It’s a measure of John Size’s season as he steams to an eighth trainers’ championship title that he is performing even in areas where he has traditionally not been a front runner and he underlined it at Happy Valley last night with a winning treble and even a Class Five victory.
There was once a time when three wins at Happy Valley was almost a season’s worth for Size but he managed the same tally on a single card for the first time since November 2003, when Class Five sprinter Giddy Giddy (Olivier Doleuze) broke his maiden status, Tom’s Charm (Joao Moreira) arrived four races later then Red Marvel (Keith Yeung Ming-lun) rounded things out in the last.
“I needed to win one somewhere, I haven’t had many at Sha Tin lately,” said the laconic Size after stretching his championship lead out to 13 wins.
Giddy Giddy’s win was notable for the trainer too as it was his second win in the cellar grade in a fortnight after saddling up only two Class Five successes in the previous five years.
The usually ‘squibby’ Giddy Giddy landed as expected outside the leader in the race but what was not quite as expected was how strongly he found the line after looking beaten.
“It was his third run in blinkers and he has improved each time,” Size said. “He seems to be growing in confidence since they went on him and I guess he appreciated the soft track too.”
The other star of the night was jockey Brett Prebble, who didn’t get carried away by the apparent obsession of many others with getting forward in races and he took advantage of some solid lead tempos, both expected and otherwise, to land a winning treble himself.
The run kicked off with unraced Fairy Twins for Chris So Wai-yin, continued with Victory Boys for David Hall in the next race, and wound up with honest sprinter Smart Declaration for David Ferraris.
“He’s such a genuine little horse, Smart Declaration,’ said Ferraris. “He never runs a bad race and when he gets conditions like he did tonight – a bit of cut in the ground and a fast pace – that really suits him.”
Fairy Twins wasn’t a complete surprise to So with his long-priced debut win but the trainer admitted he did not go into the race confidently and that was reflected in the 28-1 starting odds.
“I knew he had some ability and it wasn’t a strong field, but still it’s always difficult at their first start and with the rain I really didn’t know how he would handle it,” he said.
But the rain was a plus for the night’s feature race winner, Jun Huo (Douglas Whyte) and he cleared away to win the EWO Challenge Trophy and took his record to a very respectable four wins from just 11 starts for trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai.
“He is a big horse and he hits the ground quite hard,” said Lui. “As a result, he’s been doing more racing on the dirt recently and doing well and he probably appreciated the softer ground tonight as well. He has a few niggling problems but obviously he was comfortable tonight.”
Paul O’Sullivan’s very solid season continued with another very solid victory for Back In Black (Zac Purton), giving the grey his fourth success of the season – a double-edged sword though, said O’Sullivan.
“He has had a great season but he reminds me of a couple of other horses I’ve had recently, Star Majestic and Santa Fe Sun – good solid horses, they win three or four in their first season but that gets them to where they are limited by their rating and then they can only win one a season afterwards,” he said. “They’re so genuine they don’t drop down the handicap much.”