Danny Shum Chap-shing was happy to train 50 winners in a season for the first time after Casa Master won the opening race at Happy Valley last night, but conceded the trainers’ championship to John Size when the runaway leader hit back in the next race.
Casa Master gave Shum his half-century in what has already been a career-best season and it brought him within 14 wins of Size with the best part of seven meetings remaining.
Shum’s title hopes were slim, at best, anyway, but when Size’s European import Wisky won race two the lead was back to 15 and the Australian’s eighth championship seemed even more secure.
“Forget about it, it’s over,” Shum said.
“I’ve had a good season though and happy to have a career best. My staff have been great.”
Not surprisingly, Wisky’s win coincided with a step up in trip to the extended mile, a positive ride from Vincent Ho Chak-yiu getting the four-year-old into a box seat run from a wide gate, helping
immensely on a horse punters had abandoned after five unplaced runs.
“The horse was giving the impression that 1,200m was too short for him,” Size said following Wisky’s win at 25-1.
“Matthew Chadwick jumped off last start and said that he was ready for a step up in trip, so we tried it.
“Vincent was good, I asked him to bounce him out if he could and be close, and that’s what he did.”
Casa Master’s win wouldn’t have been possible without Zac Purton’s heady ride, where he whipped around the field down the back and stole a soft win, and the Australian was also at his best on Caspar Fownes-trained Apache Spirit, daringly pushing through a narrow gap in the
Fownes, along with Ho, brought up doubles when Sichuan Dar swooped in the last, the Australian import breaking through at his ninth local start.
With Joao Moreira suspended, Douglas Whyte got one back when he replaced the championship leader on Secret Agent and produced a pearler of a ride on the Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained sprinter from gate 10.
“I think the key on him is being positive from the start,” Whyte said. “He is the sort of horse that can lose interest if he gets too far back.”
Classic Emeperor was smacked in betting and duly saluted under an assured ride from Ben So Tik-hung.
Trainer Chris So Wai-yin admitted that he had been left slightly confused by his four-year-old’s mid-season flat spot.
“He won over a mile early in the season in a way that we thought he had some ability,” So said.
“I’m not sure why it took until now to win with him. We did change his distances around, and play around with his head gear, but in the end maybe just continuing to be positive on him was the difference.”
Tony Millard wasn’t on course to see a stable double, Five Up High (Matthew Chadwick)
another that was heavily backed and Hit The Bid becoming Kei Chiong Ka-kei’s seventh win for the trainer this season.
Chiong’s 32nd victory of the term gave her a two-win break in the race for the Tony Cruz Award for leading local rider, with second-placed Keith Yeung Ming-lun winless on the night.