David Ferraris gave his son Luke a lift in more ways than one at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, delivering him his first Hong Kong winner before hoisting the 19-year-old into his arms in elation.
It was a true family affair in the parade ring after Go Ballistic’s victory in the Class Five Heung Yip Handicap (1,800m) – with Luke’s mother Pam quick to deliver a hug as the significance of the victory sunk in.
“It’s like a dream for us,” said David Ferraris, moments before he had to knock back a call mid-interview from his father Ormond – a South African racing legend.
In his 21st Hong Kong ride, Luke Ferraris swiftly found the rail from gate five aboard Go Ballistic and gave the six-year-old a beautiful run in transit.
Forced to muscle his way into clear air when things briefly got a little tight at the top of the straight, Go Ballistic went home the strongest to defeat Sky Gem by half a length.
“It’s very fitting that it was for dad. I’m over the moon to have my first winner in Hong Kong. It’s a bit of a feat and to have it for dad is the cherry on top,” the jockey said, adding that it’s been quite some time since he’s been cradled by his father.
“I didn’t even know he had that in him. It must have been adrenaline. The last time he did that I must have been five.”
The father and son combination was close to ringing up a double, with Surrealism finishing second after being run down by Fa Fa in the shadows of the post and Stoicism running a close third on a night the youngster hopes will give him a boost as he carves out his Hong Kong career.
“It’s a lot more competitive. The opportunities are harder to come by than elsewhere. The racing here is very well run and getting the opportunities is the big thing because if you don’t have the horse, you don’t have the horse,” said Ferraris, a two-time champion apprentice and multiple Group One winner in his native South Africa.
The senior Ferraris declared in June that he would be “desperately trying to get a couple ready” for his son to win on and he stuck true to his word, snaring his first winner of the season in the process.
“His father might be battling but at least his son’s on his way, so I’m very happy with that,” the trainer said.
“He’s a top rider, he’s a multiple Group One-winning jockey and he can hold his own anywhere. The trainers will see that.”
It was the first of a number of breakthroughs – even if not of the same magnitude – with prolific pair Francis Lui Kin-wai and Vincent Ho Chak-yiu getting off the mark thanks to Spicy Grill’s victory in the Class Five Nam Fung Handicap (1,200m) after combining for 51 victories across the past two seasons.
Antoine Hamelin also hit the board for 2021-22, piloting Baltic Whisper to victory in the Class Four Shum Wan Handicap (1,200m) after he was backed from $43 into $7.80 late in betting.
Ho was back in the action soon after, helping Frankie Lor Fu-chuen to his first victory of the campaign with a win aboard the smart Fa Fa in the Class Three Hong Kong Country Club Challenge Cup (1,650m).
“He’s still keen in the mornings at trackwork but in time I think he can get 1,800m. For the time being we’ll keep him at Happy Valley,” Lor said of his four-year-old, who has now won three of his seven starts.
Rounding out the night, Zac Purton produced a masterful ride aboard the David Hall-trained Classic Posh from gate 12 to snare the Class Three Tai Shue Wan Handicap (1,200m), while Matthew Chadwick continued his unbeaten run aboard Harmony And Rich in the finale.
Me Tusi Yu-sak’s speedster set a track record on his way to victory in the Class Two Wong Chuk Hang Handicap (1,200m), with Chadwick now four from four aboard the five-year-old.