St Yazin and Sunny Win gave local rider Ben So Tik-hung a night to remember at just his second meeting back from injury, but the day that laid him low still remains a mystery.
On October 8, So’s ride Silverfield clipped heels and dumped him on the dirt track at Sha Tin, where he lay unconscious before Jockey Club employees dragged him off the course for safety’s sake as the rest of the field raced on.
Although there were no fractures or ligaments damaged, So later suffered dizziness which kept him away from riding for a month and he only returned to the races on Sunday.
“I’m so happy – very lucky to get a double just my second day after a month without riding. I thought maybe it would take some time to win again so I’m very thankful that people gave me some horses with a chance,” said So, who scrambled home by the narrowest margin twice.
“And I still cannot remember what happened that day. I don’t remember how I fell, what happened, the hospital, who spoke to me, nothing. My memories start again from the second day.”
So’s joy was tinged with some relief that things were back in order and relief was a theme of the night for quite a few of the winners.
St Yazin was the second leg of a rare Gary Ng Ting-keung training double after Class Five speedster Double Master (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu) made the best of the lead in the opening event over 1,000m to win just his second race at eight years old, his first for Ng.
“I’m always happy to win with a horse with such limited ability,” said Ng. “You need a lot of luck.”
Neil Callan also collected a double, guiding home Sight Seeing in the fourth before the Irishman produced a brilliant ride to lift Enormous Honour to victory in the sixth.
The latter doesn’t belong in the limited ability category, however it was clear that trainer Me Tsui Yu-sak was relieved to see him finally win.
Enormous Honour had raced 23 times here for 11 minors placings, some in desperate finishes, and Tsui said while he didn’t lose faith in the horse being able to win, he just wasn’t sure when it might happen.
“So many placings, seconds, thirds, photo finishes,” he said. “He needed a good ride to finally win and still only by a small margin. I can hardly believe how good that ride was.”
Joao Moreira’s night promised the world and delivered an atlas, with the Brazilian having to settle for scraping home on Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained Super Sprinter in the fifth but he celebrated like it was a Group One.
Perhaps that was to do with Moreira having been aboard so many times when the horse was favourite and couldn’t get the job done until last night.
“This race set up perfectly for the horse – the draw, the strength of the race, everything,” Shum said.
“But I’m so relieved he won it because I felt if he didn’t, and he went up some more in the handicap, then his chance might be slipping away. He’s not a horse with many options but now he has won and with a small margin, hopefully he will stay in this class.”
Jockeys for the Longines International Jockeys Championship were finalised on the night too, with Derek Leung Ka-chun apparently now the local freelance representative despite not having ridden since injuring his head in a nasty fall. The Hong Kong representatives will be Moreira, Zac Purton and Douglas Whyte, now joined by Leung.
One rider who is unavailable for that meeting is Oisin Murphy, who was suspended for his ride on Industrialist and will also miss international day.