Ricky Yiu’s Business As Usual After 900th Winner: ‘1,000 Would Mean Something’ | HK races
Ricky Yiu Poon-fai became just the fifth manager to land 900 Hong Kong winners in Sha Tin on Sunday, but he certainly didn’t get carried away, immediately focusing on collecting the next 100.
“I really don’t feel anything, I’ll just put my head down and do my best, keep up the hard work – 1,000 winners would mean something,” Yiu said.
It was Eternal Bloom’s victory in the Class Four Ma On Shan Handicap (1,400m) that saw Yiu hit the mark and he doubled his run in the following race, with Good Luck Friend shocking bettors by eliminating the Class Two Tai Mo. Handicap Shan (1,400m) at $39.
Aged 65, there was a time when Yiu thought this season might be his last until the Jockey Club revised the performance criteria for training beyond the standard retirement age, which means he can continue until the end of the 2027-28 season provided he continues to meet certain benchmarks. .
“It was a big relief. If the rule was retirement at 65, that’s fine, but they changed the rule and I’m happy to continue,” Yiu said.
“Before the club announced I would be five years older, I wasn’t looking at 1,000 (winners), but now I have a chance to reach 1,000.”
The Winner of Shum Book
Danny Shum Chap-shing was so confident Victor The Winner would live up to his name in his Sha Tin debut on Sunday, the veteran coach implored owner Chu Yun-lau to come back from the mainland and “take a shot “.
Take a shot Chu made, with Victor The Winner’s dominating victory dispelling any doubts Shum had about whether calling Chu back to Hong Kong was the right move.
“He’s a very impressive horse. He tried well last season and again this season,” Shum said.
“I spoke to the owner and told him he had to come back to Hong Kong because he was in mainland China. I said ‘the horse is a chance to win, so come back and take a picture.’
Toronado’s son, four-year-old Victor The Winner jumped cleanly under Matthew Poon Ming-fai and was never directed, firing hard down the straight to beat home runner-up The Hulk by three-and-a-quarter lengths.
It’s a performance that left Shum convinced that there’s still plenty to do in gelding.
“I think he’ll handle class three when he gets there, I don’t see him having any problems in class three,” Shum said, adding he wouldn’t be rushing Victor The Winner back to racing.
“This sire, you can’t chase them too hard – most of this sire’s horses need a bit of time, four to six weeks is better than two weeks. Then they can gain confidence and continue to develop.
Shum completed a one-two finish with Ka Ying Spirit’s victory, and third place Packing Victory made him the first winner of the all-new Trainer Challenge.
Punters invested HK$3.8m in the new offer, which was significantly lower than the HK$7.2m bet on the Jockey Challenge, but Jockey Club executives hope the Trainer Challenge will become more popular as punters become familiar with it.
Ho feeding off the pressure
Peter Ho Leung welcomes the pressure that comes with having two goals against his name after opening his 2022-23 account on the first day of the campaign with the Amazing Victory win.
The 62-year-old has failed to meet the Jockey Club’s performance benchmark for trainers in the past two seasons, managing just 11 and 14 winners respectively.
When renewing his license in June, the Licensing Committee warned Ho that “if he did not meet the performance criteria at the end of a subsequent racing season, he would not be able to obtain a trainer’s license for next racing season”.
“The pressure is there but if you don’t have pressure you can’t work hard. If you let the prospect of retirement weigh on your mind, it’s not fair to the owners,” Ho said.
“It’s always nice to have a quick winner and I always do my job in a positive way – I think positively and work hard. I’ve been doing it for over 20 years. The main thing is to try to get more support from owners.
Ho was forced to watch the success of Amazing Victory from home after his son tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday, which will keep the veteran coach off the track for a week.
Amazing Victory finished strong to win the Class Four Yi Tung Shan Handicap (1,200m) under Karis Teetan, squeezing down the rail to take a narrow victory over Brave Dreams and Science Patch.