A string of beaten favourites and the freakish death of a high-profile import have made it a month to forget for Chris So Wai-yin and the trainer hopes Better Choice’s victory sparks a turnaround.
November started well for So, wins with Mythical Emperor and Amazing Star putting him near the top of the trainers’ championship.
Since then the stable has had six favourites beaten, including two odds-on chances – Bravo Watchman and Eighty Eighty – being rolled as top picks and had gone without a winner in 26 runners before Sunday’s success.
The trainer and his staff also suffered a terrible loss when South Australian Derby winner Volatile Mix died after the colt flipped over in his box midway through the month.
“It has been a bad run, but hopefully this can be the win that turns everything around,” So said after Better Choice imparted some more misery on favourite backers by beating 1.8 chance Pick Number One. “It is frustrating to have those horses go out as favourites and be beaten – but this time I’m the one beating the favourite.”
Better Choice was second-up after a sound debut at Happy Valley late last month and So felt Sha Tin would suit his horse better.
“I think he takes a little while to wind up and that he would like the longer straight more and in the future he will be better over further as well,” he said.
Nash Rawiller gave Better Choice one of the rides of the day, settling behind the speed.
“He is a nice horse and he put the writing on the wall with that run at Happy Valley, finishing off so well,” Rawiller said.
“You never know how much improvement they take from a first run but riding him a few times since then, he really felt as though he had come on for that. We got him into a nice position from an awkward draw and he was pretty decisive I thought. I think he has a bit of scope for improvement, he isn’t a big animal but he gives you a great feel.”
That lack of size is So’s only concern for Better Choice, who lost weight in the days after his first run, but was able to bounce back and add body weight before Sunday’s race.
“He isn’t a big horse but luckily he eats well,” he said.
Rawiller said a relaxed attitude will also help the gelding maintain condition.
“He is strong, and when they are relaxed like he is it really takes them a long way,” he said. “The lack of size would normally concern me but the way he gets around at trackwork it shouldn’t be a worry. I think he might have a class up his sleeve.”