Horse Racing
New targets within reach for high-flying Hewitson

By Declan Schuster
30/05/2023 12:27

Lyle Hewitson returns after sealing consecutive doubles.
Lyle Hewitson returns after sealing consecutive doubles.

Lyle Hewitson heads to Happy Valley on Wednesday night (31 May) armed with six rides as he looks to satisfy his hunger for success amid a recent hot spell.

Fresh following two doubles from the last two race meetings, Hewitson – a three-time South African Champion Jockey (2017/18, 2018/19 & 2020/21) – is riding high on a wave of good form, one that he hopes to extend as he chases a new milestone across the season’s remaining 14 fixtures.

“45 wins I must get, but 50 I want to get – I’ll be pleased,” Hewitson said.

The affable South African has 40 wins in the bag and currently holds outright fifth in the championship table, pinning much of this term’s success down to those behind him.

“My support base this season has been much wider, I have had a lot of the local trainers supporting me and as well, I have struck up a nice relationship with David Hayes and continued with Douglas Whyte – there’s many more names as well and in Hong Kong you need it more than anywhere, which has been one of the highlights of the season for me – building a relationship base in Hong Kong,” Hewitson said.

Hewitson’s last four wins have come in tandem with four different trainers: London Luckystar (Francis Lui), Magic Phoenix (Jimmy Ting), Setanta (David Hayes) and Ching (Michael Chang).

The 25-year-old breaks from gate one aboard the Whyte-trained Savvy Nine (134lb) tomorrow night as he aims to guide the French-bred seven-year-old to drought-breaking success in the HK$2.9 million Class 2 Briar Handicap (1800m).

Savvy Nine strikes at Happy Valley.

“I think it’s a big advantage for him to have an inside draw, so that he can be in a decent position without too much pressure. I think he’s a horse that travels a bit smoother on the fence, so he has that in his favour.

“And on the plus side, from when I have galloped him and ridden him, I think his preparation and the way he’s going in his work this time around is one of the best he’s had for a long time. In terms of conditioning, he’s at his peak,” Hewitson said.

Savvy Nine’s one and only win so far in Hong Kong came in the 2021 G3 January Cup Handicap (1800m), however, his consistency across 41 starts in the city has seen him net HK$11.859 million in earnings and 12 placings – notably finishing second in the 2022 G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) behind stablemate Russian Emperor.

“Class 2 should be more to his liking and the fact that he’s in good health and he has things in his favour, suggests that he will be competitive,” Hewitson said.

Hewitson also rides Happy Angel, Shinkansen, Hearty Wish, High Percentage and C P Brave at Happy Valley, while this weekend (Sunday, 4 June) he readies to partner Flaming Rabbit in the HK$3.9 million G3 Lion Rock Trophy Handicap (1600m) after the pair was recently run down by a fast-closing Tuchel.

“He ran well, you always think what could have been but it was pretty daring and had I changed something would that have worked better? Who is to know now… but that’s in the past and this race is strong,” Hewitson said.

Beauty Eternal, Beauty Joy, Circuit Stellar, Tourbillon Diamond, Fantastic Treasure and Beluga are also expected to feature in the Lion Rock Trophy.

Wednesday’s (31 May) nine-race fixture at Happy Valley kicks off at 6.45pm with the Class 5 Tsun Yuen Handicap (1650m).