Francis Lui Kin-wai turned 60 on Tuesday and he celebrated the occasion in style by adding an extra zero at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
The unassuming trainer notched the 600th winner of his career when Golden Cannon took out the Class Five Sham Shui Po Handicap (1,650m), holding off a lunging Dashing Dart in the run to the line.
Lui acknowledged the mark, but said he’s not finished yet.
“It’s not easy [to get to 600], I’m very happy. Hopefully there are still more winners to come,” said Lui, who started training in the 1996-97 season.
“I never think about the past, I just keep looking forward.”
Golden Cannon is not one of the stable’s top performers – he has just three wins from 34 starts – but had dropped down to a rating he could handle.
“This horse has a good fighting heart,” Lui said. “This season he’s taken a little bit longer to come on in condition, last season he had knee soreness but he still tried his best.
“You can see in the last two runs he’s been getting fitter. I thought he had a good chance because last run he got interfered with.”
The win was Lui’s 12th of the season, with 10 of them being ridden by the in-form Vincent Ho Chak-yiu.
“Vincent is riding well, he’s got more confidence now and he’s improving,” Lui said. “I’m happy to see it because I use him a lot.”
Ho’s former boss Caspar Fownes also had success on the night and was full of praise for the Jockey Club’s veterinary team after debutant Snap Fit saluted in the Class Four Mong Kok Handicap (1,000m).
The New Zealand import arrived in Hong Kong 10 months ago, but it has taken a long time to get him to the races after being diagnosed as a roarer and needing surgery.
“He was a nice horse and he was doing well then he started to sound a bit raspy in the morning and we scoped him and his throat was gone,” Fownes said.
“Paul Robinson did the surgery and all credit to him. It’s hard to bring these horses back when they have throat surgery.
“Throat surgery is probably a 30 or 40 per cent success rate but he’s done well. The stats really aren’t with us but I’m very happy to get that result. It’s always nice to win first-up.
“When you get an owner and they’re paying money and you hope you can get that result for them because it’s not much fun otherwise. It’s expensive.”
Snap Fit clearly responded well to the procedure, lifting when Zac Purton put him under pressure to hold off Gracious Ryder and get his career off to a winning start.
“He didn’t change legs either, so he stayed on all right, it was a good effort,” Fownes said.
Speaking of waiting a while, trainer David Ferraris was pleased to break his drought when London Master (Neil Callan) produced the shock of the night to claim the Class Four Hong Kong Football Club Centenary Cup (1,200m).
.@neilcallan78 gets busy with 550m to go & rousts London Master wide down the straight to edge Travel Datuk in the Hong Kong Football Club Centenary Cup. #HKracing #HappyWednesday pic.twitter.com/X9HczlzejJ— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) January 23, 2019
The seven-year-old was sent off at 20-1, but stormed home down the middle of the track, edging out Travel Datuk.
It was Ferraris’ first win since The Sylph prevailed on December 5, stopping his run of outs at 80.
Me Tsui Yu-sak took the training honours on the night, collecting a double with Music Addition (Silvestre de Sousa) and Namjong Plus (Keith Yeung Ming-lun).
The former was the most impressive winner at the meeting, kicking away to win the Class Three So Kon Po Handicap (1,200m) by a soft three lengths.
Me Tsui-trained Music Addition leaves an impression with his first Hong Kong win, racing on-pace and quickening powerfully under @SilvDSousa to win with something in hand. #HKracing #HappyWednesday pic.twitter.com/Ha5TE09OxW— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) January 23, 2019
Joao Moreira was the only rider to land multiple winners, bookending the card with Michael Chang Chun-wai’s The Joy Of Giving and Bank On Red from the John Size stable.