On a night when the wide rail placement dictated that most of the winners at Happy Valley were well-drawn, local rider Vincent Ho Chak-yiu produced the best navigational effort of the night to reward trainer Caspar Fownes' rush back from Japan.

Fownes had been in Japan on Tuesday to oversee the final preparations for Gun Pit's tilt at the Champions Cup on Sunday, but was keen to get back for the Valley meeting, where he had just four runners but a chance of winning four races.

Born To Race looked the least likely, if for no other reason than drawing barrier 10 on the rail-favouring C+3 course, but Ho proved the difference.

I purposely didn't trial him because he was that well, it's only 1,000m and I didn't want him to lose any freshness
Caspar Fownes

"What a brilliant ride that was from the gate!" said a delighted Fownes, after Ho had crossed over to the rail in the early stages, held his nerve to stay on the fence and wore down the leaders on the line. "He's given that a perfect ride, considering the way the track is playing."

Fownes also landed the first with Peace Combination (Zac Purton), having his first start in Class Five and his first for the season.


"I purposely didn't trial him because he was that well, it's only 1,000m and I didn't want him to lose any freshness," Fownes explained.

He showed ability last season in Class Four, but I think he'll be a better horse this time around. In the summer, he has grown and strengthened up and I am hoping he can go on with things now."

French rider Vincent Cheminaud landed his first winner in Hong Kong when six-year-old Rocket Let Win took his second victory, 10 days short of two years after his first.

"It has been a long time between drinks for this guy but it was just one of those things," said trainer Derek Cruz, who took over the troubled gelding from his brother Tony at the start of this year.

"Gate one helped and I thought his last couple of runs had suggested he was finding some form. He's had a few different problems over the years - at the moment his back can be an issue - but tonight he was in good shape and Vincent gave him a good ride. He was patient and brought him at the right time."

Cruz had started the night sharing last place on the trainers' table with David Ferraris and Almond Lee on three victories, but the three men carved up half the program between them to all climb off the foot of the ladder.

Almond Lee did best, with Mac Row (Ben So Tik-hung) and Golden Chopsticks (Alex Lai Hoi-wing) scoring, while Cruz and Ferraris had one each.

Ferraris-trained Fantastic Feeling (Karis Teetan) was one of three winners from barrier one on the night, and even his draw alone was a welcome change of luck.

"It wasn't out of turn to get a nice barrier after having 12 at his last two runs," said Ferraris, who sees a good future for the lightly raced four-year-old.

"I think he's going to be all right. He won at 1,200m tonight but in Australia he won over 1,350m and I think later on he might get a mile. I quite like the horse and bought another one by his sire, Show A Heart, at the ready to run sales last month in Australia."

It was a night for horses to come in from the cold, too, with Redwood Baby (Keith Yeung Ming-lun) winning for the first time since April, 2014, after hugging the rail throughout the 2,200m of race six.

"He was going well early in the season and then he was lost for a couple of months," said trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing. "His last run was much better, he has experience at this distance so I expected a good run."