It’s been some week for Lyle Hewitson, who entered Wednesday night’s meeting fresh from his first Hong Kong double at Sha Tin on Sunday and went one better with a hat-trick under the lights at Happy Valley.
The South African rider had experienced a slow start after returning to the city in November with just five winners, all for trainer Douglas Whyte, before victory on David Hall’s Kung Fu Tea on Sunday sparked a two-meeting blitz that doubled his seasonal tally.
Forced to miss a month after fracturing his pelvis in a fall during the Hong Kong Sprint in December, Hewitson had been working hard to pick up some momentum and was thrilled with his hat-trick.
“Things are going well,” said Hewitson, who saluted with his final two rides on Champions Day on the weekend. “It took one or two [winners] just to get my confidence back up and, fortunately, I’m getting lots of rides that are worth coming to the course for and making the most of it.
“It’s been fantastic and I’ll never take anything for granted any more. I’m just going to keep accepting those opportunities and make the most of them until the end of the season and come back in good spirits for next season.”
Having started his book of rides at the Valley with a second aboard Day Day Rich, who nearly made all in the Class Five Yuen Yuen Handicap (1,200m) before being nabbed by the fast-finishing Casa Kingdom, Hewitson regained the winning thread with a successful front-running ride aboard World Famous in the Class Four Tsoi Tak Handicap (1,650m).
A portent for the rest of Hewitson’s victories, the Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained World Famous broke well from the stalls and failed to see another runner to win by three-quarters of a length.
Whyte has been a huge supporter of Hewitson and he trained the jockey’s other two winners, with both benefiting from glorious pacesetting rides in separate sections of the Class Four Tsap Tseung Handicap (1,200m).
Valiant Elegance followed up his recent Happy Valley success with an easy win in the second section half an hour before Xponential broke swiftly from stall one and stayed on strongly to give Hewitson a running treble and his fifth win in six rides.
Whyte was full of praise for his rider and backed him to continue his recent run of good form.
‘I’ve got to keep delivering the goods’: Hewitson out to continue winning streak
“Lyle is a hard worker and is riding very well,” Whyte said. “It was only a matter of time before things fell into place and he found his place among the winners. He’s certainly on a roll and it shouldn’t stop. He’s riding well.”
Xponential’s win also completed a treble for Whyte, who had earlier been successful when Wonder Years swooped late to land the Class Four Tsun Yuen Handicap (2,200m).
Anyone got a fire extinguisher?! 🔥 @LyleHewitson nails his third win in succession as Xponential toughs it out in front for @DJWhyteTrainer, who also lands his third for the card. @SAJockeyAcademy #HKracing pic.twitter.com/VuzNwvu8aI— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) April 27, 2022
Whizz Kid rounded off a fantastic first season when picking up his fourth victory in the Class Three Hawthorn Handicap (1,000m).
Whizz Kid’s rider Joao Moreira may have been forced to revert to Plan B as he had to take a sit when newcomer Jumbo Goal forced his way to the lead early but he got his mount rolling as the field turned into the straight to beat Special M by three-quarters of a length.
Trainer Tony Cruz revealed that this would be Whizz Kid’s final start of the season but he will hardly be rewarded for his consistency.
The favourite obliges! 🔥 Whizz Kid goes back-to-back in style for Joao Moreira & Tony Cruz. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/fhzESattda— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) April 27, 2022
“He’s a young, rising horse and he’s definitely an improving type,” Cruz said. “Even carrying top weight, he was two tenths of a second faster than when he won his previous race, so I’m pretty happy with his performance.
“He had to improve to win this race today so I’m very happy. We’re going to geld this horse and wait for next season.”
Jumbo Goal’s rider Keith Yeung Ming-lun was sent to hospital for treatment on potential toe fractures after his mount was squeezed up late and the rider’s foot clipped the gap in the rail at the winning post.