Photo: The Hong Kong Jockey Club
It was a watershed day for Derek Leung at Sha Tin (1 October) as the homegrown jockey scored his first treble since 2011, capped off with a first international pattern win aboard Beauty Generation in the Group 3 Celebration Cup Handicap (1400m).
Beauty Generation’s shock win was the middle pin in his three-timer, the 29-year-old earlier taking the Class 3 Chongqing Handicap (1800m) on Tony Millard-trained Gorgeous King before sending National Day racegoers home happy after taking the last on odds-on favourite Pingwu Spark in the Class 2 Beijing Handicap (1200m).
“This is my first treble since around the time I was an apprentice and it’s not something I’m used to,” Leung said. “It’s a great thrill, and to win on Beauty Generation especially is something I won’t forget for a while.”
Leung lost his whip aboard Benno Yung’s Pingwu Spark (113lb) at the 150m, forcing the jockey to use his hand as a makeshift persuader in a desperate attempt to score – which he did, the grey holding off the late surge of Southern Legend (126lb) by a head.
“It was something I used to get fined for a bit – it was quite expensive!” he said. “But luckily it is not something I have done in a while. It worried me with Pingwu Spark though because he’s the type of horse who switches off and loses concentration when he hits the front. I had to use my hand to get the most out of him, and luckily he just held on.
“He is a nice horse, he had a light weight today but it can be tough the first time in Class 2. I’m excited to see where he goes from here.”
Leung now has four wins for the season.
Moreira joins elite group in 600 club
Jockey Joao Moreira joined an elite club at Sha Tin when he became just the ninth jockey to have ridden 600 winners in Hong Kong.
Moreira, who was riding for the third day in a row after a fruitless trip to Melbourne and Sydney, brought up the milestone on Chris So-trained A Beautiful in the Class 4 Nanjing Handicap (1400m).
“I’m very proud to have reached that figure,” Moreira said. “Hopefully, there is more to come, but it has been an amazing four years.”
Moreira, who has been a Club Jockey since October 2013, joined Tony Cruz, Gary Moore, Basil Marcus, Felix Coetzee, Gerald Mosse, Douglas Whyte, Brett Prebble and Zac Purton in the 600 club.
Hall relieved as Jing Jing Win scores on return
David Hall believes that getting Jing Jing Win, the sales topper from the 2016 Hong Kong International Sale, to return a winner in the Class 3 Shanghai Handicap (1200m) rates as one of the toughest tasks he has faced in his training career.
Jing Jing Win (133lb) had won his first two starts early last season before his form tapered off, and Hall admitted there were worries about the noted barrier rogue heading into race.
“He’s been quite difficult to handle, he can get himself quite worked up mentally and that carries through to his barrier behaviour,” Hall said. “If he ticks those boxes, then I think we can concentrate more on where his talent is, how far he can go through the grades and what distance he is best suited at.
“Last season, he had probably had enough at the finish. My staff has spent a lot of time, many hours, on him, trying to get him to relax. A lot of work goes into these sorts of horses and it can go one way or the other.
“Today, everything went beautifully – he paraded well, he wasn’t in the gates for too long which was a positive and he had the hood on, which seems obvious now but we didn’t do it until today. Hopefully he gets his confidence and there is more improvement in him.”
Jing Jing Win scored by a length over previously unbeaten Bravo Watchman (131lb) for So, with the trainer buoyed by the performance.
“He’s a big horse so he’s not the easiest to get fit,” So said. “He was also returning from knee surgery, so to perform like that first-up, I’m very happy.”
The day’s turnover of HK$1.414 billion was a new record for the National Day meeting, while a crowd of 32,636 braved intermittent rain throughout the card to celebrate the holiday at Sha Tin.
Source: The Hong Kong Jockey Club (Andrew Hawkins) ( ) Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong, racing resumes with a rare ( ) meeting at Happy Valley Racecourse as Oktoberfest celebrations commence at the city track. Declarations for the meeting will be made ( ).