Soulmate continued his rapid rise up the ratings when gamely fighting off the frustrating Money Catcher to win the Class Two Bellflower Handicap (1,800m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.

The five-year-old has now won four of his past eight starts, winning this contest off a rating 31 points higher than when second at Sha Tin in October, and he saluted thanks to a fine front-running ride by the returning Lyle Hewitson, who missed the past two meetings through suspension.

“He’s a horse who leads a mile pretty comfortably, so that was always Plan A,” Hewitson said.

“I didn’t get the best break but I could see straight away that the speed in the first half-furlong wasn’t extremely quick, so I was able to punch up forward and once I got there, I was able to rate it nicely and allow him go through the gears.

“What I was really impressed with was that this horse didn’t give up and was really tough to the line.”

Trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai was delighted with Soulmate’s victory on his first attempt over 1,800m.

“He’s a lovely horse,” Yiu said. “It was a very exciting race, especially the last 200m – I thought he was going to get beaten but he kept trying and trying.

“He’s an easy horse to ride and he’s ever so honest. Once he gets to the front he never stops. He’s a lovely horse to train.”

Trainer Ricky Yiu and jockey Lyle Hewitson chat through the victory of Soulmate at Happy Valley.

Thanks to his huge improvement over the course of the season, Soulmate will find himself the second-best horse in Yiu’s yard behind Mighty Giant and he now heads off for a well-deserved rest.

“I’ll pack him up for the season now,” Yiu said. “He’s done a great job this season and he needs a bit of a longer break to get him ready for next season.

“He seems to enjoy the small track with the tight bends, it won’t be easy to find a race for him at the Valley next season but I’ll try.”

While connections will be delighted with Soulmate, trainer Frankie Lor Fu-chuen could be forgiven for feeling frustrated with runner-up Money Catcher, who was unable to get past the winner in the final stages.

Third in the Classic Cup and the Hong Kong Derby, Money Catcher has now placed in five of his past six starts and Lor will be hoping that his turn is just around the corner.

Meanwhile, trainer David Ferraris may have departed Hong Kong halfway through the season but his son Luke is determined to become a success and he showcased his talents in the saddle on a couple of horses formerly trained by his father.

Just half an hour after Ferraris narrowly missed out on victory when Surrealism was beaten a short-head by Lucky Diamond in the Class Four Hibiscus Handicap (1,800m), the rider prevailed by the same distance when Stoicism got up in the final strides to win the first section of the Class Four Dandelion Handicap (1,200m).

David Hall and Joao Moreira are not the most regular of collaborators but they are always a combination to keep a close eye on when teaming up.

Moreira steered Hall’s Sun Of Makfi to success in the Class Four Geranium Handicap (1,650m), with the victory taking them to four winners from 12 starts this season.

The Magic Man went on to complete a double in the second section of the Dandelion Handicap when the Lor-trained Excellent Peers followed up his recent success, while Lor brought up a brace of his own when Be Ready won the second section of the Class Three Calla Lily Handicap (1,200m).

Be Ready was ridden by Zac Purton, who matched title rival Moreira’s two winners after an earlier success on Rise Brethren in the Class Three Camellia Handicap (2,200m).