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Benno Yung trains 300th Hong Kong winner

April 4, 2023 at 3:46:07 AM

In a season of landmarks, Benno Yung became the latest Hong Kong racing participant to reach a significant milestone by posting his 300th winner at Sha Tin on Sunday (2 April) when Easy Snip narrowly claimed the Class 4 Kam Tin River Handicap (1200m) under Jerry Chau.

In a season of landmarks, Benno Yung became the latest Hong Kong racing participant to reach a significant milestone by posting his 300th winner at Sha Tin on Sunday (2 April) when Easy Snip narrowly claimed the Class 4 Kam Tin River Handicap (1200m) under Jerry Chau.

Granted a trainers’ licence ahead of the 2013/14 season, Yung previously served as an assistant trainer to Christopher Cheung, Tony Millard and John Size after riding for several seasons. With 22 wins overall this term, Yung has continued to underline his reputation as a prolific trainer of winners on Sha Tin’s dirt surface, where he leads the current standings with 10 winners to date.

“300 is a good milestone. I’d like to say thanks to the owner, Mr Ng, who’s given me a lot of support and never interfered with my planning and decisions about how to train the horse. He’s a lovely owner who’s given me great support,” Yung, 64 said.

“I just try to keep the horses in good health. That’s my major thing. I believe if horses are in good health, they’ll win for you. I just try to do my best. To be honest, I didn’t count how much I had so far. I just try to get every single horse to get the best result.”

While Yung’s milestone pales in magnitude against those recently reached by Zac Purton (1,500 Hong Kong wins) and Tony Cruz (1,000 wins at Sha Tin), his achievement came as South Africans Luke Ferraris and Douglas Whyte combined for their first success together when The Good Deal swept to victory in the Class 5 Lam Tsuen River Handicap (1200m).

“It was nice to ride a winner for Douglas,” Ferraris, 21, said. “We were joking about it and the full circle from the days I was sitting on the fence watching him (13-time Hong Kong champion jockey Whyte) ride, so to ride a winner for him is pretty special. It’s a bit overdue, but I’m happy it’s come.”

Whyte said: “He (Ferraris) hasn’t had that many rides (for me), to be fair to him. He’s had a couple and he’s knocked up a few places. He rode him (The Good Deal) a treat the other day and there was no reason not to give him the ride back.”

Whyte praised Harry Bentley’s enterprising ride on Wonder Years after the gelding’s triumph in the Class 4 Sha Tau Kok River Handicap (2000m). Urged along to maintain contact at the tail of the field leaving the straight, Wonder Years then made a searching run from the 1200m mark before reaching a lead he would never surrender.

“Harry summed it up beautifully. I said to him to get going whenever you feel the horse is travelling, but he got going a long way out and it was the winning move,” Whyte said. “He’s been a good horse to my stable, he’s over 17 hands – a big boy – and he’s now mature. The giving ground has helped him and the races in Hong Kong are not long enough for him, but he’s done a good job so far.”

Purton believes Romantic Laos, winner of the second section of the Class 4 Ng Tung River Handicap (1400m) for Jamie Richards, can continue to develop with experience. A Hong Kong International Sale graduate, the Pins gelding had been unplaced in three previous outings until today’s breakthrough.

“He showed early on in his trials that there was something here, but he just needed a few runs and he needed to get up to a distance that was going to be suitable for him,” Purton said. “On race day, he sweats, he jig-jogs, he carries on. He needs to learn to accept it a bit better. He’s getting better, he’s going the right way.”

Purton took his tally to 110 wins for the campaign when Richards-trained Alacrity showcased decent staying potential with a powerful display in the Class 3 Tan Shan River Handicap (1800m) to earn a HK$1 million PP Bonus.

“He’s had a couple of runs here now and he’s stepped up to a trip that’s more suitable,” Purton said of the four-year-old, who was imported from Chile as a Group 1 winner. “The speed was nice and then he just did the rest. I thought he was pretty soft on the line, so he’s got more there.”

The win gave Richards his first Sha Tin double and 23 wins for the campaign.

Alexis Badel combined with Ricky Yiu in a reprise of the duo’s BMW Hong Kong Derby success with Voyage Bubble when Spirited Express claimed the Class 2 Beas River Handicap (1600m) before teaming with Tony Millard aboard Speed Fay Fay in the first section of the Class 4 Ng Tung River Handicap (1400m).

“Alexis rode a lovely race and he got him out of the pens very quickly – sometimes he can be quite sluggish. The horse has dropped down nicely in the handicap and it was a lovely win. Good to have,” Millard said.

Yiu was confident Spirited Express would perform in today’s going after studying the former Kiwi’s form in New Zealand when he won five Group races as Need I Say More when trained by Jamie Richards.

“His form in New Zealand was mostly on a yielding track, so the horse enjoyed it very much today,” Yiu said. “One of the reasons I like this horse is because he tries hard and he’s consistent. I would think he has more to give.”

Yiu moved into outright second in the 2022/23 Hong Kong Trainers’ Championship when Silvestre de Sousa guided Golden Artie through a tight gap before landing the Class 3 Pearce Memorial Challenge Cup Handicap (1400m).

Golden Artie collected a HK$1 million PP Bonus for his owners, leaving Yiu with 45 wins for the season, second only to John Size’s 48.

Dennis Yip’s Brilliant Life effortlessly clinched the Class 4 Nam Chung River Handicap (1000m) under Vincent Ho after being solidly supported. Clocking 56.92s, the former Kiwi surged to a three-and-a-half length margin before Matthew Chadwick hunted Brave Dreams along the fence to snare the Class 3 Shek Sheung River Handicap (1200m) for Tony Cruz.

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Thursday (6 April).

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