Hewitson gets his Valley victory on Ferraris veteran

Lyle Hewitson earned a long-awaited and deserved first Happy Valley win tonight (Wednesday, 22 January) to help trainer David Ferraris continue his solid form this term, particularly with his stable’s old-stagers.

The two-time South African champion jockey has had a stark introduction to Hong Kong racing, with his stats rolling into tonight's nine-race card reading one win from 174 rides – a win strike rate of 0.57%.

KIRAM winning the Hung To Hcp (C3)
KIRAM winning the Hung To Hcp (C3) Picture: HKJC

But Hewitson has not buckled in the face of limited opportunities. After enduring a barren four months before sealing his breakthrough Hong Kong win at Sha Tin, the extra 24 days for his Valley follow-up must have seemed a breeze.

"It's probably a lot more exciting here at the Valley with the atmosphere," Hewitson said after driving the Ferraris-trained Kiram (116lb) to a neck verdict in the Class 3 Hung To Handicap (1650m).

David Ferraris has 14 wins on the board this season.
David Ferraris has 14 wins on the board this season. Picture: HKJC

"Without blowing my own trumpet, I feel I've been riding really well and getting positive results from limited opportunities. Obviously, when I get that little bit of a squeak I have to make the most of it."

Ferraris, 56, was pleased for his 22-year-old countryman whose talent, he believes, deserves more success.

SHAMPORT winning the Shing Yip Hcp (C4)
SHAMPORT winning the Shing Yip Hcp (C4) Picture: HKJC

"It's lovely," the trainer said. "Lyle should have ridden a lot more winners, but as a client of mine said, this is a cruel place; and there's no reason why certain jockeys should be riding winners and he isn't, because he is, in my opinion, better than a lot of them riding here. But that's the way it goes."

Kiram's win was his second this season from only four outings, suggesting the nine-year-old French import is racing as well as he ever has. And it followed a success at Sha Tin on Sunday for Ferraris' eight-year-old Magnetism, another two-time winner this term.

Jockey : JOAO MOREIRA
Jockey : JOAO MOREIRA Picture: HKJC

"Him and Magnetism, I love training these old boys," the handler said. "I take pride in keeping them sound and they're just wonderful old horses and I make sure they go to nice homes when it's time to retire.

"I told Lyle to lead because there didn't seem to be much pace on and this old horse is in great form, and I knew that if he kicked at the top of the straight with a lead they'd struggle to catch him."

Hewitson took the bull by the horns with 900m to race, allowing his mount to stride to the front; the 39/1 shot was determined in holding off runner-up Farshad (112lb).

"It was really nice to overcome a deep draw (10), there were a lot of things against the horse and he's pulled that off, so it's a win full of merit and one I think I can be pretty proud of," Hewitson said.

"Although this horse is probably at his best in Class 4, he had a light weight and with no speed in the race we adopted tactics that won him the race, so that's a feather in his cap."

Tony Piccone was also on the mark for the first time at the downtown track, partnering the Tony Millard-trained Sparkling Dragon to a three-quarter-length score in section one of the Class 3 Hoi Yuen Handicap (1200m). The Frenchman, 22 days into his first Hong Kong contract, picked up his three previous wins at Sha Tin.

Ho helps Fownes end drought

Caspar Fownes ended a dry spell stretching back to 18 December with a double that owed plenty to the skill and confidence of jockey Vincent Ho.

"I'd forgotten what it's like," Fownes quipped after Ho had sealed the brace for his old boss aboard Shamport – fresh off a spell at Conghua – in race three, the Class 4 Shing Yip Handicap (1200m).

"He's a horse that, truthfully speaking has been quite disappointing," Fownes admitted. "On his form in Australia he looked like he'd be at least an 80 or 80-plus horse in Hong Kong but he just never came up to what he looked like he was going to be.

"It was a lovely ride again by Vincent – it's wonderful to see my old apprentice ride some winners for me and ride with so much confidence. He got him in a beautiful position from the draw (gate seven), which was a bit tricky and did his job nicely in the end."

Ho kicked off the night with a sharp tactical move in the opener, the Class 5 Yue Man Handicap (2200m). The rider had his mount Sky Gem at the tail after a slow start but the pedestrian pace up front prompted a rapid, field-skirting move to lead with 650m to race – the Fownes-trained four-year-old forged on to land a first win by two and three-quarter lengths.

"The horse had been racing quite well and dropping down in the ratings off some quite good runs," Fownes noted.

"I said to Vincent it looked a race devoid of speed and I said 'the horse is rock hard fit so if the sectionals are slow down the back, you take off'. He rated him beautifully and it was a winning move."

Fownes and Ho were denied a rapid treble in race four, section two of the Class 4 Wai Yip Handicap (1650m). Ho had the lead halfway down the straight on the Fownes-trained Royal Racer but had to settle for second when Joao Moreira delivered the Frankie Lor-trained Flash Famous on a revving run to win by half a length.

Flash Famous was another winner off a Conghua prep, as was Very Sweet Orange who scraped home in the Class 4 Mut Wah Handicap (1000m) to move Alfred Chan to within one win of reducing his 10lb claim. The apprentice set the pace on the Me Tsui-trained galloper who put his nose down just at the right moment to hold on by a short-head and another short-head from the closing Dr Proactive and Winner's Heart.

Premiership leader Moreira made it a double and took his season's tally to 61 when the John Size-trained Dor Dor closed late off a rail run to nab runner-up Starlit Knight and land section one of the Wai Yip Handicap (1650m) at odds of 1.9.

Silvestre de Sousa and trainer Manfred Man teamed up to score with Compassion Star in the Class 4 Shing Yip Handicap (1200m), the six-year-old's fourth win from 27 starts.

The night's finale, section two of the Class 3 Hoi Yuen Handicap (1200m), went to the Benno Yung-trained Hinchinlove who, under Derek Leung, notched his first Hong Kong win at the 18th attempt.

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Monday, 27 January, with the first race set for noon.


Hong Kong Jockey Club