Ricky Yiu Poon-fai was bullish about his chances in the build-up to Saturday’s Sha Tin meeting and he delivered in spades, with a fighting Preciousship win the headline act in a running treble for the veteran.
Yiu declared on Friday that “I’ve got eight runners and most of them will be very, very close” and punters who took heed of the trainer’s confidence cashed in.
The wins of World Famous ($6.95), Lone Eagle ($36.55) and Preciousship ($1.85) meant a $10 wager on each of Yiu’s eight runners returned $453.50, or a 466 per cent return on investment.
⚽️ ⚽️ ⚽️ Hat-trick for Yiu!— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 8, 2020
Preciousship gives the trainer 3⃣ wins on the bounce, overcoming trouble in running with a tough drive down the home straight under @Vincenthocy. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/mgCPxYeNvg
The haul catapulted Yiu back to the top of the trainers’ championship with 37 wins, two ahead of Francis Lui Kin-wai, who left Sha Tin empty-handed on Saturday.
But even more important for the trainer was his return to form after he had gone 35 runners without a winner in a dry trot dating back to January 15.
“It’s nice to be ahead again, of course,” Yiu said. “I’m trying for the premiership but it’s too early to tell.”
Yiu has high hopes for Preciousship, suggesting last month he could go on to become one of Hong Kong’s best milers, and the five-year-old produced the goods again in the Class Two Choi Wan Handicap (1,600m).
Preciousship travelled midfield and was forced to dig deep after bumping with Not Usual Talent on the turn and getting shuffled back, with Vincent Ho Chak-yiu regrouping before lifting the horse to victory.
“It was a little bit bumpy but the jockey did the right thing,” Yiu said. “He took a sit, gave him a second to breathe and accelerated again.
“He just loves to race, he enjoys it – you don’t often find a horse that loves to run, but that’s him. He’s a lovely horse to train and he’s a lovely horse to ride. He has a good temperament, he’s a piece of cake.”
Preciousship’s four Hong Kong wins have all come this season and his rating will be close to 100 after Saturday’s win, with Yiu expecting a tough task next time out.
“He will carry a bit of weight next time if he stays under a rating of 100, so we will hope for the best,” he said. “He’s done well so far so we’ll give him a little break and freshen him up.”
Ho also partnered World Famous, sitting outside the leader before taking control 700m from home and hanging on to take out the Class Three Lok Fu Handicap (1,800m) by a neck from Douglas Whyte’s Enzemble.
Derek Leung Ka-chun was in the saddle for Lone Eagle’s upset success in the Class Three Kai Yip Handicap (1,200m) on the all-weather track.
It was the five-year-old’s dirt debut under Yiu and he will find himself on the surface more often after travelling wide throughout from barrier 12 but still letting down nicely in the straight.
“He is a morning star on the dirt, he tries really hard on it and he goes like lightning so that’s why I want to keep him on the dirt now,” Yiu said.
“He had a bad draw but maybe it wasn’t a bad thing because he didn’t get the kickback from there. If he had a good draw he would have been in there getting the kickback, which he hates. The jockey rode a good race.”