The only race that Matthew Poon, who rode four winners on the programme, did not ride in on Wednesday night at Happy Valley was the third, the Class 5 Los Angeles Handicap (1650m), which resulted in the season’s first dead-heat victory between Me Tsui-trained Curling Luxury and Richard Gibson’s Empire Of Mongolia.
Curling Luxury (128lb) hit the lead at the top of the short Happy Valley stretch and looked home under five-pound claimer Jack Wong before the in-form Karis Teetan brought Empire Of Mongolia (113lb) with a flying run up the crown of the track. They hit the line wide apart, and the judge could not find a margin between the pair, both maidens before Wednesday night.
Teetan then added a second victory on Tony Millard-trained Super Form in the Class 4 New York Handicap (1650m), taking the Mauritian rider to eight wins for the season. The Azamour gelding had won a similar race fresh last season as a 93-1 rank outsider, but there was no big price on Wednesday night as he was sent out as the 4.5 second favourite.
“He found the right race tonight,” Millard said. “It wasn’t a particularly strong Class 4, and Karis is on top form at the moment, he rode a terrific race.”
Millard took training honours with a double of his own, and he has high ambitions for Class 2 Washington D.C. Handicap (1650m) winner Sichuan Dar.
“I will wait and see where his rating is, but I’m thinking he could be a type for the Sha Tin Trophy,” Millard said. “I’ll speak to the owner too and see how he comes out of it and then we’ll make up our mind but he could be a lightweight hope. I’ve been pretty happy with him, I like the way today he really fought on well. He’s only small but he’s tough.”
Sichuan Dar (No.8, in yellow) edges Classic Emperor (in green) and Friends Of Ka Ying (No.6, in pink) to take the Class 2 Washington D.C. Handicap, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
The Group 2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy (1600m) will be run on 22 October and could see the Not A Single Doubt six-year-old tackle G1 winners like Beauty Only, Helene Paragon and Werther under handicap conditions.
Elsewhere on Wednesday night, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s young members were cheering when Racing Club horse Young Empire, trained by Chris So, scored his first Class 3 win in the San Francisco Handicap (1200m). It was also a first win this season for veteran Eddy Lai.
Racing returns to Sha Tin on Saturday (16 September), with the 10-race card set to get underway at 1pm.