Hong Kong Diary

Vincent Ho stole the show in Hong Kong with a stunning Derby success aboard Golden Sixty on Sunday but Zac Purton and Joao Moreira rode five winners between them on the Sha Tin supporting card. Reigning champ Purton has gradually reduced Moreira’s double digit lead to just one and the ongoing title battle will roll back to Happy Valley on Wednesday for an eight-race card covered live on Sky Sports Racing.

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Vincent back to earth after knockout Derby blow

How does the new hometown hero of Hong Kong racing spend his down time a day after winning his first BMW Hong Kong Derby?

A bright yellow Porsche with a personalised plate reading GAGNANT (French for WINNER) is the one and only flash element of Vincent Ho's life but the 29-year-old was never going to rest on his laurels after becoming the first homegrown rider to win the Derby for 25 years.


Vincent Ho

The buzz of victory meant the deep sleep Ho was hoping for after delivering Golden Sixty with a spectacular stretch drive didn't materialise and physio and a boxing session took precedence over Monday celebrations.

"I prefer a quiet night so Sunday was just dinner and then home," he said. "I still had to wake up at 5.30am on Monday to gallop some Class 5 horses - that's how it works!"

Fownes fears for luckless Naboo Star

Caspar Fownes yields to no-one in his admiration for Ho but the man they call ‘King of the Valley’ will be gently reminding his former apprentice that he owes him one before Wednesday’s Po Chong Wan Handicap (2.15) at the city track.

Ho found himself stuck on the fence with nowhere to go from an inside draw when the five-year-old finished fifth two weeks ago and Fownes is concerned that it could be a case of one that got away from a much wider barrier (10) this time.

“Last time was a bit of a nightmare because I thought he was the best horse in the race,” he said. “When mine are the best in the race I don’t like to ride for luck. It was unfortunate because he should have got the job done and we’ve had no option but to drop him back in trip, which is not ideal.”

Caspar Fownes

Blake takes it on the Shinn as seconds pile up

Three of the first five home in the Derby were sent off at 260-1 or longer and it was hard not to feel for Playa Del Puente's rider Blake Shinn, who made an audacious last-to-first sweep on the home turn aboard Danny Shum’s gelding and almost stole the race in doing so.

Champion trainer John Size's long-held view that "you can't have Hong Kong winners in HK without the seconds" is something Shinn can take heart from given that his tough first season in HK has yielded nine golds and a remarkable 36 silver medal positions.


An intense character and noted gym hound, the 32-year-old would be in high demand if he chose to return to Australia but the tide looks sure to turn and six chances to add to his winning total at Happy Valley on Wednesday include Playa Del Puente’s stablemate Green Dispatch, who gave him his first HK winner last September.

”I thought Green Dispatch was a bit luckless not to win a couple of weeks ago,” said Shinn. “Our plan was to go forward but he didn’t step the best so I had to ride him quietly. I think he’s better rolling in front but that last start gave me the confidence that if it doesn’t work out I can ride him back and he’s still got the ability to win.”

Yeung’s negative a positive as racing goes ahead

The second wave of COVID-19 infections hitting HK has prompted renewed measures to keep the current racing bubble intact.

The decision to open selected betting shops on non racedays has been revoked, while owners can no longer visit their horses at the stables. Only owners with confirmed starters will be allowed to go racing until further notice and the government’s recent decision to ban the sale of alcohol in thousands of bars and restaurants will also apply on the racecourse once it comes into force.

Keith Yeung


Fears that the virus had spread to the weighing room surfaced on Sunday night when local lightweight rider Keith Yeung reported that he “had an elevated temperature and felt unwell.” A subsequent coronavirus came back negative – prompting sighs of relief all round – but Yeung will miss  five intended Wednesday mounts in order that the results from a second test can be verified.

Hong Kong Diary
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