Chris So Wai-yin’s treble took him to within a win of his former boss Caspar Fownes at the top of the trainers’ championship as Team Fortune continued his remarkable dirt track turnaround on Wednesday night at Sha Tin.
Team Fortune’s third straight victory was wedged between wins by Flying Machine earlier in the night and Super Man later, So moving to 17 wins from as many meetings.
Team Fortune now finds himself in Class Two, where the sprinter looked like he belonged early in his career, and although the programme isn’t always kind to higher-ranked dirt stars, there is an option early next month.
“I was worried we wouldn’t have anywhere to race him on dirt after this, but a month from now is good,” So said.
With Douglas Whyte suspended, Silvestre de Sousa took the reins and from gate 11 kept Team Fortune in clear running.
Even though the five-year-old’s form has been transformed on dirt, So explained the gelding doesn’t like kickback. “That’s why Silvestre kept him wide and out of the way,” So said.
De Sousa wasn’t the only Brazilian to help So out with a great ride from a wide gate, as his countryman Joao Moreira producing some trademark magic on Flying Machine.
After nearly stealing the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday with an amazing effort on Heartbreak City from barrier 23, Moreira weaved his way to the rails from a tricky draw on the notoriously difficult 1,650m course.
“Barrier 10 from the 1,650m start is a bad draw, I knew we couldn’t go forward, so I said midfield with cover would be nice,” So said. “But to be where he was on the fence, I mean, what a ride. That was something else.”
Of So’s three winners, the trainer believes Super Man may have the most difficulty continuing his run of form after Brett Prebble extracted maximum effort from the six-year-old with a relentless ride. “That will put him near the top of Class Three, and he might struggle with the big weight,” he said.
Trainer David Ferraris said that before Jockey Club veterinary surgeon Paul Robinson performed a throat surgery on Class Four winner Hearts Keeper the horse had “sounded like a Massey Ferguson tractor.”
“The way this horse’s throat condition was, you could hear him coming from the top of the straight, he was the noisiest horse at Sha Tin,” Ferraris said of a dirt specialist that underwent the vital “wind op” late last season. “I begged the owners to get the operation done, he just couldn’t get enough air.
“They were hesitant as they had some bad experiences previously, but I assured them we have the best in the business here with Paul Robinson – he does a great job.
“Not surprisingly, now that the horse is getting some oxygen, it’s making all of the difference.”
Tony Millard was concerned 1,200m might be too short before Golden Sun scored for Chad Schofield and now he won’t be changing a winning formula.
“His form overseas is over further, so that was the only question we had, now we will bring him back and try again in Class Three,” Millard said.
Shortly after the start of race six Schofield was thrown to the dirt in a nasty incident but walked away unscathed and fulfilled riding obligations for the remaining two races.
Willie Way (Zac Purton) won the race with Paul O’Sullivan doing an exceptional job to have him ready for an 1,800m race first-up. “Entering him over 1,650m is a waste of time, he is a natural stayer and we thought we could get him fit just at the trials and with a lot of work,” O’Sullivan said.