The Tony Millard-trained Rickfield left punters reeling after the seventh event at Sha Tin on Sunday, saluting at $176.30 to become the longest-priced outright winner in over three years.
While Magnificent technically won at $189.90 last season, a dead-heat with Encouraging saw that win dividend trimmed to $94.95 and you have to go back to Twin Delight’s victory at $268 in September 2016 to find a rougher result.
While the punters were left counting their losses, Millard was as matter-of-fact as ever after Rickfield collected his fourth win at start 34 in the Class Three JCI Hong Kong Senate Cup (1,650m) on the all-weather track.
“We race to win, we don’t mess around. Everything’s there to win,” he said. “I’m not a gambler, so it doesn’t make any difference to me what odds they are.”
Francis Lui Kin-wai’s Warm The Voice was a close second after being sent out at $53, with the outsiders combining to deliver a quinella dividend of $1,372.30.
Rickfield was the fifth horse to win at triple-figure odds since the start of 2018 and Millard praised the work of jockey Matthew Poon Ming-fai, who was having his first ride for the trainer this season.
“He rode a lovely race, he kept the horse out of the dirt and that was a huge thing. He wasn’t getting the kickback, he rode a pretty smart race and he brought it home,” Millard said.
It was Rickfield’s first win away from Happy Valley and only his second since June 2017 after initially being brought to Hong Kong in 2015 as a Derby prospect.
After settling last, Poon started a sustained move around the field 800m from home and Rickfield found the lead in the final 100m.
“He’s been a good horse, he’s been around for a long time and he’s found his niche,” Millard said. “Today the conditions suited him because the horses went very fast in front.”
Millard very nearly had another winner for the afternoon in the Class Five High West Handicap (1,650m), with Master Bernini producing a huge run to finish second from barrier 13.
It was the six-year-old’s first start for Millard after switching from David Ferraris’ stable and the move almost paid immediate dividends, however Master Bernini couldn’t quite go with Paul O’Sullivan’s Hidden Spirit in the concluding stages.
In a sudden deluge that hit Sha Tin right on start time for the third event, Master Bernini rattled home from near the back of the field under Joao Moreira but the wide alley proved telling in the end.
“We were a little bit unlucky in the third race, the draw killed us,” Millard said, adding that he believes the gelding will eventually break his maiden at the bottom of Class Five.
“I’m sure on 21 points he should pick up one this season, he’s not a great animal but he should pick up one.”