Hong Kong racing’s South African contingent were among those heading home happy from the Valley on Wednesday night with trainer Tony Millard and jockey Luke Ferraris among the winners.
Millard teamed up with Ruan Maia for two wins and the trainer has lofty ambitions for Above, who recorded back-to-back victories when landing the Class Three Fountain Palm Handicap (2,200m).
“If he can pick up another [race], he’d be a horse that I could go towards the Queen Mother [Memorial Cup] with and he wouldn’t be out of place in those type of staying races now,” Millard said. “He certainly has improved since I got him and that’s typical of stayers – they get better with age.”
Maia and Millard have been a fruitful combination to follow this season and Meridian Genius’ win in the second section of the Class Three Cedar Handicap (1,200m) was the partnership’s fourth win from 13 runners in 2021-22.
Millard is now up to 17 winners this term and is confident he’ll be in the winner’s enclosure more regularly going forward.
“It’s been tough,” Millard said. “I’ve had a lot of young horses which have taken time and are going to kick in now – some very nice horses.”
Luke Ferraris recalls Sha Tin childhood as he dreams of joining his father David
It’s been a difficult season for the youngest jockey in Hong Kong’s riding ranks but Ferraris, 20, is hoping his fortunes are on the rise after riding his first winner since December 22.
The youngster has had plenty to cope with after his father David retired from the training ranks and left the city early in the season and he had ridden just six winners before saluting on outsider Killer Instinct to win the second section of the Class Four Larch Handicap (1,200m).
“It’s been a bit of a dry patch but I’m very grateful to Caspar [Fownes] for the support and hopefully this win gets the ball rolling,” Ferraris said. “He looks like a smart horse, still a bit green and that win will give him confidence.”
Zac Purton continues to close in on Joao Moreira at the top of the jockeys’ championship with the gap now down to five after a treble for the Australian rider.
Purton was first successful when The Runner held on by a nose to win the first section of the Cedar Handicap.
His trainer Frankie Lor Fu-chuen was surprised when The Runner’s number appeared in first place on the board as, like many onlookers, he felt he had just been beaten on the line.
Tough as teak, The Runner! 💪 @zpurton gets the son of Snitzel over the line in a tight finish. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/3mz7N7RnZ2— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 16, 2022
“It looked like we had lost but when I walked out, I saw the photo finish,” Lor said. “When Zac came back he said ‘I thought I had lost’, so today is lucky.”
Purton’s last two winners were for trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai, who was also in treble-winning form.
The duo first teamed up to strike with Bulletproof, who got his reward for a string of placed efforts when coming out on top in the first section of the Class Four Spruce Handicap (1,650m), before they closed out the card with the victory of Soulmate in the Class Three Cypress Handicap (1,650).
Yiu’s first winner came when Villa Fionn won his second race in three starts in the second section of the Spruce Handicap.
Well done, Dylan Mo! 🙌 The 28-year-old collects his first win back from injury aboard Multimore for trainer Benno Yung. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/pA1zrETpXy— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 16, 2022
Jockey Dylan Mo Hin-tung rode his first winner since breaking his toe in a fall at the Valley last month when Multimore returned from nearly a year off the track to spring a surprise in the Class Five Walnut Handicap (1,000m).
“I’m feeling good and it’s always good to ride a winner,” Mo said.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Jockey Club announced a HK$10 million donation to the city’s Community Anti-Coronavirus Link on Wednesday.
“At this critical moment in the pandemic we must all join hands together, mobilising our resources to help those in need,” Jockey Club chairman Philip Chen Nan-lok said.