John Size added another remarkable layer to an extraordinary career when the 12-time champion trainer saddled his 1500th Hong Kong winner at Sha Tin on Sunday, becoming only the second person to achieve the feat behind fellow Australian John Moore.
Marking his entry into one of Hong Kong racing’s most exclusive clubs with a quartet, Size reached the 1,500 win-mark when Raging Blizzard won the Class 4 BOC Life Handicap under six-time Hong Kong champion jockey Zac Purton.
One of the most influential figures in Hong Kong racing’s long and decorated history, Size was humbled to reach the colossal figure to sit behind only Moore before crowning the achievement with the subsequent wins of Beauty Eternal, Helios Express and Ensued.
“I’m very satisfied with my career in Hong Kong. It’s been very good from the first season when I started here and it’s given me great satisfaction,” Size, 69, said expressing surprise that he had reached such an imposing milestone with his 10,912th starter in Hong Kong.
“No, I didn’t imagine that. I thought it was a very tough assignment for me to come here but right from the beginning it seems like I was well suited, and I’ve done much better than I could have imagined.”
With 16 Group 1 victories and three BMW Hong Kong Derby triumphs to his credit, Size has been synonymous with some of the jurisdiction’s smartest horses while reaching the landmark with a winning strike rate of 13.7%.
First licensed for the 2001/02 season, Size swept to the Hong Kong trainers’ championship and repeated the feat in 2002/03, 2003/04, 2005/06, 2007/08, 2009/10, 2011/12, 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2022/23 – to stand alone as the owner of the most training crowns.
“I’ll leave someone out if I start mentioning names, but Electronic Unicorn started the procession. He was a fantastic horse to come to me in my first season and gave me a great start and a big kick along,” Size reflected.
“The three Hong Kong Derby horses, of course – Fay Fay, Luger and Ping Hai Star, and Beat The Clock, who won four Gr1’s in 12 months. It’s been a great ride and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
“I’m very satisfied and I’m very grateful that I was able to come here.”
After his customary measured start to the season, Size accelerated his push for a 13th training crown with a quartet today.
The master trainer completed a race-to-race double when Helios Express won the Class 2 BOCHK Asset Management Handicap as Brenton Avdulla charged into contention for the LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship at Happy Valley on 6 December with his first Hong Kong four-timer.
“It’s a massive result, obviously I had just knocked over a few singles, I hadn’t even had a double until today,” Avdulla said. “I did think coming here today that this was my strongest book of rides. I had good gates.
“I thought with a bit of luck, I could get one or two, it worked out well to get three, now four. It’s a big result.”
Shaping as a potential BMW Hong Kong Derby contender, Ensued remained unbeaten with a dogged display in the Class 3 BOC Credit Card Handicap.
“It worked out really well, it was a wide draw, but the race panned out well. On the turn, I thought he was the winner. He’s a nice horse,” Avdulla, 32, said.
A Toronado gelding, Helios Express claimed a Top-Up Bonus of HK$1.5 million with his third win from four starts in Hong Kong.
Avdulla earlier combined with David Hall to win the Class 4 BOCHK Cross-border Services Handicap on Star Club before triumphing atop Michael Chang’s Lost Child in the Class 4 BOCHK Wealth Management Handicap before the Australian made it four on Size’s impressive young stayer Ensued.
Tony Cruz-trained Champion Dragon, a LONGINES HKIR entrant, proved too classy in landing the Class 2 BOCHK SME In One Handicap under Alexis Badel before Pierre Ng consolidated his place at the head of the 2023/24 trainers’ championship with Galaxy Patch’s success in the Class 3 BOCHK BOC Pay Handicap under Karis Teetan.
Antoine Hamelin struck aboard Douglas Whyte’s Tamra Blitz in the BOCHK “Banking TrendyToo” Handicap.
Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday 22 November.