Ricky Yiu Poon-fai snared a double at Sha Tin on Saturday, but he went home pretty flat after his boom sprinter Voyage Warrior suffered his second defeat while stablemate Alcari was a certainty beaten in the last.
The day started out with so much promise as Allied Agility (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu) bounced back to form in the second event before Karis Teetan made it a race-to-race double aboard Encore Boy.
But that was only the entrée – everyone wanted to see what his spruik speedster Voyage Warrior could do against John Moore’s rising star Aethero in the Class Two Wo Tik Handicap (1,000m) in what shaped as the race of the season so far.
Voyage Warrior looked on edge in the parade ring, but it didn’t stop punters from backing him into $1.70 while Aethero drifted to $4.35, however things unravelled even more as soon as the gates crashed back.
Multimillion, ridden by apprentice Alfred Chan Ka-hei, gave him a solid bump straight away and then poured the pressure on, and with Zac Purton not relenting on Voyage Warrior, neither of the two front-runners got a break.
When the question was asked with 300m to go, there wasn’t much of a response from Voyage Warrior, who dropped out to finish sixth, Aethero giving him windburn and storming away to win in style.
Adding insult to injury, Aethero bettered the track record of Yiu’s star sprinter Sacred Kingdom – the horse Voyage Warrior was likened to early in his career.
Yiu received another kick in the teeth in the last race when Alcari missed the start by three lengths and stormed home late to be beaten a half-length.
A dash of history!— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) October 12, 2019
Aethero dips inside the great Sacred Kingdom's course record set in 2007 (54.70s), scorching the track in 54.69s for John Moore and Joao Moreira. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/XjqELuA0eq
After such a positive start to the meeting, it was a frustrating finish for Yiu.
“The kid [Chan] was irritating my horse right from the start – he gave him a bump and pushed him to the outside. There was too much pressure and it set up the race for Aethero,” Yiu said.
“I said to the owner ‘last season when he was on his own he won three – no one came at him. Up at this level he gets other horses around him and it might burn him out’. That’s what happened.”
Purton had similar sentiments about the effort of Voyage Warrior.
“I thought he was disappointing,” Purton said. “It’s never a good thing when two horses go head-to-head and unfortunately Multimillion didn’t come back and give either horse much of a chance.
“I knew we were going a little bit too fast but I was mindful of not restraining him too much because of this breathing issue that he may have, so you’ve got to find a happy medium. I would rather keep him happy than fight him.
“But when I asked him for something there was just nothing there. He didn’t handle the pressure today. It was only his first start of the season, no doubt he’s better than what he showed today and hopefully he can bounce back.”
Get yourself to a because Thanks Forever V Voyage Warrior V Aethero is going to be an absolute cracker pic.twitter.com/6A5wKFEkh9— Adam Campton (@adamcampton) October 12, 2019
Yiu had hoped to plot a path to December’s Group One Longines Hong Kong Sprint via the Group Two Jockey Club Sprint, but will go back to the drawing board now, with a Class Two 1,200m contest on November 3 the likely next step.
“There’s a 1,200m race – it won’t be as tough,” he said. “It will be his first time stepping up over that trip and we’ll see how he goes.”