French jockey Vincent Cheminaud finished his short-term winter stint on a high with a win in the last on John Size-trained So Fast and leaves with a glowing reference from the seven-time champion trainer.
There was a bit of mutual admiration flowing, too, with Cheminaud paying Size the ultimate compliment by comparing the Australian to his boss in France, Andre Fabre.
So Fast was able to cling on under a tenacious front-running ride by Cheminaud, and Size said the 21-year-old had the type of combative nature sometimes lacking in his European colleagues.
“He has been good with the horses he has ridden for me,” Size said. “He presents like a jockey with a lot of confidence and when the gates open he isn’t shy about trying to do what I ask him to do, particularly going forward in a race. In the finish he seems pretty strong, the horses keep running for him.”
That strength in a finish was required on So Fast after the four-year-old had been softened-up in the run by Dashing Super, before withstanding a favourite Midnight Rattler late - although Size suggested the horse might have enjoyed the battle as much as the rider.
“Dashing Super coming up on his outside helped by making him concentrate and then when he dropped off the challenger came and he enjoys that too, it made him go to the line because he doesn’t mind a fight.”
Two previous short-head victories mean So Fast has crept rather than leapt into Class Two after four wins from eight starts and Size has his reservations about the impact his horse will have there.
“I’ve got no real confidence about him now going up in class because he won’t be able to get things his own way there but you never know - you drop a lot of weight and anything can happen.”
For Cheminaud, who was joined on a plane home to France last night by Gregory Benoist, who also brought his impressive two-month run to a close, it was a relief to grab a win at Sha Tin after his previous five victories had come at Happy Valley.
He also leaves with a strong association with Size, for whom he has ridden three winners. “When you ride for people like John Size it gives you a lot of confidence,” he said. “I was honoured to ride for him, he is a nice person too, with a lot of class. It reminded me of riding back home for Andre Fabre.”