Justifying generous advance notices, Luke Ferraris savoured maiden Hong Kong success in the best possible fashion by producing a copybook ride on Go Ballistic to win the Class 5 Heung Yip Handicap, simultaneously delivering his father David’s first winner of the 2021/22 season at Happy Valley on Wednesday.
Riding in his 21st race in Hong Kong since relocating from South Africa, the 19-year-old was hoisted into his father’s arms in a telling show of post-race emotion after Go Ballistic notched his first victory at his 27th start.
Luke Ferraris triumphs for the first time in Hong Kong, photo Hong Kong Jockey Club
“I didn’t even know he had that in him,” the talented Group 1-winning jockey said of his father’s embrace. “It must have been adrenalin. The last time he did that (lifted his son into his arms), I must have been five (years old).
“Very fitting that the first winner was for Dad. I’m over the moon to have my first winner in Hong Kong. It’s a bit of a feat and to have it for Dad is the cherry on top.”
Raised in Hong Kong before returning to the land of his birth, Ferraris is the most recent addition to Hong Kong’s decorated riding ranks and he has quickly learned the value of opportunities.
“It’s a lot more competitive here. The opportunities are harder to come by than elsewhere. The racing here is very well run and getting the opportunities is the big thing because if you don’t have the horse, you don’t have the horse.”
Ferraris could scarcely have done more to showcase his talents than with his tactically brilliant display aboard Go Ballistic in a display which left his father suitably impressed.
“It's like a dream for us,” Ferraris Senior said. “His father might be battling, but at least his son's on his way, so I'm very happy with that.
“He's a top rider, he's a multiple Group One-winning jockey and he can hold his own anywhere. The trainers will see that.”
As for Go Ballistic, Ferraris was pleasantly surprised by the gelding’s effort.
“He's been dreadfully disappointing, he's by a very average stallion Duke Of Marmalade - a very poor stallion - but he looks a million dollars, so hopefully he can win in Class 4,” he said.
Vincent Ho and Frankie Lor claimed the programme’s feature – the Class 3 Hong Kong Country Club Challenge Cup Handicap (1650m) – after He’s Remarkable gelding Fa Fa extended late to claim Surrealism (Luke and David Ferraris).
“He’s still keen in the mornings at trackwork but in time I think he can get 1800m,” Lor said. “For the time being, we’ll keep him at Happy Valley.”
The success gave Fa Fa a share of the lead in the DBS x Manulife Million Challenge, which involves Class 3 contests above through until 23 February.
David Hall’s Classic Posh also sits in the series’ joint leadership after a sublime Zac Purton ride enabled the Testa Rossa gelding to snare the Class 3 Tai Shue Wan Handicap (1200m).
Jumping from barrier 12, Purton angled the six-year-old from the outside gate to the rail by the first bend before scything his way past tiring runners in the home straight.
Harmony And Rich also steamed into contention after a dashing display in the Class 2 Wong Chuk Hang Handicap (1200m) for Matthew Chadwick and Me Tsui in course record time of 1m 08.46s, toppling the previous mantle held by Ivictory.
Earlier, Francis Lui and Vincent Ho teamed for their first winner – individually and collectively - of the season with Spicy Grill in the Class 5 Nam Fung Handicap (1200m), a success Lui hopes is a portent of many more triumphs.
“Hopefully the winners keep coming now,” Lui, who prepared 61 winners last season, said. “The barrier (gate one) was the difference tonight.”
Spicy Grill equalled Great Harvest’s class record of 1m 09.62s in the process.
Two races later, Great Harvest again showed a decisive affinity with the city circuit’s 1200m course with a fourth victory from six attempts at the trip in the first section of the Class 4 Shum Wan Handicap under Alexis Badel.
Antoine Hamelin joined the cluster of seasonal first-time victors when the Frenchman drove heavily backed Baltic Whisper in the second section of the Class 4 Shum Wan Handicap (1200m) for Danny Shum.
Karis Teetan continued a strong opening to the season with victory on Jimmy Ting-trained Lucky Diamond in the Class 4 Island Handicap (1650m).
Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday.