David Hall has again tasted immediate success on the racetrack after celebrating a new arrival, taking out Wednesday night’s opener just days after the birth of his second son, Harvey.
Just as he did with Cash Courier after he and wife Germaine’s first son, Hunter, was born in 2018, Hall snared the first race since Harvey’s arrival on Sunday thanks to the victory of Gallant Hero in the Class Five Tsim Sha Tsui Handicap (1,800m).
“First race meeting, race one – it’s happened again. In Chinese culture, they tell you if you have a baby, you’re going to have plenty of luck. I won’t be arguing with them,” Hall said.
Change was the order of the day in both Class Five events to open the card, with Gallant Hero embracing the step down in grade and up in trip to salute as favourite under Zac Purton, while Sunshine Legendary snared the Jordan Handicap (1,200m) under Derek Leung Ka-chun in his first start for Frankie Lor Fu-chuen after nine fruitless outings for Richard Gibson.
Hall was not the only one celebrating at the midweek meeting, with connections of Victory Scholars putting on quite the show in the parade ring after the second section of the Class Four Mong Kok Handicap (1,200m).
No horse had placed more this year without winning than Victory Scholars, with the five-year-old ending a run that included three seconds and two thirds in 2023 with his success under Alfred Chan Ka-hei.
“To see the owners so happy is wonderful. You can’t buy that. That’s what I love,” Fownes said.
“The horse really deserved that victory, so I’m very happy. It’s nice to get Alfie on as well. He rides work, he works hard for the stable, so it’s always good to get that reward.”
There were a string of multiples at the midweek meeting, with Purton saluting aboard the Jamie Richards-trained Magniac to complete his brace, while Richards completed a running double with his only two runners thanks to the victory of Sixth Generation.
“Because he’s a three-year-old we’ve been spacing his races out a little bit – looking after him – and we’ve just been a little bit disappointed with how he’s been hitting the line,” Richards said of Magniac after his victory off a seven-day break in the second section of the Class Three Ho Man Tin Handicap (1,200m).
“But we went back through his form and he backed up well in Perth before he arrived, and he’s a very good-doing horse, so the back up suited him tonight. He’s got a future here.”
It was Vincent Ho Chak-yiu who booted Sixth Generation to a four-length victory in the second section of the Class Four King’s Park Handicap (1,650m), the jockey’s second success of the evening after he earlier delivered aboard Francis Lui Kin-wai’s class dropper High Rise Soldier in the first section of the Class Four Mong Kok Handicap (1,200m).
Lui was the other trainer to land a double, with Jerry Chau Chun-lok returning from the fever that sidelined him on Saturday to take out the Class Four Hong Kong Rugby Union Cup (1,650m) aboard London Luckystar for the veteran handler.
Meanwhile, it was confirmed on Wednesday that Manfred Man Ka-leung’s Lucky Sweynesse has been entered for the Group One Yasuda Kinen (1,600m) in Tokyo on June 4, while Japanese galloper Hishi Iguazu has been removed from the Group One QE II Cup (2,000m) at Sha Tin next Sunday.
The absence of Hishi Iguazu, who was to be ridden by Joao Moreira, reduces the QE II Cup field to seven and the Japanese contingent in the race to three.
Moreira has confirmed he will still travel to Hong Kong to honour his commitment to ride My Oberon for Annabel Neasham in the Group One Champions Mile.