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Dennis Yip grabs 800th Hong Kong win, Matthew Poon lands treble

October 7, 2022, 2:57:13 AM

The latest Hong Kong trainer to reach the 800-win milestone with a Happy Valley double on Wednesday night (5 October), Dennis Yip immediately outlined ambitions to press for 1,000 victories in the jurisdiction.

The latest Hong Kong trainer to reach the 800-win milestone with a Happy Valley double on Wednesday night (5 October), Dennis Yip immediately outlined ambitions to press for 1,000 victories in the jurisdiction.

Yip became the sixth active Hong Kong trainer to annex the 800-win mark by saddling a Class 5 brace at Happy Valley with Passing Fashion and Sunny And Gold and the 2012/13 Hong Kong champion trainer has no intentions of resting on his laurels.

A protégé of Brian Kan, Yip took his tally for the campaign to three to join Tony Cruz (1,420), John Size (1,418), Caspar Fownes (1,018), Ricky Yiu (906) and Francis Lui (802) among the batch of contemporary handlers to reach 800 wins.

“It’s another step on the way to 900 (wins) and 1,000 (wins), I’ll try my best” Yip, 55, said before indicating he had several talented unraced newcomers at his disposal along with a cluster of Class 5 horses.

“I think no problem for me because I have many new horses that have got ability. Later my new horses will show something but at the moment I’m very strong in Class 5 – I have got 14 or 15 Class 5 horses at the moment.”

Yip rode 59 winners between 1984 and 1993 after graduating from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Apprentice Jockeys’ School before turning his hand to training, famously snatching the 2012/13 championship from Tony Cruz by winning the last race of the season.

Antoine Hamelin delivered the first leg of Yip’s double, posting his first victory of the season aboard Sunny And Gold in the second section of the Class 5 Island Handicap (1200m) in a performance which delighted the Frenchman.

“I’m very happy, I can’t wait for the first winner (of the season) – it always comes too late,” Hamelin said. “The horse was in good form, the pace was good and everything worked out. Hopefully, I can have more winners now.”

Ruan Maia then combined with Yip and Passing Fashion in the Class 5 Shum Wan Handicap (1650m).

Matthew Poon starred with a treble for three different trainers – Francis Lui, Manfred Man and Frankie Lor – to take his career total in Hong Kong to only three shy of 200 winners.

Citing favourable barriers and in-form horses, Poon said: “All jockeys need some luck and if you’ve got horses in good form and lucky draws, we all can get the job done. So, I’m very happy about tonight and I just want to keep going.”

Poon produced a patient ride Noble Steed to claim his fifth Hong Kong victory in 57 attempts with success in the Class 4 Nam Fung Handicap (1650m) for Francis Lui. A Hong Kong International Sale graduate, Noble Steed had not won since January, 2020. Poon then drove Happy Gathering to victory in the first section of the Class 5 Island Handicap (1200m) for Manfred Man to boost his seasonal haul before completing an outstanding meeting with success on Adios in the Class 3 Tai Shue Wan Handicap (1200m).

Adios’ win earned the Snitzel gelding’s owners a PP Bonus of HK$1 million.

Ricky Yiu and Derek Leung celebrated success in the evening’s feature – the Class 3 Hong Kong Country Club Challenge Cup Handicap (1650m) – with Nimble Nimbus. Notching his third victory in 14 starts, Nimble Nimbus will be given further opportunities up to 1800m by Yiu.

“I’ll have a look at the program and probably keep him at 1650m to even 1800m,” Yiu said. “He ran well tonight and we’ll see what comes up next.”

Sight Hero’s storming finish under Luke Currie in the first section of the Class 4 Wong Chuk Handicap (1200m) gave David Hayes his eighth win of the term and the trainers’ championship from Tony Cruz (seven wins).

Zac Purton opened the meeting with a superb, ground-saving ride on Ping Hai Galaxy to edge out Seizing The Moment to give John Size a stable quinella in the Class 3 Heung Yip Handicap (1000m), while Luke Ferraris closed the nine-race card with victory atop Lucky Gor in the second section of the Class 4 Wong Chuk Hang Handicap (1200m) for Caspar Fownes.

Hong Kong racing will continue at Sha Tin on Sunday afternoon (9 October).