It was a frustrating four weeks for trainers and owners of horses stuck in Conghua but there were three triumphant returns at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
Namjong Sings had been forced to miss intended races on March 27 and April 3 following an extended stay in China as a result of the delay in reopening cross-border travel due to Covid-19 restrictions and he had been back in Hong Kong for just five days before saluting in the Class Three Cha Kwo Ling Handicap (1,200m).
Danny Shum Chap-shing’s runner had signalled his well-being during his time away from the city when winning a Conghua trial by five and a half lengths last week and that victory clearly got him ripe for this as he burst from the stalls and made all the running under Alexis Badel.
Gorytus was another of the returning Conghua heroes when completing a Shum treble in the Class Three Hang Hau Handicap (1,650m).
The four-year-old had last been seen in the Classic Cup but made a winning return to handicap company to supplement Shum’s success with Namjong Sings and Packing Famous, who completed a treble for Joao Moreira in the second section of the Class Four Tseung Kwan O Handicap (1,650m).
Horses saluting after making their Conghua comeback made up a third of the winners on the card, with Super Mission producing a strong finish to easily take out the Class Four Tiu Keng Leng Handicap (1,200m).
Towards the rear early, he appeared to have plenty to do turning into the straight but showed a decent turn of foot under Derek Leung Ka-chun to swoop down the centre of the track and win by a length and a quarter to earn himself a rise into Class Three company.
Elsewhere on the card, Chris So Wai-yin was thrilled to celebrate his 300th winner as a trainer on his way to recording a double.
It was Copartner Era who brought up So’s landmark success when Vincent Ho Chak-yiu managed to avoid a fierce battle for the lead before staying on strongly down the centre of the track to beat outsider Reach Goal by a length in the first section of the Class Four Tseung Kwan O Handicap (1,650m).
The trainer was delighted to reach his winning milestone and was happy to get the opportunity to reflect on a 25-year journey working with horses.
“I’m very happy, honestly. I’ve been training for nine seasons, so I’m getting about 30 wins a year but Hong Kong training is very tough, very competitive,” So said.
So outlines his chances as he eyes Valley kick-start for second year running
“Since 1997 when I started from being a riding boy to 2013 to becoming a trainer, to now have 300 wins is fantastic.”
Copartner Era’s victory was So’s 20th of the season and he didn’t have to wait too long before entering the winner’s enclosure again as Super Commander ran out an impressive winner of the Class Four Po Lam Handicap (1,000m) to bring up a double for Badel.
Always prominent from a good draw in stall three, the Frenchman had Super Commander perfectly positioned on turning into the straight and held off the fast-finishing Faribault and the unlucky Gorgeous Vitality, who was forced to weave a troubled passage from last turning into the straight.
Tough as, Super Commander! The Vercingetorix five-year-old scoots along the inside for @AlexisBadel who collects a double. ✌️ #HKracing pic.twitter.com/KOwgFZSt6U— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) April 20, 2022
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Jockey Club has announced that all off-course betting branches will be reopened from Thursday.
The shops will be open from noon until 6pm on non-racedays but will remain closed on days when racing takes place.
Anybody entering a betting branch must meet the vaccination requirements of the vaccine pass and are required to scan the LeaveHomeSafe QR code and present their vaccination record in accordance with the vaccine pass requirements.