Trainer David Ferraris hopes to retire his cellar grade “champion” Amazing Always after the eight-year-old continued his incredible record in Class Five by winning his seventh race at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
The first half of a winning double for Ferraris, who won with Sangria (Neil Callan) later and jockey Karis Teetan, who also scored on Pretty Bauhinia, Amazing Always took his record in the bottom grade to six wins from 10 starts there.
“You don’t see many of his calibre win seven races,” said Ferraris.
“And he has been wonderful to train. He is the soundest horse in the stable, he’s bulletproof. He has never needed medication even once in his career and he has been so good whenever he has got down to this grade. I’ve just said to the owner that really the horse deserves to go out on a winning note and I hope he’ll retire him now.”
If Amazing Always is heading out of the game, Sangria is just hitting his straps and gave Neil Callan his 200th Hong Kong winner when he swooped down the outside to take the fifth race from a blanket finish.
Sangria is not exactly new to the place – this was his 14th start for his first win – but Ferraris feels the Spanish-bred five-year-old has found not just his level but his distance.
“I bought him at a sale. He didn’t make the reserve and I made them an offer and got him and he wasn’t expensive,” Ferraris explained. “In fact, he cost what you’d normally pay for an unraced horse, not one with some race form.”
Sangria had won a two-year-old Listed race in France and been placed in a Group Three and arrived too highly rated as a result.
“He was never going to be able to live up to the 85 rating he had when he arrived, I knew that from the start,” Ferraris said.
Jockey @neilcallan78 earned his 200th win in Hong Kong when guiding Sangria to a last-to-first score in Race 5 at our first of three Wines In The Valley nights at #HappyWednesdayHK pic.twitter.com/xQMSP7fWv5— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) January 17, 2018
“But in addition to dropping down to Class Four, I also think he needed the 1,800m he got tonight. In France, they ran him over sprint distances but my wife was the one who noticed his pedigree was much more inclined to staying races.
“We’ve only just got him to 1,800m tonight for the first time and I think 2,000m will suit him even better. So he’s really starting off now and I think he’ll pay his way.”
A number of winners made breakthroughs, with Pretty Bauhinia a first time victor at start 11 and All Best Friends (Callan) also winning his first race, with a drop to Class Four and the addition of blinkers.
“He was too high in the ratings at first so he has taken some racing to get down to a handicap where he can win but I put the blinkers on him as well because he wore them in Australia with some success,” trainer Manfred Man Ka-leung said.
“I hope now that he has won a race that he will take some confidence from it and maybe he will make a better fist of it up in Class Three again.”
Man also landed the night’s trophy race with Jade Theatre (Zac Purton).
John Size ticked his trainers’ championship lead out to five when Zero Hedge (Umberto Rispoli) landed the opening race with the rarest of gear changes playing a part.
Size had fitted Zero Hedge with a shadow roll after some consistent efforts when Rispoli had suggested the horse wasn’t giving 100 per cent and, whether it was the shadow roll or not, it did the trick.
The last time Size had added a shadow roll to a horse was when Premiere won on International Jockeys’ Championship night in December 2016, but before that he had not employed this particular gear change since 2005.
Rispoli made it a double for the night when he book ended the card, winning the last on Flying Tourbillon and giving trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai his 700th career winner.
It was a busy night in the stewards’ room with Alberto Sanna, Douglas Whyte and Brett Prebble all copping two-meeting suspensions, while the latter was also hit with a HK$15,000 fine.