Supporters of Flying Ace will have shorter fingernails now than they did a few months ago and may also be on the search for new furniture after wearing out the edges of their seats following the unbeaten galloper’s latest win at Sha Tin on Sunday.
David Hall’s talented sprinter again had the nerves of favourite backers fraying when coming from the rear of the field to land the Class Three Freesia Handicap (1,200m) by a nose and extend his winning run to four.
Jockey Matthew Poon Ming-fai clearly has calmer nerves in the saddle than many of those watching and was again the star of the show when guiding his mount to the rail soon after breaking from a difficult draw in stall 10.
Despite saving every yard of ground around the inside rail turning for home, Flying Ace still appeared to have plenty to do 200m out when a couple of lengths down on pacesetter Campione and then he had to battle hard to fight off late challengers Rock Ya Heart and Beauty Mission with just a length separating the first five home.
Hall was thrilled to keep the winning feeling going but is ready to employ different tactics on Flying Ace if he is drawn better next time.
“It certainly wasn’t a big margin, but he’s still not getting all the favours, is he?” he said. “I know he got the run up on the rail and if he draws a barrier, I know the horse can race a helluva lot closer.
“He’s having to make up ground and do it the hard way and he had more weight today, he wasn’t as impressive at the finish because it was quite close, but to win four in a row in a preparation – for any horse in Hong Kong – he’s doing his job very well.
“He’ll stay in the grade off that rating and we’ll let the horse tell us how quickly he comes back to the races or whether we give him a break. He’s mentally not there yet – he still does plenty of things wrong. He’s a bit of a quirky horse with his mind.”
After four straight wins, it remains to be seen where the ceiling lies with Flying Ace but Hall is confident that his improving sprinter will more than hold his own in higher company.
“We’ll have a think about it. Class Three is always there and obviously the owner would like to win a Class Two race. He’s got that potential and will get there eventually,” he said.
While Flying Ace enhanced his reputation, the Hong Kong Derby bubble surrounding Beauty Live was well and truly burst when he was easily passed by Leading Fortune inside the final 200m of the Class Three Jonquil Handicap (1,600m).
Plenty of punters believed that Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s runner would prove himself a late Derby contender, backing him into $1.4, but those backers knew their fate some way out as Leading Fortune cruised up alongside the favourite.
Given a good ride by Zac Purton, who stalked rival Joao Moreira through the race, Leading Fortune travelled well behind pacesetter Beauty Live on the rail and showed a great turn of foot to win cosily by a neck.
Leading Fortune was completing an interesting hat-trick as all three of his wins have come under three different jockeys, with Purton following Moreira and Alexis Badel in steering the John Size-trained six-year-old into the winner’s enclosure.