Reigning champions on the ball at curtain raiser
REPORT: HONG KONG Monday
A NEW Hong Kong racing season burst into life on Monday at Sha Tin but theold order remained intact as reigning champion trainer and jockey, John Size and Douglas Whyte, combined to win the traditional curtain-raiser, the HKSAR Chief Executive's Cup.
They teamed up to take the 6f event with Enthused, who was an impressive winner by one and three-quarter lengths from Scintillation and Prime Score.
“He was something of a bridesmaid horse for most of last season but he got stronger as the season went on and won very well with a big weight on his final run,” said eight-time champion jockey Whyte, who rode a double for Size at Sha Tin.
“He felt even better today; stronger and fresher, and he beat a good field quite easily in the end.
“On that kind of form, he could develop into a Group horse as the year progresses – particularly with John Size training him.”
Three-horse races are a rarity in Hong Kong, but the second edition of the Trainers Ride For Charity still produced an exciting climax as Me Tsui Yu-sak, on board Bodacious, edged out DerekCruz on board Bobo Win by a short head.
Tsui, who later prepared two winners, said: “I feel much the same as I felt last year after this race, even though this time I've won. I'm just happy to be able to contribute the HK$200,000 first prize to Unicef.
“I was always within a length of Derek and I was happy with how he was galloping. He hung a little in the finish so I gave him a tap with the whip and he just got up. It was quite a workout for me, but more of a barrier trial for the horse!"
Betting turnover for the opening fixture reached HK$827.84m with an on-course attendance of 51,439.
“We are happy with how the season started given the prevailing economic environment,” said HKJC chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges.
“Turnover was a little bit better than last year when we had significant bonus jackpots on offer and the attendance was the best in six years, taking out last year's exceptional figure for the tenth anniversary of the HKSAR handover.” (HKJC)