Trainer Tony Millard put on the hat that denotes his role as a promoter of his South African homeland at Happy Valley on Thursday night after the ultimate cheap buy, Travel Comforts, wrapped up a winning double for his yard.
Millard produced Resplendent Glory earlier to give Chad Schofield a welcome return to the winner’s circle and understated speedster Travel Comforts (Dylan Mo Hin-tung) made it a pair when he scored his fourth victory over the Happy Valley 1,000m three races later.
“It’s good timing because the South African sales are coming up shortly and maybe Travel Comforts will attract a few punters,” Millard said.
“You get some great value there. This horse cost HK$120,000 and now he has won almost HK$3 million. He is so fast, sometimes you don’t realise how fast until you see him cross them from a wide draw like that and the others can’t keep up.
“It will be interesting now because he’ll stay in the class but he’ll start to get up in the weights so we’ll see. But what might help him to sneak another one is if he could draw an inside barrier.”
Millard shared the night’s leading trainer honours with Peter Ho Leung, but Neil Callan left no doubt who was the meeting’s top jockey, despite Joao Moreira returning from suspension with a winner in the second event on Agiaal for Almond Lee.
Callan had not done a great deal of riding for Ho this season until quite recently but kept his good strike rate going when he was aboard the trainer’s double – Class Five stayer Audacity and Class Four sprinter Mr Right – before he added honest six-year-old Chater Legend for David Ferraris in the final race.
“The draw is paramount with this horse, especially when there’s a doubtful pace,” said Ferraris. “But Neil’s ride made a big difference. I wasn’t happy with Vincent Ho last time, the horse fell out of the gates, it was just a poor ride. Tonight he was closer to the pace, Neil gave him a great ride and he’s strong as a lion. It’s not even a debate.”
The night’s trophy fell to the John Size-trained Arm Runda (Olivier Doleuze) in a thrilling four-way finish, taking Size to 24 Happy Valley wins for the season – easily his best tally at the quirky track – and giving the four-year-old three Valley 1,200m wins from his last four starts.
“The long straight at Sha Tin makes it hard for Arm Runda to sustain his run and he likes to have a bit of a look at things,” Size said.
“So he has found his niche here at Happy Valley and his youth and now maturity have come together lately. Olivier seems to suit him, he’s quite busy and vigorous and the horse does need a bit of coaxing.
“That short head margin tonight suggests that there isn’t a lot more to come with Arm Runda but all three of his wins have been quite narrow so we can hope.”
Also a narrow winner was the Richard Gibson-trained Amazing Feeling, who got a perfect Zac Purton ride to just edge past the leader Mr Kool (Brett Prebble) on the line after looking a certainty to win 300m out.
“I thought he’d win easily when Zac brought him out and then he had a good think about why he had been 15 starts without winning,” said Gibson, whose season’s tally crept to eight wins.
“He got a great ride and just scraped home so that’s a concern even though it’s a relief to see him finally win. Maybe now he’s won a race he can win two. One thing about him is he is very consistent, and he’ll have a light weight now in Class Three.”
Sam Clipperton was charged by stewards with careless riding for his effort on Hall Of Fame in the fifth race, but it wasn’t sustained after the Australian jockey pleaded not guilty.