While Zac Purton was cutting a swathe through the Sha Tin card on his way to seven winners on Sunday, Harry Bentley was busy snaring the other three on his best day in the saddle in Hong Kong.
Victories aboard Majestic Star, Fire Ball and Packing Victory saw Bentley ring up his first treble in the city, and the Englishman was pleased things finally fell into place after a lean patch.
“It’s a good milestone to get my first treble here in Hong Kong, and to do it here at Sha Tin, and in some really good-quality races, is fantastic,” said Bentley, who took out the day’s richest race, the Class One Egret Handicap (1,200m), aboard Majestic Star.
“To win a Class One on the day is good enough without winning the other two, so I’m really delighted.
Great ride, @HarryBentley_! 👊— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) October 9, 2022
The Brit takes the HK$3.465 million Class 1 Egret Handicap as Majestic Star stalks the pace and overhauls his rivals, while red-hot favourite Campione finished fourth. @AtTheRaces | #HKracing pic.twitter.com/9qPs7JlKsF
“I don’t want to say it’s been a slow start because I obviously had a winner at the opening meeting, but the last few meetings I’ve had a few hitting the crossbar and that’s been a bit frustrating. It’s good to get some winners on the board. It’s good for the confidence.”
Packing Victory’s win came in the final event on the card, denying Purton a record-equalling eighth winner, but the Australian still walked away with his best-ever return.
“Zac is someone who rides with an awful lot of confidence anyway, so when he’s on a mission like that, it’s quite a force to ride against,” Bentley said.
Bentley’s victories aboard Majestic Star and Packing Victory both came for trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing, who has given the jockey 32 of his 55 rides this season to be by far his biggest supporter.
“Danny has been fantastic, and I really appreciate that he’s stood by me. To put me on some nice horses is great, so to convert them into winners is brilliant,” Bentley said.
Packing Victory’s success in the Class Two Swan Handicap (1,400m) was his first since New Year’s Day and a sign the horse might still be a chance to fulfil the promise that saw him sent off favourite in January’s Classic Mile before finishing last.
The five-year-old underwent a wind operation after his Classic Mile failure but has returned in fine fettle this term, finishing third first up before delivering on Sunday.
“He’s clearly got the ability, no doubt. I’m still getting to know the horse. I’ve ridden him plenty in trackwork ,but this was only my second race ride on him,” Bentley said.
“He’s not a horse who quickens. He’s a galloper, and it’ll be interesting to see what he does going forward.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he could go a bit further, depending on what Danny wants to do with him. I wanted to take his first run with a pinch of salt, and I was expecting him to take a step forward, which he’s done. I’d like to think he can take another step forward from this.”
Shum was pleased to see his patience with Packing Victory pay dividends.
“I told Harry, you have to ride him very smoothly. He’s a roarer, and he had to have the surgery, so I’m lucky the owner gave me some time,” said Shum, who ruled out any lofty targets, either at home or abroad, for his Class One all-weather track winner, Majestic Star.
“Hopefully, the Jockey Club will put on more high-rating 1,200m or 1,650m races [on the dirt]. If he doesn’t have a dirt race, I’ll move him to Happy Valley. Sha Tin is too hard for him – he still has left fore issues, so I have to look after him. He’s not a horse to travel. He’s too excitable.”