The good-luck/hard-luck stories for the “six win bonus” always balance on a knife edge and, depending on your position, We The South either delivered you a swift gut punch or is now your favourite horse after helping to deliver a share of the monster HK$16,214,362 dividend on offer at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
The six win bonus is one of the two white whales for punters in Hong Kong, alongside the triple trio. The carrot, of course, is the chance to collect a huge amount of cash. Numbers that have seven or eight digits.
You need to select the winner of each of the last six races to collect the prize. It is not easy, it tantalises, it teases and typically leaves you wanting more.
A bob of the head goes the wrong way, you make a last-minute decision to leave out a number, a bad ride, no luck – there are endless ways to do your money.
With HK$29.3 million invested on Wednesday night, the biggest dividend of the season was up for grabs. Thoughts of long holidays (once this coronavirus stuff is over), a new car or even retirement filtered through the minds of those who dared to dream.
So on a miserable night with nothing better than a Class Three on offer, the six up was clearly the focus.
It was a nervous start for punters, but most stayed alive as Karis Teetan lifted the $4.30 favourite Electric Lightning to a narrow victory.
At the top of the straight it looked like a wipeout, but David Ferraris’ veteran kept fighting to edge out King’s Man ($18) and Swot Troopers Wind ($41).
But those still alive didn’t have to wait long to be put out of their misery.
We The South – a horse who had never finished within six-and-a-half lengths from the winner in his three starts – rolled straight to the front at $29 and was never headed.
While the favourite Winning Ways never looked likely, the second elect Farm Bumper was hitting the line hard but fell short by a head. There might have only been 178 fans on course, but the collective groan was sensed in living rooms and taxis around the city.
It was a win for We The South’s trainer John Moore, but it was a huge blow to most playing the six up.
Moore has had a lot of problems with the three-year-old but has been working hard to correct them.
“The bottom line is the win did come, not as a complete surprise, but as a surprise because he was still a work in progress. Congratulations to [Vagner] Borges for a very good ride,” Moore said.
With most people knocked out, it is only natural that the favourite in the third leg, Tangmere ($3.50), cruised to an easy win.
But while the result was straightforward, the race was not, with Jack Wong Ho-nam suffering a nasty fall aboard Galaxy Emperor on the home turn.
Wong, who collected his first win in over three months with Paul O’Sullivan’s Great Son earlier in the night, suffered a fractured left foot and sore ribs and is set to spend the next month on the sidelines.
The fourth leg was a complete mess. Super Eighteen was withdrawn at the gates and then the two favourites Happy Good Guys and Lucky Quality missed the start.
It left the John Size-trained Destine Jewellery ($4.80) alone to take out a facile victory, extending the incredible winning streak of Chad Schofield to nine meetings.
Now while most were out of the running for the major prize, there was still the consolation up for grabs. For that, you need to run in the first two in each of the six races.
Those still alive in the consolation and reliant on odds-on favourite Dancing Fighter to finish first or second would have just about ripped their hair out at the start of the fifth leg when the talented four-year-old missed the start for a second straight time.
Instead he ran on well to finish third as the well-backed Beauty Amigo ($6.90) and Golden Dash ($7.80) filled the quinella.
The last leg was about Antoine Hamelin, the star Frenchman continuing the stunning start to his Hong Kong career by recording his fifth win from four meetings aboard Ricky Yiu Poon-fai’s Allied Agility ($9.60), who edged out favourite Larson.
At the end of it all, some combination of one, two or three tickets was still alive, sharing 70 per cent of the full HK$10 unit. A $2 ticket netted HK$3,242,872.40. It also means that $4,864,308 will jackpot to next Wednesday night’s card.
It was a night to remember for someone, but the rest will have to dust themselves off, forget about We The South and try again next time.