Jimmy Ting Koon-ho had never won with a debutant before Wednesday night but that anomaly was corrected by … The Anomaly.
The son of Real Impact hadn’t shown a lot in three trials leading up to the second section of the Class Four Ice House Handicap (1,200m) but he looked a better animal come raceday with an eye-catching performance in his first start.
Jockey Keith Yeung Ming-lun settled him in the second half of the field before The Anomaly let down strongly in the straight, rallying between runners to stick his neck out on the line to narrowly beat Jazz Steed and Courageous Dragon.
Given Ting had never had a first-starter win on debut in his two and a half years of being a trainer, it was no surprise punters overlooked the gelding, who created a huge upset at $64.
But the man himself wasn’t completely shocked – he’s got a big opinion of The Anomaly but thought he might need a bit further.
“Winning was a little bit of a surprise but I thought he would run well,” Ting said. “This race wasn’t very strong – only two or three horses had chances, the others were so-so.
“He had a good draw and before the race I thought he would run third, fourth, fifth – something like that.
“So it was a bit of a surprise, but I knew he had the ability – he is a good horse. I think his best distance will be a mile, he’s a nice horse.
“[Now that I’ve broken my duck with first-starters] hopefully we’ll get some more.”
The win was also a welcome one for Yeung, who hadn’t tasted success since November 8, ending a run of outs that had reached 107.
“He’s a good jockey and he always rides trackwork for me in the morning and tells me what is going on so I’ve given him some support and hopefully he can get some more winners,” Ting said.
While Ting achieved a career-first, Tony Cruz was the stand-out trainer on the night with a treble, headlined by Hong Kong Derby hope Delightful Laos.
The Irish import impressed in the Class Two Chater Handicap (1,650m) under Derek Leung Ka-chun, hitting the line strongly to edge out The Rock and Star Shine.
The win will take Delightful Laos’ rating into the mid-to-high 80s, which should be more than enough to qualify him for the remaining two legs of the four-year-old series.
“I’ll go to the Classic Cup with Delightful Laos, we’ll see how he goes there and then aim for the Derby as well,” said Cruz, who tasted success earlier on the card with California Legend and Dream Warriors.
“He’s showed a lot of promise and I really believe this horse can run 2,000m. If he can get into those races, I’d love to run him.”
The three highest-profile jockeys in Hong Kong – Christophe Soumillon, Joao Moreira and Zac Purton – each collected doubles.
Soumillon saluted on the first of Cruz’s winners, California Legend, before adding another with Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s consistent sprinter We The South.
Purton’s double came from opposite ends of the spectrum, first piloting odds-on favourite Ever Force to victory for Danny Shum Chap-shing before lifting Paul O’Sullivan’s veteran Moment Of Power home at $34.
In both instances the Australian edged out Moreira, relegating Peak To Peak to second in the former before knocking off short-priced favourite Whiskey Neat in the latter.
The old boy, Moment Of Power!— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) January 27, 2021
He might be an 8yo, but the Paul O'Sullivan-trained gelding shows his courage to bag his eighth course and distance win, scoring under a fierce drive from @zpurton. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/7VimSturxk
But Moreira didn’t miss out, collecting the opening event with the Tony Millard-trained Tigerlad before closing out the card with John Size’s Savaquin to capture the Jockey Challenge.