It was a night of riding doubles at Sha Tin tonight (Wednesday, 30 May) as four jockeys partnered a brace each. And while two of the protagonists were familiar faces Joao Moreira and Zac Purton, who struck a stalemate at the meeting in their quest to be crowned Champion Jockey, Chad Schofield and Jack Wong shared the spotlight with their own successes, to the delight of trainer Tony Millard.
Millard prepared a race-to-race double early in the night, and he could hardly have found two different horses to fill that brace in veteran Cloud Nine and emerging talent Shimmer And Shine.
Shimmer And Shine, ridden by Schofield, backed up a win on turf over the Sha Tin 1000m earlier this month by adding a dirt victory at his maiden attempt at the surface in the first section of the Class 4 Hap Mun Bay Handicap (1200m). Millard believes that the Showcasing three-year-old could be one of a number of young horses to fly the stable banner in the coming years.
“I think this could be a special horse,” Millard said. “He’s certainly come along the right way and I always thought that we could have an extra option with him in that he’s versatile and could run on the dirt. The way he won tonight, though, he could be something special – he did it three-wide, no cover, and he still had a bit at the end. It was a very gutsy win.
“I think we will put him away now and we will look at next season.”
Backed into 3.7 favourite, Shimmer And Shine defied a wide run near the speed to race to the lead at the 200m. His market rival Amazing Moment, ridden by Purton, loomed dangerously on the outside, but the bay responded well to eke out a three-quarter length win.
“I thought that run tonight was full of merit,” Schofield said. “He sat three wide, faced the breeze, hit the front very easily and when he was in front, he had a good look, but when Zac came and challenged him in the last 50m, he stuck his neck out and was always holding them comfortably.
“He was cannoned into at the start on his second run and spit out the back and finished well through them. We knew we had a nice horse as after that and he’s won his next two.”
Cloud Nine, the only son of three-time North American champion sire Tapit in training at Sha Tin, had disappointed in two previous starts on the dirt, but it was a case of third time lucky on the surface for the former Christophermarlowe as he produced a grinding one-length victory in the Class 4 Pui O Handicap (1800m) under Wong.