Determined to eclipse last season’s impressive debut performance, Pierre Ng moved to the top of the Hong Kong trainers’ championship with a double at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (18 October) to lead Francis Lui and Caspar Fownes in the 2023/24 standings.
Ng’s excellent campaign continued when the young handler struck with Tattenham’s upset victory for Antoine Hamelin in the Class 4 Flying Handicap (1200m) before combining with Harry Bentley to land the Class 4 LONGINES Cup Handicap (1200m) with Healthy Healthy.
With 11 wins and 14 placings from 11 meetings, Ng has quickly laid the foundations for another strong season after he saddled 41 wins in his debut campaign and holds sway over Lui, who also has 11 wins and 13 placings, and Caspar Fownes, who has 11 wins (including a dead-heat) and 15 placings. Danny Shum also has 11 wins so far this season.
“Definitely, it was our plan from the stable, the whole staff, to make a good start and the team has worked very well to prepare for these two months and hopefully we can achieve more and that it will better than last season,” Ng, 40, said. We’re just looking for better results – there is no target, no number – if we do better than last season, I’ll be happy.”
Starting at odds of 74/1, Tattenham was unplaced in six previous Hong Kong starts but the Hellbent gelding, who won at Cranbourne in Australia on slow ground as a two-year-old, clearly appreciated the rain-affected conditions at Happy Valley tonight with a tenacious performance.
“He’s been quite disappointing all the way but after the last run, we just managed to get him back to Conghua and get his gear (hood and pacifiers) off and we gave him a trial and today the track definitely helped and that’s what we want to see,” Ng said.
Ng’s brace was matched by Harry Bentley, who also triumphed on Alloy King for Jimmy Ting, despite injuring the middle finger on his right hand after being dislodged as Smart Leader left the barriers at Sha Tin on Sunday (15 October).
“The hand is a bit sore but I’ve been having a bit of rehab the last couple of stays and I’ve got it well strapped up and it’s not affecting me in my riding,” the Englishman said. “Under race conditions, when the adrenalin is running, I’m feeling good. It’s good to get a double on the day and win with a nice progressive horse (Healthy Healthy).”
Ting cut a relieved figure after Alloy King’s fourth success at the city circuit.
“That feels better. This season a lot of the horses, their form is not so good, their rating is too high and I’ve always been getting bad draws,” Ting said. “That’s why it’s been so bad but I hope that later it will be better. I hope the new horses can help make things better.
“He (Alloy King) is an honest horse. When his form is good and the barrier is good, then he will give you something.”
Ricky Yiu-trained Diamond Soars posted his fourth Hong Kong win, providing Matthew Poon with his first win of the campaign before David Hall extended his strong start to the season with veteran Yee Cheong Warrior’s third win over the 1650m course, this time under Hugh Bowman.
Hall slotted a double when Keagan De Melo drove Never Too Soon to victory in the second section of the Class 3 Speedy Handicap (1200m) after Beauty Mission broke through at his 26th Hong Kong start for Frankie Lor and Matthew Chadwick.
Outgate claimed a PP Bonus of HK$1.5 million by winning the Class 3 Racing Spirit Handicap (1650m) for Tony Cruz and Angus Chung. A four-time winner in England for Daniel & Claire Kluber, Outgate was making his sixth appearance for Cruz.
Danny Shum’s Copartner Ambition handled the rise to Class 3 with aplomb, surging to a narrow win in the first section of the Speedy Handicap (1200m) for Andrea Atzeni to continue the gelding’s consistent season. From only three appearances so far this term, the six-year-old has posted two wins and a second.