Dylan Mo hit a landmark 70 and Dennis Yip a milestone 700 thanks to The Show’s wide surge down the Happy Valley straight on Wednesday night.
Mo was elated as he swept past the winning-post half a length ahead of runner-up Super Euro Star and saluted the victory that sealed his graduation from the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Apprentice Jockeys’ School.
“I’m very happy, it’s very exciting,” Mo said, face beaming and adrenaline still fizzing, after receiving his graduation silver platter and sash.
“After the win I just saluted. I enjoyed it and it was very exciting!”
Mo’s 70th win, in the Class 4 Broom Handicap (1200m), came two years and two months after his first aboard the deliciously-named Fish N’ Chips.
Yip, meanwhile, arrived at his 700th score in his 17th season with a licence. The popular local handler enjoyed the biggest night of his career at Happy Valley almost six years ago when he claimed the champion trainer title on the dramatic final day of the 2012/13 season.
Dennis Yip makes a “7” hand-sign as he celebrates with Dylan Mo and connections, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
“It’s another step,” he said. “Every winner is difficult to get in Hong Kong and it’s taken me 17 seasons. Today he was drawn a little bit wide but the horse was in very good condition so I used the kid and I told him to jump fast, get him comfortable and then try for the best.”
Mo was forced to suffer a three-wide alley in midfield after breaking from gate 10 but The Show was game for the challenge. The eight-year-old’s momentum was rolling as he swung even wider into the straight and maintained his run to the wire.
“I just rode him around horses and I could feel he was coming home very strong. I just rode him through the line,” Mo said
“I was half-and-half about whether I was going to get the win; sometimes the front-runners are hard to catch-up so I was just doing it step-by-step.”
And step-by-step is how Mo will continue: “I will keep going; try my best; keep working hard!”
The rider, who has been guided through his apprenticeship by trainer Danny Shum, notched 24 wins in his first Hong Kong season, 25 despite a bad hip injury last term, and has 21 so far in this campaign.
Yip, meanwhile, had warm words for Mo: “Congratulations to Dylan. I think he will become a good jockey and I will try to support him.”
Yiu praises Spirit after Vase triumph
The night’s feature, the Class 1 Happy Valley Vase Handicap (1800m) went to Citron Spirit. Trainer Ricky Yiu was full of praise for his stable stalwart who now has six wins on the board from 33 Hong Kong starts.
“He’s always a chance because he’s a very honest horse. He keeps trying,” he said.
Matthew Poon settled the seven-year-old second-last in the eight-runner field, shifted out on the home turn and rifled home down the stands’ side for a three-quarter-length score at odds of 9.1.
“With the C Course, we weren’t sure if it would benefit the front-runner or the back-marker but you’ve got to ride him the way he enjoys it. He was going to be in the first three and I wasn’t surprised he won,” Yiu said.
Citron Spirit carries Matthew Poon to victory in the Happy Valley Vase, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
The Irish-bred’s second win of the season came two starts after a game second over the course and distance behind Simply Brilliant in the G3 January Cup Handicap. Yiu is now short of options for the gelding who went into the evening rated 108.
“At this age, he’s a better horse here than he is at Sha Tin,” he said. “He’s going over 110 now so he’ll have to face the good ones at Sha Tin, there’s no choice.
“At his age he finds it very hard to compete with the young ones at Sha Tin. Here he has more chance to win. I’ll have a good look at the programme now; hopefully, at the end of the season, he might find weaker company and if he does I wouldn’t be surprised if he won again.”
And Yiu revealed that Citron Spirit might find himself in a leafy, green paddock after this campaign.
“This would probably be his last season,” he said. “He’s a lovely horse. He’s one of my favourites even though I haven’t had him long, I enjoy training him. I’d love to see him at a good home when he retires.”
Yiu sealed a double when Speedy King won the night’s second feature, the Class 3 Ireland Trophy Handicap (1000m). Derek Leung drove the five-year-old to victory.
Poon landed a brace, too. The rider delivered Penang Hall to land the finale, the Class 3 Holly Handicap (1650m), for his former master David Hall.
Karis Teetan was also in double form as he took his season’s tally to 61. The Mauritian landed the opener on the Tony Millard-trained Righteous Mate and followed up aboard the Tony Cruz-trained Waldorf in race seven.
Zac Purton and Paul O’Sullivan teamed up with Oriental elite in race two, and Vincent Ho was in tandem with his old boss Caspar Fownes to take the fourth contest with Perfect To Play.
Hong Kong Jockey Club racing continues with the first ever race meeting at Conghua Racecourse on Saturday, 23 March, and at Sha Tin on Sunday, 24 March.