Jerry Chau doubles up as Son Pak Fu collects Rotary Centenary Challenge Cup
By Declan Schuster
Jerry Chau maintained a sparkling run of form at Happy Valley with a brace tonight (Wednesday, 15 February) capped by victory aboard Son Pak Fu in the Class 4 Rotary Centenary Challenge Cup Handicap (1200m) for trainer Benno Yung.
Sealing a first double for the 2022/23 season, Chau now boasts 14 wins for the term headlined by four from his last 13 rides – and through February – at the city circuit.
“I’m getting more quality rides and I’m getting more support, so I’m very happy now and hopefully I can continue to get more,” Chau said.
Chau has been in the plate for each of Son Pak Fu’s previous seven starts in Hong Kong and had his patience rewarded as the Fighting Sun gelding registered a first win in 1m 10.25s by one and three quarter lengths as a 10/1 chance over Island Surprise.
“I’ve ridden him since his first start and he was a difficult horse early on this season. He always tries to shift in and lay in, especially in the straight, but he’s started to improve now and today he only hung in a little bit. It was much easier to control him – he finished off well,” Chau said.
Chau kicked off his double aboard the Danny Shum-trained See U Again, edging out a brave Wind Speeder in the first section of the Class 4 Kwai Chung Handicap (1200m).
“I’ve got a good winning rate with Danny – he gives me good support and they’re always quality horses with chances,” Chau said.
Three out of Chau’s four wins across the last three Happy Valley fixtures have come in tandem with Shum, who also carried off with a double after G One Excellent roared to back-to-back wins in the Class 4 Tai Po Handicap (1000m) under Vincent Ho.
The win was Ho’s 32nd at Happy Valley this season – the most of any rider with 45 out of the scheduled 88 race meetings done and dusted.
Ricky Yiu moved to 31 wins and outright third spot in the trainers’ championship following a dazzling treble. Trailing only John Size (35 wins) and Frankie Lor (33), Yiu capped his trio as Nimble Nimbus strode clear to win the Class 3 Tsuen Wan Handicap (1650m) in dominant fashion under Hugh Bowman.
The win followed on from Diamond Soars – also ridden by Bowman – who prevailed in the Class 5 Sheung Shui Handicap (1000m) under a hands and heels ride by the Australian.
“Hugh Bowman is a tough jockey, a very good jockey and he really knows how to ride a good race. The draw helped, he’s (Diamond Soars) lightly raced and he just keeps improving little by little – as long as he stays sound he’ll pick another one up by the end of the season,” Yiu said.
Splendid Living returned the second win of Yiu’s trio in the second section of the Class 4 Sai Kung Handicap (1650m) under Harry Bentley. The Starspangledbanner gelding bounced to the lead before sauntering to an easy three length success – his first in Hong Kong after winning twice in Great Britain pre-import.
“He’s been knocking on the door for a long time, he was on a rating of 45. Not long after he arrived in Hong Kong he had a small chip taken out, it was only a small surgery (on his right fore fetlock) – it’s very common,” Yiu said.
14 out of Yiu’s 31 wins this term have come since the beginning of January this year.
Solid Impact prevailed at his 11th Hong Kong start this evening under Zac Purton for trainer David Hall in the Class 3 Tsing Yi Handicap (1200m). The Sweynesse gelding arrived in Hong Kong as two-time Group 3 placegetter in New Zealand.
“It’s been a little bit frustrating. He was beaten by a 93/1 shot at Sha Tin one day and he nearly fell on the corner here another time. He’s a very consistent, very honest and genuine sort of horse so it’s been a little bit disappointing that he hasn’t been able to get a win but to get the job done tonight is very satisfying,” Hall said.
Luke Ferraris drove Smiling Time to a second win this season in the first section of the Class 4 Sai Kung Handicap (1650m) for trainer Jimmy Ting. The Oratorio gelding surged wide to upstage a gallant Eighteen Palms – the race’s short-priced favourite – by a short-head.
“He’s going really well at the moment, he’s been ultra-consistent and he probably deserves to get the win. He’s a tough horse, he’s honest – I earned my riding fee. He had 134 pounds, so it was a gutsy win – well done to Jimmy and his team,” Ferraris said.
Elzaam gelding Wonder Years landed his second course and distance win in the Class 5 Fanling Handicap (2200m) for Karis Teetan and trainer Douglas Whyte. The Irish-bred five-year-old outclassed Cable Speed by one and a half-length.
Hong Kong racing continues this Sunday (19 February) at Sha Tin.
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