Australian jockey Brett Prebble jumped on the scales after his third winner at Happy Valley last night and declared, “I feel like Joao Moreira!”
And in Moreira’s absence, Prebble had taken over the role and of front runner, his treble on Ho Ho Feel, Hang’s Decision and finally David Hall-trained Heroic Guru, sealing the night’s honours and taking him five wins clear of Zac Purton in the race for second behind the runaway Brazilian, Moreira.
Heroic Guru was a case of bringing ‘the band back together’ as Prebble teamed with Hall in Moreira’s absence on the suspended list and the gelding was heavily backed into favourite before scoring with some authority.
But the first two wins for Prebble have been long-term projects for the jockey, who has done a lot of work on them all season leading to their maiden victories.
Trainer Chris So Wai-yin said Hang’s Decision has needed plenty of that work and is still not the finished article but that this 1,200m win will not be his last success.
“In six months, I know this horse will be better,” said So. “He does a lot wrong in his races and is still learning so I’m happy he can win a race now and know he will keep improving. The win was no surprise, because he did a good job last time when he jumped up in the air and lost a lot of ground and still finished second.
“Tonight, he jumped well and Brett was able to put him closer and he finished off well. I think in time he’ll get a mile but 1,200m is enough at the moment with him making so many mistakes.”
After cracking his record losing streak on Saturday, everything was back to normal in the world of Douglas Whyte as the 13-time champion jockey produced one of the rides of the night to win for Almond Lee on Red Adventure from an outside draw.
It was win number 300 in Lee’s career and, more importantly, win eight for this season, which means he is now past halfway in the annual bid to save his trainer’s licence, but Lee said the win for Whyte meant more to him.
“I’m happy to have a winner, of course, but I’m more happy for Douglas. I am Chinese and was embarrassed by how the Hong Kong people treated Douglas,” said Lee, a reference to the catcalling and jeers that accompanied the South African rider in the pre-race parade recently.
“For someone to have been the champion Douglas has been and be treated that way? No respect. Tonight he showed his champion class – Red Adventure had a bad draw, he is not an easy horse to ride any time but he got him across and did a perfect job.”
The trophy race of the night went to Paul O’Sullivan-trained Back In Black (Karis Teetan) and the trainer later added Turf Sprint (Nash Rawiller) at long odds for a double.
“With Back In Black, everything went wrong for him last time – he hung, he pulled, it was a mess from a bad gate,” O’Sullivan said. “But I thought we could drop him back to 1,000m tonight, hope they went crazy up front and he’d be a chance to get it right and finish over them. That’s what happened. He’s very pace dependent, like so many horses here.”
In the opener, Spicy Siam (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu) turned back the clock – he hadn’t won since December 2013 – as the seven-year-old landed the 2,200m Class Five.
“He got a great ride from Vincent and had become very well handicapped,” said trainer David Ferraris. “He probably needs this 2,200m distance these days – the problem is there aren’t many of them.”