Duke Wai took his career earnings to more than HK$12.5 million when coming out on top in a tight finish to win the Class One Silvermine Bay Handicap (1,200m) on the dirt at Sha Tin on Wednesday night.
The six-year-old was having only his second run on the all-weather track and got up late to win by half a length from Silver Fig in a bunched finish, with just three-quarters of a length separating the first four home.
Trainer Paul O’Sullivan was delighted with his money-spinner and would like to have a stable full of horses that display such a willing attitude.
“He’s the sort of racehorse that every owner in Hong Kong would like to have,” O’Sullivan said. “He’s no superstar but he just puts it all on the line week in, week out.
“He’s done his job now. He could have been one of those horses who could just as easily have gone all season winning a lot of money but never winning a race and I’m glad he got his birthday today – he got a beautiful run and everything panned out for him.”
With a lack of dirt races at this level, Duke Wai will be forced back to the turf for the remainder of the season and O’Sullivan has already identified the next target.
“There are a couple of 105 races left and there is one next month he could go to. There is also [the Group Three Sha Tin Vase] the month after.”
O’Sullivan was unlucky not to get a double on the card when Wisdom Patch had nothing go his way in running before finishing second to Masterwork in the Class Five Clear Water Bay Handicap (1,200m), and he could now be forced back up in grade without winning.
“He’s been unlucky the last two now,” O’Sullivan said. “Things now just depend on the handicapper and I trust [Nigel] Gray will get it right. I’ll send him a little message on behalf of Wisdom Patch, but I send him a lot of messages.”
While O’Sullivan just missed out on a double, fellow trainers Dennis Yip Chor-hong and Me Tsui Yu-sak had better luck, with both getting a couple of winners.
Yip found success early on the card when favourite Flying Dragon helped to end Zac Purton’s long losing run on the dirt in the second section of the Class Four Hap Mun Bay Handicap (1,200m).
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The gun Australian had gone 32 rides without a win on the all-weather track and booted home his first victory on that surface this season when the $2.15 favourite scooted clear of the field in the home straight.
That victory completed Yip’s double after likeable veteran Crown Avenue picked up his eighth career win in the Class Five Cafeteria Handicap (1,650m).
He was partnered to success by Blake Shinn, who now heads into the ride on Russian Emperor in the Group Two Chairman’s Trophy on Sunday full of confidence after this success aboard the gallant old-timer.
Shinn is growing in stature in Hong Kong this season, winning two Group One races, and this victory was his fourth win at the past five meetings.
In Crown Avenue, Shinn had a veteran partner who showed he still had a turn of foot to call on when sprinting through a gap inside the last 200m to beat favourite Speed Force and take his career earnings to nearly HK$7 million.
Tsui struck first when Masterwork was the chief beneficiary of Wisdom Patch’s bad luck and his double was brought up when Happy Tango bounced back to his best form to register his second dirt win in the first section of the Class Four Hap Mun Bay Handicap (1,200m).