Pierre Ng hopes Duke Wai's victory in the Class 1 Devon Handicap (1200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday will pave the way for a start in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint (1200m) on March 25, when the veteran could clash with fellow Hong Kong speedsters Sky Field and Sight Success.
“If we get an invitation from Dubai, we'll go to Dubai. I would love to see him run in a straight 1200m race because, in the past, he's run very well in straight 1000m races here, but there's no straight 1200m races here,” Ng said of the seven-year-old, who took his career earnings to beyond HK$18 million with his ninth win from 42 starts.
“If he doesn't (go to Japan), we'll go through the motions again, going for the Group 2 and the Group 1 races here because he wasn't invited to Japan.”
Given an uncomplicated run from barrier one under Jerry Chau, Duke Wai claimed leader Nervous Witness in the last 100m before fending off Courier Wonder to win by half a length in 1:08.26s.
“He got the inside draw this time. Jerry knows him well. He just had to wake him up in the early stages and let him travel. Around the bend until the 300m, he was travelling quite strongly, and he finished off very well. After the race, Jerry told me Courier Wonder was never going to get past him,” Ng said.
Chau slotted his 15th win of the season with his third success aboard Duke Wai.
“I have ridden this horse before and I know this horse. I was very lucky to get the position I did today and the horse travelled very well. I let him balance in the straight and the visor helped him a lot when he took the lead – he never wanted to stop,” Chau said.
Ricky Yiu continued an outstanding season with a four-timer to vault into outright second in the trainers' championship. In Melbourne for the Inglis Premier Yearling Sale, Yiu took his 2022/23 tally to 37 wins after the wins of Excellent Fighter, Colonel, Darci Joy and Adefill.
Excellent Fighter's blistering win in the Class 4 Cumberland Handicap (1200m) under Silvestre de Sousa ignited Yiu's sequence. Driven to the front from barrier 10, the Hinchinbrook gelding charged clear to seal his second win in four starts before promoted starter Colonel claimed the Class 5 Essex Handicap (1200m) for De Sousa.
Karis Teetan continued Yiu's spree by piloting Darci Joy to runaway success in the Class 4 Kent Handicap (1600m) before notching a double of his own aboard Adefill in the Class 3 Somerset Handicap (1200m, dirt).
Hong Kong Champion Trainer in 2019/20, Yiu's best haul of the season left him four wins adrift of championship leader John Size, who has 41 for the campaign so far.
De Sousa, who is third in the jockeys' championship with 37 wins behind Zac Purton (101) and Vincent Ho (50), praised the Yiu stable's stunning form.
“His stable is on fire at the moment. He's been having a lot of winners and I couldn't be more pleased to have the rides I had today for him,” De Sousa said.
David Hayes lavished praise on Derek Leung after his winning ride on Chiron in the Class 5 Cornwall Handicap (1650m, dirt).
“I must say Derek put on a masterclass there. He followed Hugh Bowman on (favourite) El Valiente and then when he went past him, he said ‘Thank you, Mr Bowman',” Hayes said, who landed a double for the second successive meeting when Lyle Hewitson guided The Multiplier to victory in the Class 4 Kowloon Tong Club Trophy Handicap (1200m, dirt).
Celebrating only his second Sha Tin dirt double, Hayes moved to 23 winners for the campaign with the brace, saying: “It's good to get things rolling. When they're running consistently, if you get the luck they start to win.”
Everyone's Delight prevailed in the afternoon's closest finish to clinch the Class 1 Norfolk Handicap (1650m, dirt) under Matthew Chadwick with only a short head separating the winner from Handsome Twelve with Apache Pass a neck away third.
Sidelined earlier this season with a leg injury, Chadwick completed a double with a clever ride to lead virtually all the way for Tony Cruz on Champion Dragon to snare the Class 2 Rutland Handicap (1800m).
Michael Chang slotted his ninth win of the season when Ching gave Hewitson a double with victory in the Class 3 Suffolk Handicap (1600m).