Trainer Me Tsui dominated proceedings at Happy Valley on Wednesday night as he won four of the first five races on a night where jockey Zac Purton also brought up his century of victories for the term with a double.
Tsui scored his second four-timer of the season and just his second Happy Valley quartet ever with the wins of Starlit Knight, Dragon Pioneer, Enormous Honour and Good For You. Notably, all four were partnered by different jockeys.
“I didn’t think I could get more than one or two wins tonight, so four is a big achievement for my stable,” Tsui said.
The night’s feature, the Class 3 St George’s Challenge Cup Handicap (1000m), went to the Tsui-trained Dragon Pioneer. Ridden by Joao Moreira, the Zoffany four-year-old was able to lead all the way for a length and a half triumph, his first in Hong Kong.
“The draw helped him a lot, having gate two made a difference,” the trainer said. “I’d put the blinkers on him for a few starts but he got too keen on the lead. I took the blinkers off and put on the hood and that was the trick. Also, Joao has great hands and you saw that here.”
Dragon Pioneer (left) races clear to win the night’s feature, the St George’s Challenge Cup, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Class 4 Lancashire Handicap (1650m) winner Enormous Honour had finished fourth at his last start on the Sha Tin all-weather track in a remarkable effort, given that his jockey that day, Alberto Sanna, dislocated his shoulder in the concluding stages.
“Last start, I’m not sure how Alberto still managed to finish fourth, even with his shoulder injury,” Tsui said. “I knew then that the horse was going well. Unfortunately, he did not ride tonight, but Neil Callan had won aboard the horse before and he seemed to have the key to him again tonight. He did surprise me by winning though.”
Good For You, a winner in Class 5 at the start of last season, has now progressed into Class 3 territory after his victory in the second section of the Class 4 Dorset Handicap (1200m). Five-pound claimer Jack Wong was the pilot.
“Jack did a very good job there,” Tsui said. “At the 300m, he had a choice to go outside or inside; he went inside. He took the risk. If he had gone outside, I don’t think he would have caught the leader and I wouldn’t have complained – it still would have been a good ride. Going back to the inside though was a great move and it shows the development Jack has made.”
In fact, Wong took both sections of the Dorset Handicap; earlier in the night, he produced a canny front-running ride on the Caspar Fownes-trained Nice Fandango to snare the first section.
The opener, the Class 5 Cornwall Handicap (1650m), went to Tsui’s Starlit Knight. Purton steered the Fath five-year-old, a Listed winner in Western Australia pre-import, to an easy three-length score.
“He had disappointed me when he arrived last season,” Tsui said. “He started on a high rating (77), but maybe that was just too high for him. Now he’s acclimatised and that was a nice win. I think he can win again up in Class 4 now that he has some confidence.”
Four winners for Me Tsui, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club