Pierre Ng continued an impressive start to the 2023/24 season and extended his lead in the Hong Kong trainers' championship with a double at Happy Valley on Wednesday night as 12-time champion trainer John Size moved to within one win of reaching the 1,500-win milestone in Hong Kong.
Ng took his tally to 16 wins with the successes of Spicy So Smart and Fortune Warrior to lead Danny Shum (14), Francis Lui (13), Frankie Lor (13) and Caspar Fownes (12) as the young horseman continued to build momentum.
“The horses are running brilliantly. Hopefully it stays that way,” Ng said after Spicy So Smart landed the Class 5 Big Wave Bay Handicap (1200m) under Antoine Hamelin and Fortune Warrior's clinched the Class 4 Middle Bay Handicap (1000m) for Karis Teetan.
Ng's advance came as Benno Yung's talented sprinter Son Pak Fu showcased his quality with victory under Jerry Chau, narrowly denying Size his 1,500th Hong Kong win.
Having only his 16th start, Son Pak Fu was rearward throughout but stormed late to cut down Size's Bundle Of Charm by a head.
“The draw (barrier nine) was not 100 percent right and also the situation in the race was terrible, so lucky he carried a light weight (119lb) and Jerry was patient,” Yung said.
“If he rushed and went quickly early, it would not have worked out.”
Douglas Whyte continued his outstanding streak at Happy Valley with Happy Trio's success under Luke Ferraris. With a treble at the city circuit last week and tonight's success, Whyte has posted eight of his 11 winners so far this season at Happy Valley.
“He (Happy Trio) would have been unlucky to lose, he had to get across from a wide barrier (nine) and he's been racing very true to form and he's done a good job,” 13-time champion jockey Whyte said.
“He's taken time to mature and develop and he's come a long way – he's a better horse this season.”
David Hall is hopeful Gallant Hero (135lb) can cope with the transition to Class 3 after the Hong Kong International Sale graduate weaved through a narrow gap for Brenton Avdulla.
“He really stamped himself as a horse to follow last season, putting three (wins) together,” Hall said of the five-year-old. “I think mentally he's getting a bit better and a lot big stronger as and with that win under his belt, it will hold him in good stead to go up to Class 3.”
Size bagged his first Happy Valley winner of the season when Zac Purton piloted A Americ Te Specso to victory.
The Per Incanto gelding's triumph left Size with 1,499 Hong Kong wins overall, a figure bettered only by John Moore's 1,735.
“We've started to build a little bit of momentum now. I've got a few of the newer horses coming up and trialling shortly, so as long as we building a bank with these ones, hopefully the second half of the season the new horses will come through,” the Australian said.
Angus Chung celebrated his first win as a five-pound claiming apprentice when Beauty Glory led virtually throughout for Tony Cruz. Chung, 27, had his claim reduced from seven pounds after notching his 45th winner at Sha Tin on Sunday.