Hugh Bowman continued an impressive start to the 2023/24 season with a treble at Sha Tin on Sunday as Angus Chung, Ellis Wong and Jerry Chau figured strongly to underline the potential of Hong Kong's home-grown jockey pool.
Bowman boosted his tally to six wins for the season to lead six-time champion Zac Purton (four) and Luke Ferraris (three) after slotting a winning treble, a second, two thirds, a fourth and a fifth from eight rides.
“I had some nice rides. I thought all eight could run first-four and that's what happened with the exception of Lean Hero – I'm very proud of all their efforts,” Bowman said.
“I'm thankful for the support, it's been a good start to the season. I'm fit and healthy and well and I'm hoping I can keep the motivation going.”
Bowman saluted on Ricky Yiu's Sure Joyful, Manfred Man-trained Chiu Chow Brother and closed the meeting on Superb Boy – an achievement which shunted Francis Lui to the head of the trainers' championship with his fourth win of the campaign to lead Manfred Man, Caspar Fownes and Danny Shum, who all have three victories so far.
Bowman's spree came as Chung, 27, made the most of his 7lb allowance to snare a race-to-race double on Pierre Ng's I Give and Dennis Yip's Super Winner after Chau had triumphed aboard Chris So-trained Pakistan Friend.
Wong, 22, set the tone as Kurpany upstaged short-priced favourite Dream Winner before Jerry Chau joined a winning fray as nine-year-old Pakistan Friend, a Hong Kong International Sale graduate, reeled off his third victory in a row.
Chung was delighted after converting six rides into a brace.
“It's been a good day and I had some very good rides. The horses are fit and strong at the beginning of the season, so they deserve to win. I try to ride as well as I can, talk to the trainers and owners and try to get more good rides,” Chung said.
Wong, 22, engineered an upset triumph by leading throughout on Caspar Fownes-trained Kurpany, clocking 56.07s as favourite Dream Winner finished fifth of five runners under Vincent Ho.
Wong cleverly exploited his 10lb allowance as Kurpany (123lb) downed Whizz Kid (129lb) and Carroll Street (124lb), blazing from the 800m to the 400m in 20.75s to have all his rivals under pressure before surviving a late charge from Whizz Kid to prevail by a head, to the obvious delight of four-time Hong Kong champion trainer Fownes.
“I'm very happy because it's my first Class 2 winner and especially because I won it for my boss (Fownes),” Wong said. “I jumped easy and let the horse do it himself. He gave me such a strong finish.
Kurpany once reached a career-high mark of 110 and contested the 2022 Group 1 Chairman's Sprint Prize (1200m) but had been winless since January, 2022 after suffering a variety of ailments.
“He's a fit horse and the kid (Wong) did a good job, so it's just nice to get a winner,” Fownes said.
“I got him in the bottom of Class 3 and took him all the way up to well into the 100s (ratings) and like anything in Hong Kong, they get to a mark and then they start to come back down. He's come back down and he's summered well. He's had quite a few problems and we've had to get him over that, which is always hard work to bring a horse back from injuries.”
Luke Ferraris attributed his strong start to the season to improved weight and stronger support from trainers and owners after the South African partnered Fownes-trained Killer Instinct to victory.
“My weight is a bit better this season and the support has been better, too,” said Ferraris, who rode briefly in Australia during the off-season.
“I've had better rides and I've been able to capitalise on that. Riding in Australia and seeing what a great facility the Lindsay Park stables are was also a great experience.”
Manfred Man-trained Self Improvement claimed the first HK$1.5 million PP Bonus of the season when the Deep Field gelding won under Purton.
Man then combined with Bowman to continue the Australian's bright start to the season with Chiu Chow Brother, who notched a third Class 5 victory over 1400m.
Chris So lauded Chau's effort to trial Pakistan Friend at Conghua before the evergreen veteran claimed victory.
“The old man, he's so good. His trials in Conghua were really nice. Jerry went up to Conghua and asked if I had any trials. I said ‘this one'. He trialled really nicely even at 1000m, he finished very strong,” So said after registering his opening win of the season before David Hayes combined with Karis Teetan and Lucky Encounter.