Treble marks pedigree start to Swinburn's Year of the Dog
WALTER Swinburn took riding honours with a superb treble at Sha Tin to usher in his Year of the Dog in great style.
Irish ace Swinburn has had a tremendous winter stint but had his best day in the saddle when Golden Prosperity, backed down from 16-1 to 4-1 took the opening griffins' event, odds-on Blaze Of Glory won his event without too much fuss, and Financial Star (4-1) scored impressively in the nightcap.
''It's been a great day, a memorable start to the New Year. Maybe they should call it the Year of the Irish,'' said Swinburn.
The dual Epsom Derby winner has been riding in dazzling form lately and produced both Golden Prosperity and Financial Star with immaculately timed runs.
Blaze Of Glory, a hot tip on his debut when he should have been ridden by the injured Swinburn, duly won the 1,200-metre eighth event but did not have it all his own way.
The John Moore-trained Action Time kept the 7-5 favourite honest but Neville Begg's smart youngster was going away on the line, winning officially by a length with three lengths back to Wonderful (6-1).
But Swinburn was pleased with the win of the three-year-old, although admitting the horse had ostensibly little to beat in Class Five.
''I don't think that's the real point. I had to make a lot of use of him today under a very big weight and he responded and came away.
''I do believe he is a very nice type who would immediately be looking for 1,400 metres. And I have no doubt that he will come on a lot and he will respond to Neville's style of training.
''It was a very good win and you can take nothing away from it,'' said Swinburn.
Golden Prosperity seemed aptly named for those who followed - or initiated - a massive plunge on the David Oughton-trained youngster.
He opened at 16-1 on course but was soon backed in to 10-1 and then plummeted to 4-1 in the final minutes of betting.
There were a few nervous moments before Golden Prosperity really started to move and he easily cut down Amazing Win (7-2) in the last 100 metres to win going away by a length.
The Alan Munro-ridden Daiquiri (15-1) finished a good third at his racecourse debut and will improve.
Financial Star has been in and around the money on two occasions this season and was supported on three occasions.
Swinburn took over from Dean McKeown, now back in Britain, and the 1,800-metre trip seemed to be ideal for the Geoff Lane-trained grey who answered up readily and posted a two-length win in the Class Three event.
Topweight Allez Au Bon (6-1), suited by any sort of cut in the ground, came home fairly to take second place with New Airport (20-1) third.
Race favourite Prince Baikal (7-2) found no room in the straight at a crucial stage and finished fourth.
He would still be up to winning in this class.