Trainer Jimmy Ting was confident his private purchase Yee Cheong Baby would win at his Hong Kong debut and the Australian import did not let him down at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
The three-year-old, who was Group 3 placed racing as Neutrality in Australia, defied top weight of 133 pounds - under a confident ride from Zac Purton - to win around the city 1000 metres track at Class 3 level which is rarely done first time out.
“I’d have been disappointed if he hadn’t won,” said Ting, “on his track work and trials I thought he would win so I’m happy that he did. He’s a very big horse and a very fast one.
“I have no plan with him at the moment. There’re not many suitable races for him at Class 2 at the moment. So, obviously we’ll take him home and check his health and recovery and see what’s there for him later on. He’s a nice horse, I’ve had no problems with him and I’d hope that next time out, he can win again.”
Purton won earlier on the program on Enjoyable Success, for Michael Chang, and also aboard the Peter Ho-trained Le Terroir. His treble, a second in successive meetings, cements his commanding place atop the jockey’s premiership list with 107 winners and was the perfect tune up for Sunday’s FWD Champions Day fixture which will see him partner the world’s joint top-rated horse Beauty Generation in the G1 FWD Champions Mile.
Three up for Zac Purton on Jimmy Ting’s Yee Cheong Baby, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Ho strikes with early double
Trainer Peter Ho landed an early double at Happy Valley tonight (24 April) to take his tally to 27 winners for the season which propelled him in to the top ten on the Hong Kong trainer’s premiership table.
Ho won the opening Class 5 race with standby declared starter Great Son, ridden by Victor Wong, and doubled up with Le Terroir in the Class 4 Incheon Handicap who was astutely handled by Zac Purton.
After a lean run through late March, the city track has been kind to Ho who’s now landed five winners at the past three Valley meetings; having also claimed a double on 10 April and a single seven days later. That run is also notable for the trainer having won the opening race at each of the three meetings and he’s hopeful tonight’s winners can maintain their form.
Le Terroir broke through for his first win after four consecutive first four finishes and Ho believed he was close to breaking the win drought. “Every time of late he’s been knocking at the door. Zac (Purton) rode him two weeks ago and after that, I believed he would be winning in one or two runs. He’s a nice horse and he’s still maybe immature.
“Maybe in another run or two we will put the blinkers on and that will help him a bit more as well. Zac told me once he got to the front, his ears were pricked and he thought his job was done. I think long term he will be a miler, 1400 (metres) horse or a miler,” Ho said.
Great Son, who’d won last start at the 10 April meeting, was also open to improvement according to Ho. “He’s young, he’s only four and he’s been a late maturing horse. He’s put two together now and I think he’s still improving,” he said.
As to his winning opening race run, Ho said: “I think next week I will ask the Jockey Club to give me the first race,” he said.
Enjoyable Success, My Family (Me Tsui and Chad Schofield) and Loriz (Ricky Yiu and Derek Leung) were also first time winners tonight.
Victor Wong also lands a double
Victor Wong scored a second front-running win aboard the Paul O’Sullivan trained Planet Star, in the Class 3 The Korea Racing Authority Trophy Handicap, who like his earlier winner Great Son had to work early from gate ten.
It was a first victory in Class 3 for the Australian bred Planet Star and a 36th this season for Wong who sits a clear sixth on the jockey’s premiership table behind five senior riders.
Wong held his nerve when challenged by champion jockey Zac Purton’s mount, the favourite Fat Turtle and his five pound claim and a 14 pound advantage overall, at the weights, may well have made the difference according to O’Sullivan.
“I think the five pounds might have helped but Victor got him across and he rated him pretty well and did the job and the horse fought back pretty well. After his last start I gave him some hope of winning in Class 3 although I’ve always looked at him as a Class 4 horse but he’s found his niche around here. He jumped from the outside gate. Not sure we want to meet Fat Turtle again but it was a fair margin back to third,” O’Sullivan said.
O’Sullivan, a winner with promising galloper Band Of Brothers at Sha Tin on Monday, will saddle up people’s favourite Pakistan Star in the G1 FWD QEII Cup on Champions Day at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Dennis Yip strikes with another longshot
Last Wednesday night many punters were left astounded when The Full Bloom, trained by Dennis Yip, won at odds greater than 160/1 - returning a win dividend of $1677 and the trainer did it again.
Yip won the Class 3 Busan Handicap with Travel First who paid $1156 for a $10 unit (just better than 110/1). The eight-year-old gelding had been unplaced in his previous 12 city track starts but that counted for zero as he responded late to Ben So’s urgings to win by a neck.
Racing will continue at Sha Tin on Sunday for FWD Champions Day featuring three Group 1 races - the FWD QEII Cup, FWD Champions Mile and the Chairman’s Sprint Prize.