Keith Yeung Ming-lun ended his second serious drought of the term in style on Sunday, landing his biggest career success aboard the Caspar Fownes-trained Dances With Dragon in the Group Three Premier Plate (1,800m).
It was Yeung’s first winner in 105 rides in a run of outs dating back to April 5, a dry spell compounded by the 171 winless mounts he endured in the lead-up to that April success.
“Yes it’s a Group Three but the meaning behind it is more important. I’m a jockey who had only won one race in seven months, so imagine if you’re Caspar,” Yeung said after his maiden Group success and seventh victory of the season.
“He knows the horse is really fit and that the horse has got a chance, so to put me on is not an easy decision.
“I just really appreciate when you are low, that someone is still willing to support me like Caspar and the owners did.
“That really motivates me and I’m so thankful. I don’t feel like I’ve won a Group Three, I’m just happy I didn’t let him down. That means the most to me.”
The victory capped a remarkable second half of the season for Dances With Dragon, who has won four of his six starts since joining the Fownes stable from Peter Ho Leung.
Yeung rode the six-year-old in his close sixth at Group Three level last month and Fownes was thrilled he decided to stick with the affable jockey.
“I’m very happy, mostly for Keith – he needed this winner to pick up his morale and just get him in a good place. I’m glad that I stuck with him and gave him the chance to do it,” Fownes said.
“Hopefully he can get some opportunities coming into the new season because he doesn’t do much wrong, he rides pretty well and he rides 113 pounds.”
With the pace slow early as Southern Legend and More Than This sorted themselves out up front – with More Than This eventually emerging an unlikely leader – Dances With Dragon travelled nicely in midfield.
The gelding had plenty to give when the pace quickened, easily putting paid to his rivals in the final 300m under the bottom weight to win by nearly five lengths.
After joining Fownes’ stable on a rating of 83 in February, Dances With Dragon will head for a spell on a mark somewhere north of 110.
“The horse has performed really well since he’s come over to the stable,” Fownes said. “He ran very well last start [over a mile in Group Three], I just felt when he had the visor on he was a little bit keen so I opted to take the visor off for this race.
“He only got beaten two lengths last start against pretty much the same bunch of horses and I felt the 1,800m wasn’t a problem.
“He’s done his job as far as I’m concerned, his first win was in Class Three and now he’s got a Group Three win.”
Fownes also had Southern Legend in the race, with the seven-year-old finishing fifth in his final run of a season that peaked with his victory in the Group One Champions Mile in April.
“It was always going to be hard. On paper, who would have thought More Than This was going to lead,” Fownes said.
“I looked at the race and thought we were going to control it and get good sectionals and he went out to do that and all of a sudden you’ve got More Than This crossing you.
“He still ran with merit, when they carry 133 [pounds] it’s always tough. When you’re giving good horses 20 pounds it’s very hard to beat them.”