Fresh off notching his 400th Hong Kong winner, trainer Paul O’Sullivan didn’t waste any time ringing up his 401st as Acclaimed Light captured the Class Three Sauternes Cup (1,650m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
The consistent six-year-old has been knocking on the door all season – he had finished in the first four seven times without winning while his rating had fluctuated between 61 and 63 – but finally everything went his way.
Jockey Matthew Chadwick settled Acclaimed Light in the box seat while Don’t Miss took up the lead, before switching off his back in the straight and running over the top for his first win since December 2016.
“No weight, nice draw, good ride – that’s what made the difference,” O’Sullivan said.
“Say a horse has 12 runs in a year, you might only have two of those when he’s drawn a gate, he’s got the right weight, the speed is right so their window of opportunity is very small. And if they miss it, they can be racing well but you might go through a whole season without winning.
“He is always there or thereabouts. He’s just a very honest horse.”
The win gave Chadwick something to smile about after incurring a two-meeting suspension for his ride on Peace On Earth in the opening race of the night. Vincent Ho Chak-yiu was the other rider outed on the night, also copping a two-meeting ban after his effort on Shalluck in the fourth race.
But one jockey who didn’t have the same luck was Sam Clipperton, who missed out on the winning ride aboard Benno Yung Tin-pang’s You Have My Word in the Class Four Ng Tung River Handicap (1,800m) after having to forfeit his mounts earlier in the day because of a chest infection.
Karis Teetan was the one to take advantage, pouncing late to give the six-year-old his second win of the season.
It’s been a big turnaround for You Have My Word, who only beat one runner home in his first six starts across his first two seasons at Sha Tin.
“There was nothing wrong with the horse, but he hated Hong Kong,” the trainer said. “I said to the owner there are two things we can do – give him a long break or you can send him back to New Zealand to race. There was nothing physically wrong with him, it was all mental. The ability was there but he wasn’t happy here and he didn’t want to try. But now he is much happier, more acclimatised and now he is trying.”
In the race for the jockeys’ championship, Zac Purton pulled Joao Moreira’s lead back to eight after book-ending the card.
The Magic Man had one winner with the John Size-trained Zero Hedge, but the Australian got two as he saluted on Casper Fownes’ Formula Galore and Fast Most Furious for David Hall, and the latter clearly has more upside.
“He is only lightly raced and that is not his best distance, which showed tonight because he was off the bit a long way out. I think we will be looking for a step up in trip,” Hall said. “But he carried 133 pounds, so in the circumstances it was a pretty good win.”
Fast Most Furious completed a running double for Hall, who also tasted success with Lucky Time. That win also gave his apprentice Matthew Poon Ming-fai a brace after winning earlier aboard the Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained Orionids.
Meanwhile, the Jockey Club announced it has received seven international entries for the Group One Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup, but only one is a chance to be racing at Sha Tin on May 27.
The list of entrants features Godolphin duo Hawksbill and Frontiersman, South African Derby winner Al Sahem, Japan’s Chestnut Coat, and European trio Chemical Charge (Great Britain), Mac Mahon (Italy) and Veneto (Germany).
“It’s good to get the entries and it’s nice to get the interest but practically speaking the only live chance we really have is Chemical Charge,” Jockey Club director of racing business and operations Bill Nader said.
“There were quite a few stables really thinking about it but it’s really competitive out there and if we get one horse to come that’s a good starting place.
“It’s a building process. Outside of Champions Day and Hong Kong International Races, the Champions & Chater is the race best positioned to get international participation so we’ll push for that moving forward.”