If anyone can empathise with Tommy Berry’s struggles in his first full-time season in Hong Kong it is fellow freshman Michael Freedman, who has endured his own challenging start to his time at Sha Tin.
The two mates have had plenty of near misses together so it was fitting on Berry’s big bounce-back day that Freedman provided one of his three winners, giving the trainer a timely boost as well.
“It’s nice to be part of that for sure because we’ve been good friends for a while and it’s good to see him having a good day,” Freedman said after Honest Way was the middle leg of Berry’s treble, following Romantic Bonanza but before Pakistan Star.
“He ran second for me in the Golden Slipper last year and the best race I won in Singapore – the Singapore Gold Cup in 2013 – Tommy rode for me so we go back a while.”
Heading into the meeting, Freedman had collected 10 placings since his last winner on April 15, but this time the photo went his way as Honest Way beat Regency Darling by a head.
“It’s been a frustrating run of placings, this place is built on winning and the winning culture so I’m aware I need to get a bit of a wriggle on so it’s nice to get another one up,” Freedman said after Honest Way’s victory.
“I’m on 12 [winners] after that so if I could get to around that 15 or 16 [that would be good] – I was aiming for a few more earlier in the year but things haven’t really gone my way on and off the track.
“I’ve learned a lot this year so I’m putting that down to experience. It can be very frustrating when you think you’ve got your horses going well enough and you’re getting nutted out in nose finishes but it’s part of the game.”
Honest Way caught the eye on debut when flying home for one of those narrow seconds, but after two average runs he showed what he is was capable off in the Class Four Helene Super Star Handicap (1,200m).
“He’s probably still a bit green, we tried him at 1,400m last start and he just wasn’t quite ready for it, so we gave him a freshen up and back to the 1,200m,” Freedman said.
“I think at the moment, that’s probably his best distance. Maybe next season as he matures a bit we might try him over further.
“He’s a horse with decent ability, I think he’s just still learning his trade though.”
Danny Shum Chap-shing also expects improvement to come from Romantic Bonanza and Super Model after they ran the quinella in the opening event.
Zac Purton took the odds-on favourite Super Model to the front early, but Romantic Bonanza relished the step up to 1,200m and the addition of blinkers to give Berry his first win of the day.
“Before the race I thought Super Model was the better chance because he trialled well, but the blinkers going on made the difference for Romantic Bonanza,” Shum said. “Next season, both should have a good future.”