Hong Kong racing is a roller-coaster and trainer David Ferraris is riding the high right now.
After the first 11 meetings, the South African was languishing at the bottom of the championship as the only handler without a winner but just two-and-a-half weeks later, the stable is flying with five winners on the board.
Welcome to the ebbs and flows of life at Sha Tin.
Ferraris endured a run of 55 outs to start the season, but the turnaround has been even more dramatic with five victories and eight placings from his past 30 runners.
The latest of those wins came at Happy Valley on Wednesday night when the veteran Kiram captured the Class Four Lawasia Cup (1,650m) under the guidance of the in-form Neil Callan.
“He’s a beautiful old horse, he was in very good form tonight, I really, really liked him,” Ferraris said.
“I told [the owners] he would be very hard to beat. He’s in the best form I’ve ever had him in and draw one helped. Once you draw one, it’s 50 per cent of the battle won.”
The mood around Ferraris’ stable has flipped completely in the past few weeks – it’s amazing what a few winners can do – and he’s hoping to take advantage of those good vibes.
“I’m winning with my old horses – I need some new ones. I have 10 empty stables so any owners are welcome to bring them to me,” Ferraris said with a smile.
“All the Olympic-side stables are going well. Douglas [Whyte] is going well, Michael Chang [Chun-wai] is going well, I’m going well. It’s taken a while but I still think they’re the best stables to be training from. I’m happy.”
Ferraris’ neighbour Chang also tasted success on the nine-race card as Bullish Glory was the beneficiary of a well-judged Joao Moreira ride to prevail in the Class Four Gloucester Handicap (1,800m).
That is not the race the owners originally had in mind when they bought the son of Roderic O’Connor from Italy after winning the Group Two Gran Criterium when known as Biz Heart for Stefano Botti in 2015.
It took 27 attempts... but Italian import Bullish Glory finally breaks through for his first Hong Kong win, sweeping down the outside under Joao Moreira. #HappyWednesday #HKracing pic.twitter.com/pO5LcDWilz— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) November 6, 2019
But their early Hong Kong Derby ambitions were dashed as Bullish Glory battled to adjust to life at Sha Tin and he plummeted from an initial rating of 85 to 43 last start.
There were signs of hope when he finished a narrow second last month and it all came together on Wednesday night as the seven-year-old landed his maiden Hong Kong win at his 27th start.
“He’s a nervous horse – he’s had a few issues,” Chang said. “He’s not consistent from the barrier – sometimes he rears up and misses the start. This year I think he’s a little bit more mature, he’s settled down.
“I’ve given him plenty of work to make him tired – that calms him down and then you can teach him manners.
“He won a Group Two, he finished fourth in the [Italian Derby]. Today’s distance of 1,800m might have been a little short for him, I’ll talk to Joao and maybe next start I’ll step him up to 2,200m.”
David Hall and Zac Purton combined for a double on the night as Mr Picasso and High Rev saluted in their respective contests – the latter particularly impressive scooting away for his third win in four starts.
“He is in really good form so let’s hope he isn’t done with yet,” Hall said. “I would like to increase his distance, the next run might be the [International Jockeys’ Championship] race over 1,800m – Class Two at the Valley. He has a few points in the Millions Challenge so we might just stick to that and see how he goes.”
Meanwhile, luck continues to elude rookie jockey Lyle Hewitson, with all bets refunded on his opening ride of the night, Methane, after stewards determined he was denied a fair start.
The South African jockey called out to the starter and was looking for assistance from the barrier attendants when the galloper dropped his head down just before the gates opened.
The footage shows Hewitson putting his right arm on the partition to get some help, but instead the barriers crashed back and he missed the start by about four lengths.
Methane finished off the race well to cross the line seventh, just behind Super Lucky, but stewards declared him a non-runner, refunding his supporters.