Horse Racing
Wong leads the charge at Happy Valley

By David Morgan
31/01/2018 23:54

Jack Wong lands a brace on the John Size-trained Dinozzo.
Jack Wong lands a brace on the John Size-trained Dinozzo.

Jack Wong led a charge of homegrown riding talent among the winners at Happy Valley tonight, Wednesday, 31 January. The first six contests on the eight-race card fell to jockeys who earned their ‘spurs’ at Hong Kong’s Apprentice Jockeys’ School.

Wong set the ball rolling in the night’s opener atop Winning Supreme and claimed his brace in the fifth event, the Class 2 Siu Sai Wan Handicap (1650m), in tandem with the John Size-trained Dinozzo (128lb).

“Dinozzo had a good draw in two and I was able to follow the best horse in the race – he settled there very easily,” Wong said after the 7.7 chance had stalked the front-running race favourite, The Golden Age (129lb), and kicked on to hold runner-up Marvel Hero (132lb) by a comfortable length and a quarter. The winning time was 1m 39.18s.

“Once we turned into the straight, there was plenty of room for him to lengthen and he ran strongly through the line for me. He was good,” the apprentice added.

Dinozzo’s win was the 24-year-old’s first from seven rides this term for Size, for whom he has also collected a pair of second-place finishes. Wong notched one win from five for the champion trainer last term.

“Mr. Size has been in contact through the season, it’s just a great opportunity to ride for him, I’m grateful to him. He has lots of good riders riding for him, so it gives me confidence that he gave me this horse to ride tonight,” Wong said. 

The Irish-bred Dinozzo is engaged for a quick back-up in this weekend’s feature at Sha Tin, the G3 Centenary Vase Handicap (1800m).

Wong’s 5lb claim was a handy relief too for the high-weighted Winning Supreme (126lb), trained by his boss, Me Tsui. That win atop the 8.7 shot was the rider’s first since 1 November, having returned to action only last Sunday after a near three-month lay-off due to a lower back injury sustained in a race fall.

“It’s a very good day – I knew I had some good rides tonight so I did everything to get myself back in top form,” he said. “It was quite tough – it just took time. The school helped me and Felix Coetzee has given me great support with his training programme – they helped me maintain my fitness.”

Wong celebrates after taking the opener on Winning Supreme.
Wong celebrates after taking the opener on Winning Supreme.
Race fans congratulate Matthew Chadwick after Applause’s fast-finishing success.
Race fans congratulate Matthew Chadwick after Applause’s fast-finishing success.

Matthew Chadwick took the night’s trophy race, the Class 4 Hong Kong Football Club Centenary Cup Handicap (1200m), thanks to a late charge from the Derek Cruz-trained Applause. The white-faced chestnut flashed through the final 400m in 22.57s.

That took Cruz’s tally for the term to an admirable six. The handler has only 21 horses in his stable at present, five as yet unnamed, and this latest score was his first since 23 December. 

Derek Leung was on the mark for Francis Lui in race two. The G1-winning rider – last season’s recipient of the Tony Cruz Award, handed to the campaign’s leading homegrown jockey – took the 1800m Class 5 on the 9.6 chance Wonderful Chaser.

The Lui stable enjoyed a quick double when another past champion apprentice, Vincent Ho, completed an accomplished ride aboard Win For Charity (9.6) to grab a nose victory in race three, a 1650m Class 4.

Local veteran Eddy Lai got in on the act in race six. The 44-year-old grabbed his first victory since 11 October when the Michael Chang-ridden Razor Quest (20/1) galloped on gamely to edge out race favourite Bullish Smart in the Class 3 So Kon Po Handicap (1650m).

Brett Prebble ended the homegrown crop’s dominance in the penultimate event and took his personal Hong Kong haul to 799 wins. The Australian hoop delivered the Dennis Yip-trained Super Fluke (4.9) with a punching drive to hold 2/1 favourite California Whip by a head in the Class 2 Southorn Handicap (1200m).

California Whip’s reversal meant that champion jockey Joao Moreira ended the night with five seconds but without a win.   

The final contest, a 1200m Class 3, went to the Tony Millard-trained Bold Stitch (119lb). In-form Frenchman Alexis Badel showed his strength in forcing the 4/1 chance to a head verdict over Back In Black (120lb).

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday, 4 February.