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Poon looks to keep on rolling at the Valley after consecutive doubles, Ferraris joins riding ranks from next season

June 9, 2021, 4:31:02 AM

After snaring successive doubles at the last two race meetings, jockey Matthew Poon is eager to keep the momentum going as he goes to Happy Valley's midweek fixture with a full book of rides and his eyes set on a new personal best.

“Lately, the horses have had excellent draws and a little of luck, so I'm quite lucky, but I'm delighted that I can go on some fantastic horses as well,” Poon explained. “I always feel happy if I can continue to improve or increase my number of victories — that's what I aspire to do each season.”

Poon has already surpassed last year's total of 29 victories and is currently only one victory shy of his best-ever season tally of 35 triumphs, which he achieved in successive seasons (2017/18 and 2018/19).

“I think the most significant factor is my racing discipline; I ride competitively, but I ride more wisely, aiming to make fewer mistakes and avoid generating problem or being suspended — I am more controlled and disciplined in races.

“In other words, this season I am more concentrated, and you need more attention to do it,” Poon explained.

Poon has a pair of G3 victories this season, having won the Centenary Vase Handicap (1800m) riding Glorious Dragon before triumphing atop Butterfield in last month's Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap (2400m).

“It's really difficult to get rides in the big races, so I'm very lucky to be able to get the support and get on a pair of nice horses in Butterfield and Glorious Dragon – Butterfield is young and I think he can continue to improve; Glorious Dragon has the class, I hope he can continue with it,” Poon said.

Trainer Frankie Lor, a powerful ally, has delivered the 27-year-old with eight wins this season, and the team joins with two chances on Wednesday evening (9 June), starting with Mission Smart in the third quarter of the Class 4 Port Shelter Handicap (1200m).

From four outings this season, the son of Smart Missile had a pair of tight losses at the city circuit early this season before finishing middle twice at Sha Tin.

“I jogged him on the grass, he was fairly easygoing, he doesn't have a nice draw this time but maybe he can leap and obtain a place in the second half of the field or midfield and then relax and finish,” Poon said as he prepares to accompany the horse from gate 10 against 11 competitors.

Poon rode the Australian-bred four-year-old in a turf gallop five days earlier at Sha Tin, clocking 55.6s (28.9, 26.7) for 800m.

Smart Missile is third in the standings this season with 35 victories, trailing the season's top sire Exceed And Excel, who had 38 victories, and Per Incanto, who is second with 36 victories.

“I've only rode him once, but he came from behind that day, so perhaps he can demonstrate a similar trend with a solid finish tomorrow night,” Poon said.

Later in the evening, Poon teams up with Lor again to take the lead on five-time course and distance winner We The South in the feature, the Class 2 Castle Peak Bay Handicap (1000m).

“He can be pretty excellent and come so near or even win occasionally, but then he can be extremely disappointing,” Poon said. “I just hope he can jump fast, obtain a tight place, and have every chance to finish the race.”

Stepping out of gate eight, the Your Song gelding confronts a tough field of 11 other speedsters as he attempts to improve on his already remarkable record.

Another of Poon's biggest supporters has been Francis Lui; the pair have combined for eight wins this season, and tomorrow night the rider takes a pair of mounts for the handler, first aboard last-start winner Management Supreme in the first section of the Class 4 Port Shelter Handicap (1200m), before linking with Igniting in the Class 3 Kat O Hoi Handicap (1200m) (1200m).

“He's a big horse, he's got some speed, and I think he's fairly tough, so hopefully he can jump well, show his speed early, and tough it out to win again,” Poon said.

This season, the son of Starspangledbanner has won two course and distance races, including one under Poon precisely three starts ago.
Earlier on the schedule, Poon competes in the Class 5 Yan Chau Tong Handicap with the Tony Millard-trained Fortune Patrol (2200m). Poon and Millard have raced together twice this season, most recently with Gallant Crown at the city circuit last week.

Luke Ferraris, the son of current Hong Kong-based trainer David Ferraris, will join Hong Kong's riding ranks on a half-season contract from July 15, 2021 to February 13, 2022.

“We were overjoyed; it's always been his dream, and he's certainly earned it,” David Ferraris said.
Ferraris, at the age of 19, will be the second youngest arrival in Hong Kong behind New Zealand jockey Michael Walker, who was licensed for a short-term tenure in early 2003 at the age of 18.

The two-time South African champion apprentice has created a reputation for himself in his own country, having won the South African Triple Crown riding Malmoos, as well as the G1 Cape Town Met (2000m) at Kenilworth Racecourse, Cape Town's largest event atop Rainbow Bridge.

“He's done incredibly well back in South Africa, the trainers back him up, and he's been riding some really big horses at home – I believe they're going to miss him a lot.

“He'll ride Rainbow Bridge in the Group 1 Durban July Handicap in the first week of July and then go straight into quarantine for what will be a lengthy quarantine,” David Ferraris explained.

Luke Ferraris won the G1 Gold Medallion (1200m) at Scottsville Racecourse last weekend riding the Vaughan Marshall-trained Ambiorix. The Gold Medallion is a premier two-year-old race in South Africa.

In the Class 4 Silver Mine Bay Handicap tomorrow night at the Valley, David Ferraris will saddle up aboard last-start winner Nitro Express (1650m).

“He's got gate nine tomorrow night, which isn't going to be easy, but the horse is in great shape,” Ferraris added. “He's absolutely flying for an elderly guy, he's generated big money for the owners, and he's doing extremely well at this later part of his career.”

The Australian-bred nine-year-old won her previous outing in Class 5 under Joao Moreira but rises up in class this time and will be partnered with jockey Matthew Poon from gate nine.

“He was simply given an extraordinarily nice ride; typically, he would never go to the front like that, but Joao (Moreira) simply thought it was the best thing to do, and it worked out really well,” Ferraris explained.

Wednesday's nine-race card gets underway at Happy Valley at 6.45 p.m. with the Class 5 Yan Chau Tong Handicap (2200m).