By Harry Troy, Macau Jockey Club
Bargain buy Pearl Green made it win number 13 in Macau with a convincing victory under apprentice Eric Cheung in Sunday’s Class 1 & 2 Handicap over 1500 metres, to take his prize money to over $5.5 million HKD.
Given a perfect ride in the very testing heavy conditions by the five pound claimer Cheung, Pearl Green was always in a handy spot in the run before being pumped by Cheung at the top of the straight. The good looking son of Fastnet Rock (Aus) soon after hit the front to race away for another fine win.
Pearl Green has been a real bargain buy for his owner longtime MJC supporter Mr. Chan Ming Wing who purchased the gelding on the advice of trainer K H Leong.
Leong was given a video of Pearl Green’s (Meadow Lane) two barrier trials as a colt at Randwick which on the surface did not look flash, finishing seven of nine and eight of nine in two Maiden 2YO trials at Randwick. However in his first trial he was only five lengths away from Capitalist who within a couple of months had won the 2015 Breeders Plate and then followed with the 2016 Magic Millions and the Golden Slipper of that year.
By this time the horse known in Australia as Meadow Lane who was originally an A$460,000 purchase at the 2015 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, had been gelded and was on the market. K H Leong liked him as a type and picked up the bay for A$50,000, a far cry from his original purchase price.
Right from day one in Macau Pearl Green showed talent, placing in two of his first three starts before going on to win five races straight. In one of those wins he clipped heels at the top of the straight with Brazilian rider Ruan Maia lucky to stay in the saddle. Maia picked the gelding up and in a miraculous bit of horsemanship weaved a passage between runners to race away for a three lengths win.
The following season the Derby Trial, The Macau Guineas and the Macau Derby, Macau’s Triple Crown all fell to Pearl Green who was then being partnered by another Brazilian Manoel Nunes. His Derby win had all the hallmarks of a top class racehorse after he struck bad interference in a rough run affair, before taking off deep under Nunes to avoid the traffic and pinch a winning break to win by a neck from Royal Garden.
Pearl Greens record now stands at 13 – 11 – 7 from 37 starts, only out of a place on six occasions. He is the perfect racehorse that handles sand and turf and both good and heavy tracks; in fact his wet track record reads 4-3-3 never out of a top three spot.
As the gelding enters his seventh year it’s not over yet with plenty more to come evidenced by Sundays win.
Pearl Green has not been the only bargain buy by K H Leong for Mr. Chan Ming Wing. In 2010 Leong paid A$50,000 for a Darley castoff that had won a Maiden at Mornington in six runs in Victoria. Originally a A$700,000 purchase by Sheik Mohammed at the 2008 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale, the horse named Gauteng went on to win 18 races in Macau; his last as a 12 year old as well as placing another 42 times and picked up close to $5 million HKD in prize money.
The win on Pearl Green gave apprentice Eric Cheung his 16th victory for the season after retuning late from injury. Cheung was a late starter in the business originally a trainee apprentice with the Hong Jockey Club 2006 batch. Once he completed his time unfortunately he was not able to secure an apprenticeship there; after five years as a track rider in Hong Kong Cheung still harbored a burning desire to become jockey.
He journeyed to Australia and after a spell with Toby Edmonds at the Gold Coast, then a short stint at Warwick Farm both as a work rider, he landed an apprenticeship with Gordon Yorke at Gosford.
Cheung got off to a dream start winning on his first race ride Radiologist at Coff’s Harbour in June 24th 2016. After 100 rides in NSW and 17 winners he encountered visa problems in Australia and returned home to his family in Hong Kong.
After a year away from racing Cheung was enticed back into the game by former Champion jockey and trainer Stanley Chin and he joined the stable as an apprentice in 2018.
With time off through injury Cheung has only really had a little over two years race riding experience, however he rides with a maturity beyond his years. He is quiet tall for a jockey at 170 cm (5ft 6 inches), but is reed thin going to scale at 110 pounds.
Due to his age of 29 years Cheung has been granted a freelance jockeys license for next season, but will still ride out his claim which makes him good value as he still has a five pound allowance until he reaches 75 winners. His tally at the present is 63 wins overall.