by David Morgan
Benno Yung had a plan and it all came together at Happy Valley this afternoon, Sunday, 30 October when Precision King (128lb) held off pressing rivals in the day’s feature, the Class 2 Hong Kong Golf Club Centenary Cup Handicap, a win that sealed a double for the trainer.
The best laid plans can often go awry, however, and that was almost the case for Yung at declaration stage when his doughty galloper was only first standby for the 12-runner 1650m feature, race seven on the card. But lady luck stepped in on Saturday morning when Photon Willie failed to eat up and was withdrawn with a case of inappetence. Precision King made the cut.
“I targeted this race, this has been the plan, so I was disappointed when he was only a standby,” Yung said after the eight-year-old, a 23/1 chance, had claimed a fifth win at start 37 and a first at the distance.
“Luckily he got in and the plan was back on. The horse is getting old and doesn’t have the speed he used to have so I thought the 1650 metres would be better for him.”
Nash Rawiller, originally booked for the Paul O’Sullivan-trained withdrawal, jumped aboard the Yung galloper.
“He’s got good tactical speed and he did a good job to get across,” Rawiller said. “He got left alone and I was able to rate him where I was happy. I felt, going past the rock, he had a pretty soft time, and into the last six hundred metres I let him quicken up. It was a good win.
“He was actually a bit lost in the straight and was waiting for them a little bit,” the jockey added. “When they came at him he picked up again. He was just doing what he had to do and when they came to beat him he found, so it was a good effort.”
Precision King clung on by a neck from the John Moore-trained Cheeky Too (127lb), with the David Ferraris-trained Pikachu (122lb), the 2.4 jolly, a half-length third. The winning time was 1m 41.89s.
Yung had hit the board one race earlier with Rapid Triumph (125lb) in the Class 4 Dandelion Handicap (1650m), which provided a welcome first win of the season for the oft-overlooked Opie Bosson.
The two-time New Zealand champion has found rides hard to come by this season, despite performing consistently well in defeat. Rapid Triumph, a 16/1 shot, was only Bosson’s 51st mount of the current campaign.
“I needed it,” he said. “When you’ve had so many outs, it helps. It’s been frustrating and I’ve found it really tough. I’m just glad I’ve got a win.
“The horse was just a bit slowly away when he ran fourth for me last time and got a fair way back, he hit the line quite strongly that day though so the important thing today was to bounce him out of that good draw (5) and get him a little bit closer. He travelled beautifully throughout.
“He came up underneath me from about the six or seven hundred-metre point, so I knew I had a bit of horse there, and I saw the horse in front laying off the fence so I’ve thought I’ll just wait for the inside run and he cruised up to the leader.”
Rapid Triumph drew ahead to a three quarter-length success over the Tony Millard-trained Giant Turtle (122lb), with the 3.9 favourite Super Sprinter (129lb) a further neck back in third.
Yung had plenty of praise for Bosson: “He’s a good jockey and I’m happy to use him, he just hasn’t had enough support. The horse jumped well and Opie got him in a good position – everything was spot on.
“Last time the horse was a bit unlucky, he was squeezed out at the jump so was a bit far back, so that was a good run last start. This time everything went as hoped.”
Blocker Dee (125lb) backed up to make it two from two for the season with a gutsy win in the day’s finale, the Class 2 Roselle Handicap (1200m). Trainer Caspar Fownes’ five-year-old now has three wins, all at the course and distance, from nine Hong Kong starts.
Jockey Karis Teetan earned his fee in a race that proved far from straightforward for the Australian-bred gelding. After a tough passage, Blocker Dee and Teetan fought off a late charge from the Silvestre de Sousa-ridden Flying Tourbillon to score by a head, with the Me Tsui-trained Dragon General a half-length third.
“It was a very, very gutsy win – nothing has gone his way,” Teetan said. “He came from an outside draw (11), the horse one-off made me work the whole of the back straight to get past him and when I got to the front they didn’t leave me alone. In the straight he quickened up and then he started laying, but when the other horse came to him he actually went again.
“He’s a really nice horse, he’s full of ability. Today nothing has gone his way, he worked the whole back straight and he still gave me a nice kick, so imagine what he’ll do when he’s sitting box seat.”
Fownes continued his golden form at Happy Valley with a double, having also won race two, the Class 5 Bellflower Handicap (1800m) with the Joao Moreira-ridden Sweet Bean.
Flying Tourbillon’s narrow failure in the last meant that his handler, Ricky Yiu, left Happy Valley with a double in the bag. Yiu teamed up with Kei Chiong to claim the eighth race with Molly’s Jade Star, the Class 3 Cornflower Handicap (1200m), while Neil Callan drove the brave Packing Dragon to a hard-fought win in race nine, the Class 3 Hydrangea Handicap (1800m).
Hong Kong racing resumes with an all-weather fixture at Sha Tin on Wednesday evening, 2 November.
The Benno Yung-trained Precision King takes the day��s feature, the Hong Kong Golf Club Centenary Cup Handicap, under Nash Rawiller
Opie Bosson gets off the mark for the season on the Benno Yung-trained Rapid Triumph.
Blocker Dee and Karis Teetan combine to snare the last, the Class 2 Roselle Handicap.