Orionids (114lb) lifted the trophy race at Happy Valley (Wednesday, 21 March) on a night when Derek Leung reached a milestone and double figure winners took out half the card.
Danny Shum’s charge was one of two favourites to salute on the eight-race programme. He did so at odds of 4.3 in the Class 3 Hong Kong Exchanges Challenge Cup Handicap (1200m).
Orionids’ triumph came at the fourth attempt this term, the gelding having returned to action in February after a 10-month absence. The strapping five-year-old suffered an injury to his near-fore tendon after securing a win over the distance at Sha Tin last April.
“He’s a big horse, and he’s very consistent, just look at his form, he’s an honest horse and a straightforward ride,” Shum said.
Jack Wong drove the chestnut down the inside fence, heading the front-running Gamechangers (124lb) close home for a half-length score. But that route to success was taken only after a flirtation with a shift away from the rail on the home turn.
“The trainer told me that I should have stayed on the rail and gone through, and in the end that’s what I did but I was just trying to keep the horse’s momentum and keep him comfortable – he’s a very big horse, 1300lb,” Wong said.
“He quickened and went through with some enthusiasm – he’s fit and he’s honest and I’m thankful they gave me a chance to ride him.”
Shanghai Master was the evening’s shortest-priced victor, scoring at odds of 3.4 for trainer Francis Lui. The four-year-old raced 10 times in Australia for three wins but was a Hong Kong maiden after nine starts before tonight.