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Jerry Chau shines at Happy Valley with his first Hong Kong treble

Apprentice Jerry Chau sealed his first Hong Kong treble at Happy Valley on Wednesday when the Tony Cruz-trained Buddies took the finale, the Class 2 High West Handicap (1650m).

Jerry Chau celebrates the win, photo Hong Kong Jockey Club

“It feels like a dream – it’s amazing, everything went to plan, it’s just unbelievable,” the 20-year-old said.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club Apprentice Jockeys’ School product returned to Hong Kong from Australia at the back-end of last season and is indentured to second-season trainer Douglas Whyte, best known as Hong Kong’s iconic 13-time champion jockey.

“He’s got a lot of people behind him and I think that he’s showing everybody, including himself, that with the help and the support, he can be a very competitive rider in Hong Kong,” Whyte said.

Chau has returned seven wins from the first 12 race meetings this term, including his maiden treble, but sits out the next two meetings due to suspension.

“I have a break coming up but after that I’ll just keep working hard. I won’t sleep very well tonight though, I start work tomorrow at 4am to work five horses,” Chau said.

Whyte, Hong Kong’s winning-most jockey with 1,813 wins and an all-time prize money record of more than HK$1.5 billion, praised his apprentice for tonight’s performance.

“He’s got lovely balance,” Whyte said. “He’s got a lovely seat on a horse, he still needs to fine tune his start to the straight, his positioning and relaxing a horse and staying out of trouble, but he’s got a lovely style about him and the most important thing is that his horses run for him - if a horse runs for you that’s where it all starts.

“I have been helping him, but it’s not just me it’s the whole force behind him: Felix Coetzee does an amazing job with the apprentices, and so does Amy Chan - he has a good group behind him.”

Chau’s treble included two wins for the Cruz stable. The first of those came aboard Bullish Brother in section two of the Class 4 Mount Kellett Handicap (1200m), before Buddies added the extra gloss to the rider’s night.

“Bullish Brother was really tough, I knew in the last 200 metres though that he could pass the leader, so I just kept his momentum and he did well,” Chau said.

Chau kicked off his three-timer with victory aboard the David Hall-trained Sumstreetsumwhere in the Class 4 Victoria Gap Handicap (1650m).

The 10lb claimer’s other two mounts on the card finished second and third.

Back-to-back for Tashidelek

Whyte was not to be completely outshone by his apprentice: the legendary jockey-turned-trainer ensured he didn’t go home empty handed when Tashidelek took the Class 3 Mount Davis Handicap (1800m) under Alexis Badel.

“He’s done a great job - I’ve only had him for two starts and he’s won both of them so if he can make his way to Class 2 then he’s done a great job,” Whyte said.

The Street Cry gelding joined Whyte’s stable in the off season from stable of the recently retired John Moore, and has won both of his starts for his new yard.

“He stepped into my yard and he hasn’t put a foot wrong,” Whyte noted. “He’s been a pleasure to train and he’s probably one of the favourite horses in the yard, not because he’s won but because of his whole attitude - he’s a beautiful horse to be around and he’s a lovely horse to be a part of and be associated with.”

French ace Badel sent the gelding forward from gate 10 to sit outside the lead, before taking over at the 300m mark to record a half-length victory.

“He’s a nice horse - he’s going well,” Badel said. “The slow tempo with a wide gate was a big advantage for him because I was able to travel easily enough on the bit and didn’t have to use too much energy to get him to travel – it was a great effort.”

Hong Kong racing continues this Sunday (18 October) at Sha Tin with two G2 contests, the Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m) and the Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m).

                   
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