Blake Shinn admitted it “could be years” since he’s walked off a racetrack feeling as satisfied as he was when leaving Sha Tin after a superb four-timer on Sunday, a dominant afternoon he hopes could be a watershed moment in his Hong Kong career.
After arriving in Hong Kong with a CV bulging with big-race wins, Shinn’s struggles have been well-documented but riding only 39 winners across the past two seasons has done little to blunt the 33-year-old’s determination.
“I’ve had some big days in Sydney and I’ve had some good moments here like winning the Classic Mile and winning on Sky Field, but this is a different feeling,” said Shinn, who had never even ridden a treble in Hong Kong before Sunday.
“I’m just delighted and it’s a great day but I’m not going to get carried away in the moment, we’ve still got a job to do to try to build off this and kick on from here.
“It’s been a while coming, to have a big day like this in Hong Kong has been a couple of years in the making and let’s hope this is the start of something really good this season. It’s been a lot of hard work and it’s happened today and I’m very grateful.”
Shinn arrived at Sha Tin with a book of rides worthy of expectation and he started his spree aboard the Dennis Yip Chor-hong-trained Light My Day in the opening event before barrelling through the card with victories aboard David Hayes-trained pair Lord Thunder and Super Wealthy and Michael Chang Chun-wai’s Golden Four.
“Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would get four winners. You can go to the races thinking you’ve got a wonderful book of rides and you may not walk away with a winner. I was confident Lord Thunder was my best ride and I thought he could win and I knew Super Wealthy was training well,” Shinn said.
Lord Thunder impressed in the first section of the Class Four Lam Tin Handicap (1,200m) on the all-weather track – Hayes’ first debut victory on the dirt – and Super Wealthy laid down a marker for bigger things to come with a powerful finish in the Class Two Choi Hung Handicap (1,000m).
“David Hayes has been a legend of world racing and he has been great for my career since he’s come back to Hong Kong,” Shinn said.
“He was my biggest supporter last season and it looks to be that way again this season. [Lord Thunder] did a few little things wrong, he was a little bit tardy away but then he mustered speed beautifully and settled well in the box seat.
“He presented like he was going to win by three lengths but just floated a little bit. There’s plenty of upside, he’s a lovely horse. He was well presented today and it’s nice to be given the opportunity to ride these exciting young horses.”
Super Wealthy completed a treble for Hayes – the middle leg coming thanks to King’s Capital – and the veteran was beaming post-race.
“I was thrilled with him because he relaxed and didn’t throw his head today. That’s why I elected to keep him at 1,000m, because I think the tempo of the 1,200m he wants to go too fast sometimes,” Hayes said. “I’ll probably keep him at 1,000m for one more race and I’m very, very happy.”
Light My Day’s victory in the Class Five Sau Mau Ping Handicap (1,600m) provided the first leg of a double for Yip, his second winner Flying Bonus, and Golden Four’s success in the Class Five San Po Kong Handicap (1,400m) completed Chang’s double after Steel Win’s earlier victory.