Me Tsui Yu-sak gave himself a late Christmas present with a double at Happy Valley on Wednesday night and he might collect an even larger gift if Telecom Brothers can hold his lead in the Hong Kong Airlines Million Challenge.
The trainer took out the opener with Starlit Knight (Silvestre de Sousa) and then capped off his night when Telecom Brothers (Victor Wong Chun) rattled off his third-straight win in the Class Three Venus Handicap (1,200m).
The latter is in a rich vein of form and now shares the lead in the Million Challenge with 49 points, alongside John Size’s Red Warrior, who came second in the last race of the night.
If Telecom Brothers can prevail when the contest, which rewards efforts in Class Three and above at Happy Valley, ends on February 13, connections pick up a cool HK$650,000.
“I hope we can win the Million Challenge,” Tsui said. “He’s quite an honest horse. I went for the 1,200m so he doesn’t need to rush too much on the early speed because the 1,000m is a little bit faster than 1,200m and he’s not quick enough to lead in the 1,000m.”
De Sousa continued his excellent run with another double – he’s had winners at seven of the past eight meetings – adding a victory on John Moore’s Happy Dragon to his earlier success on Starlit Knight.
On the other end of the scale, jockey Matthew Chadwick broke his run of outs when he lifted Polymer Luck to salute in the first section of the Uranus Handicap (1,650m).
Chadwick had gone 58 rides since Starship’s win on November 10, enduring 12 placings in the process, before greeting the judge first on Jimmy Ting Koon-ho’s gelding.
He then made it a double when he gave the Richard Gibson-trained Litterateur a peach of a ride in the Class Two Mercury Handicap (1,650m).
Chadwick settled the six-year-old fourth from barrier nine before hooking out in the straight and coming away to score in style.
“It was a masterful ride from Chadwick, that’s what he wanted to do before the race which made it even sweeter,” Gibson said.
“I have a lot of confidence in him, I think he rides Happy Valley brilliantly, he came up with a pre-race plan that I agreed to and he nailed it to perfection.”
Speaking of trainers singing the praises of jockeys, Michael Chang Chun-wai couldn’t speak any higher about Joao Moreira after he recorded his fifth winner of the season when the aptly named The Joy Of Giving took out the Neptune Handicap (1,800m).
“It was a good win – he’s the best jockey in Hong Kong,” Chang said. “Class Five, the horse is in good form, I got the best jockey on and it wasn’t a strong race. To have a winner is a big help for a small yard.”
While the Magic Man was the punters’ pal with The Joy Of Giving, he turned from hero to villain when $1.40 favourite Special Stars went under in the following race.
John Size’s three-year-old loomed up to win the Class Four Jupiter Handicap (1,000m) but couldn’t get past Vincent Ho Chak-yiu and the Chris So Wai-yin-trained Thou Shall Sing in the run to the line.
It was not your typical Valley meeting with a host of trainers on holidays – So watched Thou Shall Sing’s win from Japan, Moore was in Thailand while David Hall also missed Gallant Return’s (Matthew Poon Ming-fai) breakthrough Hong Kong victory.