Title-chasing Yip's heart is racing like never before
Trainers' championship leader goes in to the Happy Valley finale two ahead of Cruz and says 'my heart is going boom, boom, boom'
When Brian Kan Ping-chee won the trainers' championship 12 years ago, his young assistant at the time, Dennis Yip Chor-hong recalls that it wasn't as nerve wracking as his own spirited, but incredibly tense, charge for a maiden title.
A double from Yip took him to 69 wins, two clear of Tony Cruz - who had a solitary upset winner to stay in the hunt - and a full four wins clear of seven-time champion John Size, who needs something special at Wednesday's nine-race season finale at Happy Valley. Kan was the last local trainer to win the crown and there is a parallel to Yip's effort - as it was Tony Cruz who Kan held off, but in a much more relaxed manner. Kan clinched the last of his seven titles by a comfortable margin of 16 wins - nothing like the nail-biting climax the trainers' championship will reach at what will be a blockbuster meeting on Wednesday - where Yip can be assured of another stress test.
"My heart is going boom, boom, boom," a still shaking Yip exclaimed after impressive three-year-old All You Wish won the last, adding to the earlier Class Five victory of Jack's Gem. "My boss [Kan] won it easy - not like me."
Yip is certainly pulling out all stops to take the title - he threw 24 entries at yesterday's card and 19 at the season finale - for which he looks like having six runners.
"Let's see the draws, we need some luck - I'll be trying. But I'll be taking it step-by-step too," Yip said.
Jack's Gem was the second stable transfer to win first-up for Yip in the space of three days after former Size-trained import Cheers Joy stormed to a crucial victory at the Valley during the week. Tye Angland got all the breaks on the four-year-old, which had taken 10 starts for David Hall to drop to 35, but had showed some signs of life two starts back.
Cruz will also have six runners at the Valley as he guns for a third title to go with the 1999-00 and 2004-05 championships. Of course, Cruz seemed across the line for a third championship when he led John Moore by the same margin of two wins leading into the final meeting of the 2010-11 season, only for Moore to produce a four timer and gun him down. On Wednesday, Cruz will be looking to do something similar and run down Yip with a strong group including Bullish Friend, Bullish Boy and Circuit Star.
"Never-say-die, that's my saying," said Cruz, who still holds the crucial tie-breaker advantage of most seconds for the season if scores are level. "I have faith in my horse, and I'll keep pushing - I have six horses at Happy Valley and I still think I can win it."
If Cruz does clinch the crown, he said he would look back at the form turnaround and 41-1 victory of Beauty Journey as key. Beauty Journey was ninth of 14 on debut behind 157-1 winner Alpha Grand last Monday, but when a mid-race downpour softened conditions before the Big Profit Handicap, it turned things in the horse's favour.
"It was definitely a big improvement on his run last week. I thought he could run in the first three and that was before the storm came along," Cruz said. "When the rain came I knew the horse would love the wet."