A night of firsts for apprentice Poon at Happy Valley

Star apprentice Matthew Poon continued his strong start to his Hong Kong career with his first four-timer and his first Happy Valley trophy victory at the city circuit on Wednesday night.

“I thought I had the best book of rides I’d had in Hong Kong so far, so I hoped I could ride a winner or two,” Poon said after riding half of the winners on offer at Happy Valley. “Riding four, though, that’s great. What I am most proud of is that I felt I did everything right on these horses tonight, and that’s going to be good for me in the future.”


Poon dominated the first half of the card, winning the two sections of the Class 4 Chicago Handicap (1200m) aboard Dennis Yip’s Starlight and Derek Cruz-trained Good Companion before he won one of Hong Kong’s oldest races, the Class 3 Fakei Cup Handicap (1000m), on E-Super for Manfred Man.


However, it was the claimer’s win aboard the Danny Shum-prepared Inventor in the Class 3 San Antonio Handicap (1650m) which caught the eye. Poon was trapped wide near the rear early on the six-year-old, but when the pace slowed to a crawl, he slid forward gradually before assuming the lead just inside the 700m.


Apprentice jockey Matthew Poon completes his four-timer aboard the Danny Shum-trained Inventor in the Class 3 San Antonio Handicap, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club



“That was a great ride,” Shum said. “It was a slow tempo early and he was in the right spot to be able to take off, but he still timed it very well. It takes confidence to make that move and he’s riding with plenty of confidence.”


It was a fortuitous booking for Poon, who wasn’t the original intended rider for Inventor (125lb).


“Originally, I had Nash (Rawiller) down to ride but he had already committed to another horse,” Shum said, with Rawiller finishing a closing second aboard Divine Boy (130lb). “So instead I booked the boy to take some weight off. That’s his first win for me and hopefully there are more wins to come.”


And Poon said that it was Rawiller’s win on Inventor in February that provided a template on Wednesday night: “I watched the replays and Nash did something similar and won on him so I was confident he could keep going, although he was fresh too so that was in my mind.”


E-Super had faced a long recovery period, suffering a leg injury after winning twice early in 2016, and he went winless through 10 starts last season. However, Man says he always believed he could get him back into the winners’ circle.


“He has had issues but he has ability,” the trainer said. “Fresh was going to be best for him, especially over 1000m, and it was a good ride from the kid, just what you want with the claim.”