It’s been a tough season for trainer Peter Ho Leung but a rare Griffin winner at Sha Tin on Sunday lifted his spirits.
Dashing Triumph was unheralded in the market ahead of the Tung Wan Shan Plate (1,000m) but he lived up to his name when staying on strongly inside the final 200m to deny favourite Lucky Banner and win on debut under Dylan Mo Hin-tung.
The victory was not a surprise for Ho despite Dashing Triumph being sent off at $28, with the trainer revealing that he had told the owners before the race that the galloper would post a decent performance.
“This was what I was expecting because before the race I spoke with the owner and said ‘this is a nice horse, he does everything all right, no headaches for the trainer and he’s always willing to try’,” Ho said.
“After his 800m trial [on May 10] he woke up – he knows the game already – and this was not a strong field, that’s why this is not unexpected at all.”
Dashing Triumph’s victory was Ho’s first Griffin race winner for 23 years and his first debut winner since Trendy World in December 2014 and came in a week in which Ho was put on notice by the Jockey Club’s licensing committee.
With this being just Ho’s 11th winner of the season with only nine meetings remaining after Sunday, he is struggling to reach the minimum requirement of 16 victories for those without a Conghua stable and he is on course to receive a strike for the second straight season.
Failure to meet the benchmark will mean he must provide a written explanation for his poor performance at the end of the season and he may have his licence withdrawn if he doesn’t meet the minimum standard again.
For those keeping score at home, Dashing Triumph was Peter Ho's first griffin race winner for 23 years & his first debut winner since Trendy World in Dec 2014 #HKRacing— HK Winning Factor (@HKWinningFactor) June 12, 2022
Michael Chang Chun-wai also got in on the act on a good afternoon for under-fire trainers, winning the Class Five Shouson Hill Handicap (1,600m) with Star Of Glory after receiving the same Jockey Club missive during the week.
This win was also Chang’s 11th of the season, two more than last term, and came after his five-year-old was given a fine ride by Jerry Chau Chun-lok.
Breaking well from stall 12, Chau got a good early position on Star Of Glory to sit a couple of lengths off leader Shiny Two before kicking clear turning into the home straight and running out an easy winner by nearly two lengths.
“I’ve been trialling him and he has improved and felt sharper every time,” Chau said. “I was confident he could run a good race and he did. The pace today was slow and he was able to have a breath on the turn and then he picked up very strongly.”
After breaking Matthew Chadwick’s record for most winners by an apprentice in a season with 58 victories last term, Chau has found things more difficult this season but he is now up to 29 winners for the season after he followed Star Of Glory’s victory with a double aboard Sunny Boy, who made all the running to win the Class Three Nam Long Shan Handicap (1,200m).
Me Tsui Yu-sak is another trainer who could be asked to provide a written explanation for his season but he is now up to 16 winners following the victory of Super Axiom in the Class Four Sai Wan Shan Handicap (1,000m).
The four-year-old was following up a win over the course and distance at his last start and brought up a double for Mo, who is now up to nine winners for the season, two more than last term.