CONTROVERSIAL French rider Eric Saint-Martin broke one of the leanest runs of his Hong Kong career with a spectacular last-to-first victory aboard veteran handicapper Better Choice (12-1) yesterday. Saint-Martin, who spent three months of the season on the sidelines for a series of reckless riding charges, was without a winner for the entire month of February and had gone an astounding 64 rides without greeting the judge. For a jockey of his calibre, it was an interminably long wait. But it all fell neatly back into place for him in this Class Four, 2,000-metre affair as a fierce pace at the head of affairs set the race up perfectly for a closer. Some will remember Better Choice as the galloper that brought an end to Darren Beadman's local career when the Aussie jockey was found guilty of not trying aboard the Irish-bred in an event at the city track back in late 1993. The Bob Back gelding hasn't collected too many cheques since, but has always preferred the wider reaches of the New Territories venue. Four of his five successes have come here, but the most recent was almost two years to the day in a Classes Four and Five event off a rating of 55. He has since plummeted in the handicap to a rating of 40 and had to be conceded a live chance yesterday in what was a fairly 'thin' contest. This was the decisive leg of the Triple Trio and the final stages must have sent many hearts pounding, and even more sinking, as the complexion of the race changed remarkably in the last 100 metres. One of the market leaders, Fruitful Trip (5.8-1), led for home but was soon under pressure as Douglas Whyte and Ascot Hero (15-1) grabbed what looked a winning break half way down the straight. But, while Whyte went to work on the Tony Cruz youngster, it was Saint-Martin and Better Choice who were putting in the big strides late and wide. In the end, Better Choice scored by 1.25 lengths, while Merry Maple (10-1) surged from the back of the pack along the rails to tip Ascot Hero out of the quinella spot.