Prince's narrow win brings up personal-best mark for Millard
Tony Millard achieved a new personal best when Douglas Whyte threw Fujian Prince to the line to steal the San Domenico Handicap from outsider Charming Speedy, with the South African trainer claiming win number 31 for the season.
Millard, a champion trainer in his homeland before gaining a Hong Kong licence in 1999, has twice trained 30 winners in a term and allowed himself a moment's satisfaction at surpassing his previous best figure.
Fujian Prince, who started favourite at $42.50, also brought Millard within sight of his first double century, with the handler having now prepared 192 winners here.
'This is quite a nice horse and I think he's going to keep getting better,' Millard predicted. 'These Desert King's are real stayers and the way Fujian Prince races, I'm sure he's going to get a lot further than the mile.'
Whyte concurred. 'It was quite a good win because he really stuck his neck out and kept trying,' Whyte said.
'He was definitely better suited on the bigger track today, compared to last start at Happy Valley. I'm not saying he can't win at Happy Valley but he definitely settles better on the bigger stretches here at Sha Tin.'
The late-season rally by trainer David Ferraris continued at Sha Tin yesterday with lightly raced four-year-old Posa (Chris Munce) finding his level in class five.
Feeding problems were at the heart of Ferraris' bleak mid-season period, but the South African has now led in five winners in the past month.
'It's taken Posa a while but he was fit, kept grinding and probably the story of the race was that he handled the conditions better than most,' said Munce, who took his own season tally to 44 wins and fourth place on the ladder despite missing 15 meetings due to suspensions and injury.
'It wasn't much of a race, even for a class five, but he's got his win for the season.'
The Jockey Club had to take some comfort in the excellent performance of Sha Tin racecourse itself yesterday after rainstorms throughout the morning left them with little to cheer about regarding betting and crowd figures.
Turnover was down by almost $70 million on the Champions & Chater fixture last year and the crowd down significantly.
'The rainstorms were so strong on Hong Kong Island that we were getting calls all morning to see if we were racing,' said executive director of racing, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges. 'Probably at the same time, people were looking out of their windows and deciding it wasn't a good day to bet either.' But the racecourse performed well, with the surface a very fair and decent one considering the time of year and the soaking it got.
A visor and jockey Simon Yim Hin-keung managed to conjure the best from Alex Wong Yu-on-trained Conqueror to win the second event yesterday.
The lightly raced Conqueror had shown ability in his four prior starts but Wong was having difficulty getting him to concentrate, first trying blinkers then side winkers.
'With the visor today, he was much sharper,' said Wong.