“He didn’t have a quick start today but he soon picked up, and, with the draw from gate one, we were able to take the early initiative and dictate the pace. Once he got to the front we were in total control.
“I ride him every day and he’s really settled into his stride now in Hong Kong. He’s shown improvement in his last three races and I think he can keep on improving,” he added.
Ng has enjoyed a late-season flourish of sorts thanks to the Tony Cruz-trained Time Warp’s hat-trick, this being the rider’s fifth win of the term. But the jockey, despite another confident display on his part, admitted to some pre-race doubts.
“Before this race I was a little bit doubtful about whether he could have that kind of performance at this level, but he’s gone and won easily, and I’d be hopeful that he can progress to be competitive in the better races – I hope I will still have the chance to ride him next season,” he said of the 3.7 market third choice, a back-to-back winner at Happy Valley before returning to Sha Tin for this, his 10th Hong Kong start.
“I did wonder if this horse was a Happy Valley specialist after his two wins there, but after today he showed that he can handle the Sha Tin track well, too,” he added.
“It’s been a good end to the season for me. I just keep working hard and thankfully Mr. Cruz has given me an opportunity on this horse.”
The John Size-trained three-year-old Beat The Clock, the race’s 2.1 favourite was a further length and three quarters back in third under Joao Moreira.
Size and Moreira made amends in the next, the Class 3 Mr Award Handicap (1400m), as Hong Kong debutant Calculation, a Dundalk maiden winner for John Oxx pre-import, led from trap to line. It was the champion jockey’s 170th win this season.
And the duo struck again in the 10th race, the Class 3 Medic Kingdom Handicap (1200m), with the game three-year-old Ivictory.
Chang’s sweet sixteen
It was a nail-biting start to the day for trainer Michael Chang. The popular handler went into the 11-race card with 15 wins for the season, one short of the minimum required to avoid a first career strike. The Hong Kong Jockey Club operates a three-strikes-and-you’re-out system for trainers, with three failures to reach the minimum win or prize money (HK$18.5 million) benchmarks leading to a loss of licence. Chang had banked HK$16.89 million.