Punters will be studying the form in minute detail ahead of next weekend’s Sha Tin meeting after Enzemble ensured there will be something close to a HK$100 million Triple Trio dividend.
Manfred Man Ka-leung’s six-year-old was the rank outsider for the Class Three Piper’s Hill Handicap (2,000m) but he defied his $58 quote with jockey Matthew Poon Ming-fai leading all the way to cause the upset.
There was HK$1,371 still alive heading into the final leg but those punters were left heartbroken as Above ($20) and Vincy ($13) filled the placings behind Enzemble to make sure the Triple Trio failed to go off with a jackpot of HK$61,038,115 rolling into next week.
Sunday’s pool was already filled by a HK$$37,091,282 jackpot – the biggest since the start of the 2012-13 season – and that will only pique the interest of more fans for the card on June 6.
It is possible the dividend for a HK$10 unit could reach somewhere near HK$100 million, sparking memories of the halcyon days of the bet in the 1990s and early 2000s.
But the Triple Trio dividend was not front of mind for Poon, who was simply trying to get the best result on Enzemble.
“I didn’t know that. I don’t know what races are the special races – I just keep riding,” Poon laughed.
After struggling in his first four runs this campaign – 12th, 13th, 12th and 13th (beaten a combined 23 lengths in those last two) – a step up in trip and a change of tactics proved a masterstroke.
“I did not expect to win at all but Manfred told me to try to lead because he’s quite one-paced. Because I had the good draw I was able to do that and gave him an easy time early. He gave me a great finish – I didn’t expect it – but he can definitely handle the distance,” Poon said.
“We now know he’s an on-pace horse, he needs to sit handy to give him a chance and hopefully next start he can perform the same.”
It was the first of a double for Man, who also tasted success with Dublin Star (Karis Teetan) in the first section of the Class Three Eagle’s Nest Handicap (1,200m).
The Triple Trio wasn’t the only exotic to jackpot on the day with the six win bonus also rolling over into next week, where an extra $2,855,502 will be in the pool.
Yeung snaps four-month drought
Keith Yeung Ming-lun snapped a run of outs that had reached 186 rides, piloting Team Power to victory in the Class Three Hung Mui Kuk Handicap (1,400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The likeable 33-year-old’s previous winner came aboard The Anomaly at Happy Valley on January 27 and he’d endured 13 placings in the meantime.
But it all came together with Ricky Yiu Poon-fai’s galloper, who settled in the box seat before letting down nicely in the straight to hold off the fast-finishing Lucky Fun at a healthy $56.
Yeung was pleased to get the monkey off his back.
“It’s always good to have a winner of course, especially after a long time,” Yeung said. “I thought my best chance was going to be the last race – Caspar Fownes’ horse The Crown. I didn’t think Team Power was going to win, it was a surprise.
“It was just one of those races where I had plenty of luck. I drove him from the barrier, he showed good speed and he had a lovely run. He was able to settle behind the speed and the best part was that Jerry Chau [Chun-lok’s] horse [Fighting Star] hung out, so it opened up a big gap – it all worked out for me.”
So snags early double
Trainer Chris So Wai-yin enjoyed a double early on Sunday’s programme with both Light Of Wanshi and Copartner Ambition getting the chocolates.
They won in similar fashion by running over the top of their rivals, with the former proving too strong in the first section of the Class Four Tate’s Cairn Handicap (1,400m) while the latter saluted in the Class Four Sha Tin Heights Handicap (1,200m).
Copartner Ambition seems to have a bit of upside, bouncing back from a disappointing effort after an eye-catching effort on debut.
“After the first start we thought 1,200m was a bit short so we stepped up to 1,400m but he just wasn’t ready for it – he couldn’t handle it. So that’s why we came back to 1,200m and put the cheek pieces on to make him more focused,” So said.
“He’s got ability – we just didn’t need to push him. I was hoping he would bounce back.”
Light Of Wanshi just took a little bit of time to acclimatise and, given his racing style, he also needs circumstances in his favour to show what he’s capable of.
“Light Of Wanshi in his last couple of runs he was ready to win but we just have to ride him quietly – that’s how we’ll get the best out of him,” So said.
Both were ridden by Vincent Ho Chak-yiu, who finished the day with a quartet after bookending the card with Tailor Made and Naboo Attack.
Jockey Club moves Hong Kong International Sale
The Jockey Club has moved the Hong Kong International Sale to Sunday, June 27 to comply with the government’s social distancing restrictions.
Originally scheduled for the evening of Friday, June 25, it will now be held in the morning so those attending can enjoy food and beverage service, something that was not possible if it was held in its original slot.
The Sunday was available because the weekend meeting is being held on the Saturday and the event will kick off at 10am before the simulcast of Takarazuka Kinen day from Japan.