Millard basks in Glory as Schofield returns to winners’ circle and Callan claims treble
Trainer Tony Millard’s supreme confidence with new stable acquisition Resplendent Glory proved well-founded when the four-year-old took out the Class 3 Kowloon Tsai Handicap (1200m) at Happy Valley on Thursday night (20 April), one of two winners for the handler at the meeting.
Resplendent Glory (122lb) had been out of action for 10 months, having raced twice for Francis Lui last season. The Star Witness gelding joined Millard in early March, and had particularly caught the eye in a 1000m turf barrier trial at Sha Tin on 11 April. It was that trial, as well as his morning gallops, that had the South African horseman arriving at Happy Valley with high expectations.
“His work was that good that I thought, if he didn’t win tonight, he just hasn’t got it,” Millard said of Resplendent Glory, who raced away for a length and a half victory in a time of 1m 9.89s. “His barrier trial was excellent. We just had to slim him down a little bit, he was a little bit on the fat side, but certainly he won like a horse who could win another one. We are very happy.
“He looked good when he arrived but he was still a little bit dumb, he just hadn’t seemed to click yet. We gave him a bit of work and a bit of schooling and he just seemed to change overnight. He had the perfect preparation leading into that.”
For rider Chad Schofield, it was his first winner since returning from a suspension. The 23-year-old’s last winner was also for Millard, when High Five won a Class 3 at Sha Tin on 19 February.
“It is my fourth meeting back but it has been two months since I rode a winner so it is good to be back and good to get it out of the way,” Schofield said, also noting the presence of his parents on track at the meeting. “Hopefully things can go on from here. I thought I’d been riding well, but I’d had five seconds since I returned which was very frustrating. Still, it’s great, especially because mum and dad are here for a week or so – it is always special when they get to see me ride a winner.”
Later in the night, Millard-trained Travel Comforts (118lb) made it back-to-back wins when he took out the Class 3 King’s Park Handicap (1000m) under 10-pound claimer Dylan Mo.
“He’s another horse who we got for a good price down in South Africa – he was only HK$120,000 at the National Yearling Sale down there,” the trainer said. “Dylan has a grasp for how the horse should be ridden, he has speed and if he’s just allowed to roll, he can find quite a bit.”
Millard was one of two trainers to snare a double, with Peter Ho also preparing a brace. He took the opening Class 5 Aberdeen Handicap (2200m) on Audacity (127lb) before adding the Class 4 Siu Sai Wan Handicap (1000m) with Mr Right (133lb), with Neil Callan legged aboard both horses.
“Mr Right, he’s the king of the Class 4 over 1000m here,” said Ho. “I think he’s now won four times in similar races and placed in a couple of others. It’s just perfect for him and now he is an expert. It’s just about placing him right.”
“Audacity, it is still less than a year since he first ran here, he’s still young. I thought it looked a good race beforehand but at about the 600m I was worried, he almost fell and wasn’t travelling well and I looked away. I think he will be a nice stayer who could even win up in Class 3.”
Callan made it a treble from just five rides on the night with David Ferraris-trained Chater Legend (132lb) thundering home to take the Class 3 So Kon Po Handicap (1650m) to end the card.
“He’s such a courageous horse, this guy,” Ferraris said. “When the speed looks questionable, as it did in this race, barrier one is such an asset and Neil was able to use it to perfection. He was able to get a nice trail, he peeled off at the right time, and it was a great ride from a jockey who really had his eye in tonight.”
Amazing Feeling for Gibson as maiden gets overdue victory
Earlier, Richard Gibson-trained Amazing Feeling gained a long-awaited victory under Zac Purton and finally shed his maiden tag at the 16th time of asking in the Class 4 Tin Sau Handicap (1650m).
Amazing Feeling (130lb) had been placed at his first three starts, including a second in the 2015 Griffin Trophy won by People’s Knight. As the other horses that finished in the first four that day made their way into Class 2 territory, though, Amazing Feeling was left languishing at the bottom of Class 3 and the top of Class 4, trying to get that elusive breakthrough.
“It has been frustrating but he’s finally done it and that might do him the world of good,” Gibson said. “But despite it all, he’s been one of the most consistent horses in my stable for the past two seasons. Today, he got the best draw he’s had in eight or nine runs so we always knew we were going to have a better chance.
“It looked as though he was going to win very easily after a brilliant ride from Zac, he got the nice trail, but in the end he had to throw the kitchen sink at him to get him over the line.”
Champion Jockey Joao Moreira returned from a two-meeting suspension with a win on Almond Lee’s Agiaal (129lb), who scored his first victory in three years in the Class 5 Kowloon Bay Handicap (1650m). Moreira’s fellow premiership leader, trainer John Size, also added to his season tally when Arm Runda (120lb) took the Class 3 Hong Kong Rugby Union Cup Handicap (1200m) under Olivier Doleuze.
Racing returns to Sha Tin on Sunday for a 10-race card, with the first scheduled for 1pm.
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Werther whisked through the mist at Sha Tin this morning with a business-like final gallop ahead of Sunday’s HK$20 million Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m) that reinforced John Moore’s opinion that last year’s winner is in the right zone to repeat the feat.