He has been forced to watch on as galloper after galloper has been transferred out of his stable but Summit Cheers offered David Hall some welcome respite from the “massacre” at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Since boom sprinter Joyful Fortune was taken off Hall in December after a disappointing 11th, the 57-year-old has lost 15 horses to other stables while only five have come the other way.
“We haven’t got a lot of depth there now, it’s been a bit of a massacre and the numbers are down but we’ve still got a few new ones that will be coming,” Hall said.
“And with a nice young horse like that, the game is not over,” he added of Summit Cheers, who was his first debutant to salute since Joyful Fortune’s effort in July last year.
After a close second behind Group One winner Hot King Prawn in a recent trial, Summit Cheers was sent off as a $5.90 chance in the Class Four Tai Po Market Handicap (1,000m).
The three-year-old son of Zoustar travelled beautifully just off the leaders under Matthew Poon Ming-fai before finding enough late to edge out Goko and give Hall his 20th winner of the season.
“Obviously after trialling alongside the Group horse the other day he became a bit of a talking point but he’s still very much a work in progress and hopefully he’ll take benefit from that and grow in confidence,” Hall said.
“He’s a three-year-old and obviously he’s still learning. He doesn’t quite know what he’s doing 100 per cent yet but he’s shown his talent in a couple of trials.
“He’s a long way from being Hot King Prawn but it’s always good to see an unraced three-year-old keep up with a horse like that in a trial and give you a bit of confidence that he’s got some talent there.”
While impressed with the win, Hall was also content in the knowledge that the short-head margin should ensure Summit Cheers will get another chance to race in Class Four.
“He won’t get hammered by the handicapper today with the short margin so he’ll get another spin in Class Four and that will be good for him,” Hall said.
“He’s got to be able to match it mentally so we’ll take slow steps forward, get another win under his belt and we’ll see where he can end up.
“Zoustars are a pretty good breed, they look to be natural racehorses. I’ve had Quadruple Double and now this horse and they’re instant results, I’d like to have a stable full of them,” added Hall, who still has 53 horses under his care despite the exodus.
Poon went on to ring up a double in the sixth event, leading throughout to salute aboard the Frankie Lor Fu-cheun-trained All For St Paul’s in the Class Four Yuen Chau Tsai Handicap (1,600m).
It was Poon’s 20th winner for the season and his fifth for Lor, with the pair striking at 19 per cent from 26 rides.