. He is a very, very nice horse."
Winfull Patrol's problems were essentially growing pains - but handled with patience and care, a bone marrow issue preventing him from getting to the races until now. Shortly after arriving in August last year, a right front stress fracture set him back more than a month, while bone bruising in his left front cannon saw him withdrawn from a start in early February and miss another five weeks.
The necessary recovery time granted, a single trial since then was enough to show Gibson his "speed machine" was ready to roll.
"It was a unique problem, but basically it had to do with immaturity and luckily for me, the owner was really patient with him," Gibson said.