Punters spot on with Penglai Xianzi
The ATV Cup was a touch short on top-end quality and did not fail to produce some drama - but mostly before the race.
Tony Cruz's consistent sprinter-miler Penglai Xianzi was the subject of a spirited late betting move and saluted in the Class One (120-95) after the trainer of third-paced favourite Gurus Dream, Dennis Yip Chor-hong, faced some pre-race quizzing by stewards over the horse's trackwork.
Penglai Xianzi was slammed from more than 20-1, halving his quote to pay out $105 for $10, and Keith Yeung Ming-lun had things fall his way. Yeung dropped in behind a fast pace from gate three, pushed to the front at the 200m and held off fast-finishing Majestic Falcon (Tommy Berry), on his inside, and Gurus Dream (Douglas Whyte) on his outer.
"The race just worked out perfectly for me - Leading City and Hot Shot just tore along in front - I just sat in the box seat and waited," said Yeung. "Coming to the last 100m I thought my horse would stop, but when he felt those two horses coming on his inside and outside he found something again."
Penglai Xianzi has won three times this term- and nine of 44 overall - and while the six-year-old will never be a superstar, his rating will now go above 110 for the first time.
"He is a very consistent horse, but let's face it, he got lucky today," Cruz said. "The draw was good, he had someone lead them up. He was spot on today."
Early in the day, stewards issued a release stating Yip and Whyte had been questioned about Gurus Dream missing two weeks of work between mid to late April. Yip said the horse, who has a history of leg problems, had pulled up lame after trackwork on April 10. The horse then returned an elevated muscle enzyme count after which Yip decided to rest the horse. Whyte confirmed he had ridden Gurus Dream in two gallops leading into the race and indicated to Yip the work was satisfactory enough for the horse to be entered. Chief steward Kim Kelly said given Gurus Dream was a strong favourite for the race, it was decided that the information be made public, stressing Yip was found to have done nothing wrong.
Kelly added that in future, stewards would look to implement a system where they would be alerted to significant amounts of missed work, to enable them to follow-up with trainers.