Talent gives Domeyer a treble at the Valley

Aldo Domeyer has made a rapid advance since arriving in Hong Kong at the start of May and he annexed his first Hong Kong treble when the promising Not Usual Talent took the finale at Happy Valley tonight, Wednesday, 3 July.

"I thought I had a pretty fair card and could go well but I didn't expect it would go as well as it did. From five rides I had three winners and two places, so it all went accordingly," the South African rider said.

Aldo Domeyer lands a first Hong Kong treble thanks to Not Usual Talent in the finale. Jockey: ALDO DOMEYER
Aldo Domeyer lands a first Hong Kong treble thanks to Not Usual Talent in the finale. Jockey: ALDO DOMEYER Picture: HKJC

Domeyer's treble on a rain-affected track followed a double at Sha Tin on Sunday – his third brace since his arrival – and took his running tally to 13 from 92 rides.

"I thought I'd take my chances the way the going was today: horses with bad draws, just sit them in, and horses with good draws, just hold my position. Things worked out quite nicely, I just timed my runs and here we are!" he said after Not Usual Talent had capped earlier wins on Showing Character and Sparkling Dragon.

Reliable Team winning the Sham Chung Hcp (C4)
Reliable Team winning the Sham Chung Hcp (C4) Picture: HKJC

"You can't expect things to have gone as well as they have but it's just started clicking. The more time I've spent here, the more comfortable things have become and the more I've started to understand the tracks and the pace of things.

"If you do the right things, often the results start improving," he continued. "I've watched Joao (Moreira) and I've watched Zac (Purton) and they often trust their instincts on these tracks – I think it's vital that you do"

Family Leader winning the Wong Chuk Wan Hcp (C4)
Family Leader winning the Wong Chuk Wan Hcp (C4) Picture: HKJC

Domeyer's victory on Not Usual Talent (125lb) came in the night's quality contest, the Class 2 Hoi Ha Handicap (1650m). The Benno Yung-trained four-year-old took his Hong Kong record to three wins from 10 starts with a deep-closing half-length verdict over Mr So And So (126lb).

Alfred Chan after opening his Happy Valley account on My Ally.
Alfred Chan after opening his Happy Valley account on My Ally. Picture: HKJC

"He went up nine pounds for his win last time but I still thought it was a handy galloping weight because he was quite fluent in his last win. He's a big horse so I thought he'd carry the weight, especially on this going, which I thought he'd enjoy more than any other horse," he said.

"He was a bit clumsy amongst horses but once I gave him daylight he was fluent, he actually quickened for a big horse, which is quite nice. When they're relaxed like that and quicken with such a long stride, I think they've always got a chance. Something about him makes me think he'll be better next season."

Domeyer tapped into his South African network for his other two wins. He set the ball rolling in the opener, the Class 5 Yung Shue O Handicap (1000m), atop Showing Character (127lb), trained by compatriot David Ferraris – a cheeky head victory over the closing Exponents (126lb) ridden by new boy Vagner Borges.

And another South African, Tony Millard, provided Sparkling Dragon in the Class 3 Lai Chi Chong Handicap (1200m). Domeyer delivered the charging gelding late to give Millard his first win since 5 May.

"The horse has unfortunately lost his early speed but you've got to hand it to Aldo today, he didn't panic – he waited and then he came," Millard said.

"He's settling in nicely and he's getting a nice spread of rides, not just from me, he's getting a lot of support. He's very strong, he's in that same mould as Felix Coetzee – they are tough and they are strong."

Purton takes two, Moore closes in

Zac Purton followed a four-timer at Sha Tin last weekend with a double that began with victory on the promising Reliable Team. Frankie Lor's three-year-old made it two from two with a three and a half-length success in the Class 4 Sham Chung Handicap (1200m).

"He did a good job, he had a heavy weight (133lb) and the gate (9) wasn't kind again but he was able to get in a good spot," the champion jockey said. "The way the race was run through the mid-section was a little bit kinder this time and I was able to sit and wait and cuddle him to the corner."

The Reliable Man gelding flashed his tail when Purton communicated a desire for better focus close home and the rider confirmed that the youngster was babyish in the run.

"He still wants to do a little bit wrong," he said.

Purton received warm praise from John Moore after guiding Smart Rocket to success in the Class 4 Tai Mong Tsai Handicap (1650m). That win took the handler to within two wins of John Size in the battle for the trainer's premiership.

"Zac's a genius at the moment; everything is just running for him," Moore said after collecting his first Happy Valley win since 17 April.

"The gate was the winning factor there, he drew two and he went in last, which meant that he was in and out within 10 or 15 seconds and that was a big plus because he can be a nutcase. Zac said he jumped and got the gun run and then he waited when Witness Hunter went around them on the outside."

Ho's fighting fit

If there was a title for the fittest jockey in Hong Kong, Vincent Ho would certainly be a contender and the many hours spent hitting pads in the gym paid off for him in the Class 4 Wong Chuk Wan Handicap (1800m).

The rider had to niggle the Caspar Fownes-trained Family Leader from the outset to race in fifth spot, and, through pelting rain, he was hard at it before the field of 12 had reached the 600m pole. There was no respite for the jockey's busy arms: a check 450m out made the task more strenuous, but Ho was up to it, driving from six lengths down at the turn to clinch a grinding last stride victory. 

"He's not the easiest of horses, he's hard work but (Vincent's) a fit jockey – a fit horse and an incredibly fit trainer!" Fownes quipped.

"I thought his chances were gone when that check happened but it's nice that he picked himself up and persevered – he stayed on strongly. The blinkers first time helped him to focus a little bit."

It was a first win for the Makfi four-year-old at his 12th start, the bay having placed third over 2200m the time before.

"I said to Vincent I'd hoped that he could have got out and got going on him because he's really dour, he stays all day. The rain helped us a little bit," Fownes said.

Ho, 29, took his tally for the season to 54 and is well clear in the standings to claim the Tony Cruz Award as the season's leading homegrown rider. He will head to England during the off-season to connect again with trainer Mark Johnston, who provided him with his first British win at the first attempt aboard X Rated at Haydock last August.

Chan's Valley first

Alfred Chan was thrilled to bag his first Happy Valley win on his first night riding at the downtown venue. The 10lb apprentice made all on the Michael Chang-trained My Ally (116lb) to take the Class 3 Pak Sha O Handicap (1650m) by a short-head from the fast-finishing Looking Good (119lb).

"It was very exciting, it's a different place, it feels different with all the buildings around and the people so close to the track," the rider said. "The horse is rock hard fit and performed very well."

Ben So took his win tally to six when driving Precious Sweetie to success at odds of 2.1 in the Class 4 Sham Chung Handicap (1200m). Peter Ho's charge outpointed Gunnar by a length and a quarter.

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday, 7 July.


Hong Kong Jockey Club