Hong Kong will receive its first shipment of horses in almost two months with the Jockey Club brokering a deal to resume the transport of bloodstock.
A plane from Australia carrying 36 gallopers will arrive on Monday with 17 PPs (previously raced) and 19 PPGs (unraced).
It marks the first arrival of horses in Hong Kong since March 13, paving the way for more arrivals from other countries in the coming weeks.
“We will get 36 [horses] on Monday and then at the end of the month some horses will arrive from the UK,” Jockey Club executive director of racing Andrew Harding said. “It is a sizeable shipment.”
Harding said the Jockey Club was also confident it would be able move horses between New Zealand and Hong Kong too after a successful trip between New Zealand and Australia last week.
“It is a matter of whether any horses that need to come here come directly to Hong Kong or via Australia, we are confident that we will be able to get horses from there as well,” he said.
“There are several moving parts, you have got the airlines who need to be comfortable then it is a matter of the club and racing operations team together with our shipping agent IRT working through the logistics.”
With no restrictions on cargo flights, the Jockey Club only hit a hurdle when it came to the handling of the travelling grooms on the flights.
Under the new arrangement, grooms will not leave the plane upon their arrival in Hong Kong.
“They will arrive here, the horses will come off, some retired horses will come on and they will go back to Australia and they are then free to do it again,” Harding said.
“There has never actually been any interruption to cargo. Cargo flights have been still going, if anything they have been busier.
“It has just been a question of travelling grooms and we have always been pretty confident we would be able to get through it all.”
Harding said 26 retired Hong Kong gallopers would make their way Down Under on Monday to enjoy the next stage of their lives.
Previously, such a backlog of retired horses could have caused troubles for the Jockey Club but Harding said they had been able to send them to Conghua during the break.
“It is one of the advantages of Conghua, we have the stabling there so it hasn’t been a problem,” he said.
Purton proves Yip’s go-to man
Champion jockey Zac Purton proved once again he is Dennis Yip Chor-hong’s go-to man with the two improving their incredible record together at Sha Tin on Sunday.
They chalked up their 13th win together this season with Decisive Action in the Class Four Norman Conqueror Handicap (1,600m). Remarkably it was only Yip’s 18th winner this season.
Arriving in Hong Kong with a rating of 73, Decisive Action was uninspiring in his first 13 starts, never running better than fifth before Purton took the reins on Sunday.
Prior to the victory, Decisive Action went around in his 13 career starts at an average price of $161.
Well supported in betting ($6), the four-year-old went on to bolt in by three-and-three-quarter lengths in what was clearly his best performance in Hong Kong to date.
The result takes their winning strike rate together to 37 per cent this season with Yip only having victories with four other jockeys.
It marked Purton’s third win for the day, drawing him to within one of championship leader Joao Moreira, who tasted success with Fabulous Eight.
Purton also saluted on Like That in the Griffin Argonaut Plate (1,000m) and Demons Rock in the Class Five Special Cargo Handicap (1,200m).
Ting the stable-change king
Second-season trainer Jimmy Ting Koon-ho is Hong Kong’s stable-change king.
The 47-year-old showcased his skills again on Sunday, turning Momentum Happy into a winner in the Class Four Monaveen Handicap (1,400m) after owners made the move from Benno Yung Tin-pang’s stable.
In his career, Ting has produced 45 stable change runners with 12 of them winning their first starts in their new home, putting him at the top of the tree in Hong Kong.
Ting’s 26 per cent stable change strike rate sits clear of Douglas Whyte (21 per cent), Caspar Fownes (19 per cent), Frankie Lor Fu-chuen (15 per cent) and Danny Shum Chap-shing (14 per cent).
Momentum Happy had been slowly building towards a victory under Yung but a change to Ting’s yard proved to do just the trick, along with the addition of blinkers for the first time.
While he trialled impressively under Ting last month, he was still sent out a $14 chance by punters.
Jumping from barrier nine, jockey Derek Leung Ka-chun took no chances with the four-year-old, sending him straight to the front and was never headed, beating home the likes of Circuit Number One and Golden Four.
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