There is nowhere quite like Hong Kong for a jockey suffering through a long run of outs and Sam Clipperton and Vincent Ho Chak-yiu used Wednesday night’s all-dirt meeting at Sha Tin to snap losing streaks that stretched back to early December.
Clipperton’s victory on Prawn Baba and Ho’s success on Helen’s Choice were the first for either jockey since the December 3 meeting at Sha Tin, a period that for both seemed longer than seven weeks.
“It’s been pretty dry, so it’s good to get another win on the board and a change of luck,” said Clipperton, who had gone 72 rides without success and came to the races with just two opportunities last night.
Clipperton said Hong Kong racing provided a unique psychological test compared to his homeland when things aren’t going well.
“The thing about Australia when you have a dry run is that you go to the races at least three or four times per week and if you can’t change it in the metropolitan area you can at least go to the provincials and get a bit of a confidence booster,” he said. “Here there is none of that. It’s like Group One racing every race meeting and it’s only twice per week.”
Clipperton, who turned 24 on Monday, said Prawn Baba’s win was a chance to repay trainer John Size for the faith he has shown in him.
“It can be hard to get people to support you here when you aren’t going well but John has been great,” he said.
Prawn Baba broke a drought of his own – the five-year-old hadn’t won since being the final leg of Joao Moreira’s eight-timer in March last year – but Size said it wasn’t through lack of ability, just a matter of the honest gelding being “hard to place”.
“He isn’t alone here in that sense,” Size said. “His problem is that he is a middle distance horse well into Class Two, he is quite capable but there aren’t many options for him and it is hard to find the right race for him.”
Trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai was happy to play his part in Ho snapping a 63-race slide while the victory was also the sprinter’s first after a long break.
Helen’s Choice’s last win was in March 2016 with Kei Chiong Ka-kei aboard and Wednesday night’s victory came second-up after an arthroscopy to remove bone chips from a right front fetlock late last season.
“He is eight now so he probably doesn’t have many starts left but we thought he could still win if we got him back to the races,” Lui said.
Of Wednesday night’s winners, Victory Follow Me had all of the losing streaks covered – he had not won at all in 27 starts for trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing.
Shum kept things short and sweet when speaking to the press after Victory Follow Me’s breakthrough, the trainer again pushing through the pain barrier due to three fractured ribs.
“I know it has taken the horse a long time to win and that was only Class Five but I think he can win up in grade,” Shum said.
“He has run well in Class Four before and now that we know he goes well on dirt maybe we can find a race for him there.”
Me Tsui Yu-sak retained his mantle as king of the dirt this season with Winning Supreme (Dylan Mo Hin-tung) and Almababy (Nash Rawiller) lifting the trainer to outright third in the championship.
Ten of Tsui’s 23 winners have been on the dirt, the best of any handler.
Chater Thunder made it back-to-back dirt wins for Alexis Badel but and trainer David Ferraris said the improving type may have a future on turf as well.
“He is looking for further and there aren’t many options on the dirt so we can try him at 2,000m and beyond on the turf,” he said. “He is doing really well this little horse, Alexis struggled to pull him up – he wanted to go around again – so he will definitely stay.”