Luke Ferraris celebrated his most important Hong Kong success with Sauvestre’s victory in the Class 1 Panasonic Cup Handicap as Pierre Ng and Zac Purton dominated at Sha Tin on Saturday with quartets.
In only his second season as a trainer, Ng boosted his 2023/24 tally to 20 wins with his first Hong Kong four-timer to lead the standings by six from Francis Lui, Danny Shum and Frankie Lor, while Purton’s quartet catapulted the six-time Hong Kong champion jockey to 26 wins.
Ng and Purton combined with Billionaire Secret in the Class 4 Panasonic Japan Made System Kitchen Handicap, Master Of Fortune in the Class 3 Panasonic Lighting Handicap and Aestheticism in the Class 4 Panasonic Speed Oven Handicap before Karis Teetan chimed in for Ng atop Mugen in the Class 3 Panasonic Thermo Ventilator Handicap.
Having only his third start, Mugen provided Ng with his 20th success of the campaign, further validating the young handler’s decision to target as many races as possible at the start of the season.
“The whole stable is responsible for that,” Ng said. “It’s brilliant. It’s my first four-timer.”
Purton also struck with Mark Newnham’s Happy Hero in the Class 5 Panasonic Ziaino Air Treatment Handicap before Ferraris, 21, teamed with Frankie Lor and Sauvestre, who led throughout to claim the Saturday’s feature.
“He had the light weight (122lb) and the race sort of mapped to suit him. When he gets his own way in front, he sort of pricks his ears and he sort of comes back to you and then you can do what you want with him – which is exactly what he did today,” Ferraris said.
“He pricked ears around the bend, he got a nice breather in and then with the lightish weight, when I clicked him, the response was immediate.
“It’s another winner for Frankie. I’ve ridden two winners for him now, both at this course. I’m hopeful I can build up a relationship with Frankie. He’s a great trainer with nice horses, so it would be nice to get some more wins for him.”
Lor is uncertain of where Sauvestre will head next after gelding excelled this Saturday to resist a late charge from Red Lion to win by a neck with Dancing Code third, a nose further back in 1m 21.69s.
“Maybe I’ll look to 1600 metres now, but this horse has two times had heart problems. You need to look after him very carefully. If he’s healthy, we can maybe keep going,” Lor said.
“First-up this season, the form was not really good and then the second start he ran better and finished third. Today, he had a light weight over 1400 metres, which is his best distance, and the jockey was able to lead by himself and control the pace really well. Luke rode the horse well.”
David Hall celebrated his 600th Hong Kong win when talented sprinter Invincible Sage maintained an unbeaten record this season with victory in the Class 3 Panasonic 4KTV Handicap under Hugh Bowman.
Clocking 56.91s, the Thronum gelding blazed through the 800m-400m sectional in 21.0s before overhauling Sparkling Knight by a neck in a quality performance.
Hall, who started training in Hong Kong in the 2004/05 season, was delighted at reaching the 600-win mark, while indicating he would plot a conservative course with Invincible Sage, an entrant for the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races on 10 December.
“When I had 500 wins, somebody said ‘That’s a good number’, so 600 wins is even better and with a syndicate horse, very fitting,” the Melbourne Cup-winning handler said.
“He had a bit of a break after last season and won first up and to repeat it today with a big weight (135lb), giving away a bit of a start and he was in a bit of a tricky spot for a while but he got himself out of trouble, which good horses can do.
“I think the LONGINES HKIR is going to come up a bit too quickly for him. I don’t think he’ll be running in the Gr1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint, 1200m. We’ll probably stick to a Class 2 race and have a look at the handicaps with him for the moment.”
Lui hopes Holy Lake can progress towards the HK$52 million Four-Year-Old Classic Series after the Holy Roman Emperor gelding’s win in the Class 4 Panasonic IH Warm Jar Handicap for Brenton Avdulla.
“He’s the right age to go there but it will depend on his rating (50 before today’s race),” Lui said. “I like him but he’s still green, so I think he can still improve.”
Ellis Wong slotted his third win of the campaign aboard Caspar Fownes-trained Kaholo Angel to land the Class 4 Panashop Handicap while Angus Chung closed the meeting in style by winning the Class 3 Panasonic IH Cooker Handicap aboard Super Winner for Dennis Yip.
An eight-year-old, Super Winner has won three races for Yip this season to take his career record to seven wins from 52 starts.
Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday 15 November.