New best for Yiu as Mighty Giant impresses

Mighty Giant eases past the winning post under Zac Purton

By David Morgan, Hong Kong Jockey Club

Mighty Giant took another step up the ladder with an impressive performance in the Class 3 Dorset Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin today, Sunday, 19 April.

The win completed a treble for Ricky Yiu, a return that gave the handler impetus in his quest for a first champion trainer title. He ended the day with 51 wins, two more than his previous best tally of 49, which he achieved in the 2010/11 season.

Yiu headed home with a four-win cushion over his nearest rival Francis Lui at the top of the trainers’ premiership.

“People messaged me to let me know I’d broken my personal record,” Yiu revealed. “It’s a great achievement but if I win the premiership, then I’ll be more than happy.

“Winning these races today has given me a big kick, it’s put a bigger margin on Francis in second. I definitely believe I have a good enough string to go on and win the title.”

Mighty Giant (132lb) had his work cut out in the early stages under Zac Purton but had enough quality to settle third as Smoothies (121lb) and Thunder Stomp (118lb) set a strong tempo. The big four-year-old needed help to find his balance at the top of the straight but once he did he cranked through his gears and was a cosy two and a quarter lengths to the good at the wire, in a time of 1m 21.12s.

“He looked impressive in the end but he was hard work in the run,” Purton said. “They were too quick for him early, with the big weight he found it too hard to gather momentum at the start – the pace was on pretty much the whole way and the leader kicked for home early.

“Having worked early, off the bit mid-race and chasing early, it was a good tough effort to pick up and still get the job done. The best part of his race was the last 100 (metres), it was really the only time he got going.”

Yiu knows the Power gelding will be better over a mile but is likely to stick to 1400m for now.

“He’ll be up in Class 2 and it’s tempting to go to the mile but the move up in class and the step up in distance is a lot of work to do at once. Maybe we’ll stay at 1400 metres for one more race,” he said.

Earlier, Team Power gave Yiu his landmark 50th for the campaign in the Class 4 Norfolk Handicap (1400m). The handler, who has set the pace for most of the season, took race three, the Class 4 Somerset Handicap (1650m, dirt), with the reliable veteran Megatron who showed resilience in front under apprentice Alfred Chan.

Schofield’s hot streak continues

Chad Schofield nails a treble on Team Power
Chad Schofield nails a treble on Team Power

Chad Schofield is well on his way to smashing his personal best Hong Kong tally after maintaining an excellent run of recent form with a treble of his own.

The rider has registered a tally in the 30s in each of his four previous Hong Kong campaigns and this afternoon’s three-timer took him to 34 for the term, just four shy of his best ever 38, with 24 fixtures remaining.

“I’ve had a nice run for about two months now, it’s been nice and consistent and to get another treble is good – and for three different trainers too. I hope it can keep going,” Schofield said.

The South African, who spent much of his childhood and youth in Hong Kong and Australia, has now registered at least one win at each of the past eight Hong Kong race meetings.

His second three-timer of the year kicked off in the opener, the Class 5 Waterloo Handicap (1650m), with the Jimmy Ting-trained Wonder Express. He followed that with a determined front-running score atop Super Power Man for trainer Manfred Man in the Class 4 Kent Handicap (1400m, dirt).

Schofield wrapped up his trio one race later on the Yiu-trained Team Power. The inexperienced four-year-old overcame a bit of buffeting at the top of the straight to earn a breakthrough win at his fourth start.

“The pace wasn’t good and the field was very bunched,” Schofield explained. “I had one of the main dangers, Telecom Rocket, there on my outside and because they were bunched I needed to make some room, I tried to get him out but then a run opened up on the inside and I went back in. He’s a nice young horse.”

Treble for Moreira too

Joao Moreira makes it three on the day aboard Fantasy
Joao Moreira makes it three on the day aboard Fantasy.

Joao Moreira earned a gasp of breathing space in his tight tussle with Purton for the champion jockey title. The Brazilian collected a three-timer to take his running total to 104 as his rival’s sole win on Mighty Giant took him to 101.

“If I can keep on winning races like today I’ll be extremely happy,” he said.

Moreira completed his treble aboard the improving Danny Shum-trained four-year-old Fantasy. The 1.6 favourite powered over the top of the front-running Team Spirit to score by half a length.

“He’s a young horse and he’s going forward every time he goes out there to race. Danny said to me before the race that he’d put on better condition this time and he was 100 percent right. It’s a great training effort,” Moreira said.

The three-time Hong Kong champion jockey was off the mark early, driving the Caspar Fownes-trained Defining Moment to success in the Class 4 Suffolk Handicap (1800m). He then ensured that the 1.8 favourite Foodie Princess made it three wins from his last four starts in the Class 3 Essex Handicap (1650m).

Trainer Chris So revealed that Moreira’s feedback had been important in nailing this latest success.

“After he was second last time Joao suggested the horse is better at 1650 metres than 1800 metres so this time he went for the mile and he’s a very good dirt horse. When he won in Class 4 he was already clocking Class 3 times. In early May there’s another Class 3 1650m on the dirt, so we’ll aim him at that.”

Antoine Hamelin’s golden start to his Hong Kong career continued with a swooping late run to win the Class 3 Devon Handicap (1200m) on the Michael Chang-trained Mega Heart.

The Frenchman kicked off his contract seven days ago with a double on the Sha Tin turf, bagged his first Happy Valley success mid-week and this latest win proved the Sha Tin dirt track to be no problem either.

Dylan Mo enjoyed a sweet passage on the front-running Winner Supreme from gate 12 in the Class 2 Cornwall Handicap (1200m). The rider was about four lengths clear and already halfway down the home straight before he shook the reins and began to push on the talented Me Tsui-trained galloper.

The four-year-old secured his fifth career win by two lengths in a track record time of 1m 07.27s.

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday 22 April.

Author: iRace