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Ricky Yiu joins Hong Kong racing’s 1,000-win club with treble

Ricky Yiu has joined Hong Kong racing’s elite by reaching the 1,000-win milestone to match the feats of the city’s most decorated trainers with Hayday’s breakthrough success at Sha Tin on Saturday.

Among the first intake of apprentices in 1972 into The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Apprentice Jockeys’ School, Yiu took out his trainers’ licence in 1995/96 after a brief riding career and was crowned the city’s champion trainer in 2019/20.

Famed by his association with champion gallopers Sacred Kingdom and Fairy King Prawn, Yiu has proven to be a remarkably consistent force and last season saddled his first BMW Hong Kong Derby winner, Voyage Bubble.

With Hayday’s victory in the Class 4 Jordan Handicap (1200m), Yiu is the fourth current trainer to notch 1,000 wins or more along with John Size (1,537), Tony Cruz (1,508) and Caspar Fownes (1,105). Retired handler John Moore holds the Hong Kong record with 1,735 victories.

“I’m glad to have this achievement of 1,000 winners in my career so far, it’s amazing,” said Yiu, who has also savoured elite success in Japan and Dubai. “First of all, you have to have the right horse to travel. They’ve all been good travellers.”

Yiu sealed a double when Jolly Ruler landed the second section of the Class 4 Ho Man Tin Handicap (1400m) under Andrea Atzeni. The trainer made it a treble as Gracious Express broke through in the Class 3 Austin Handicap (1200m) with Brenton Avdulla, collecting a HK$1.5 million PP Bonus for his efforts.  

Yiu has entered Voyage Bubble for the G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) at Tokyo on 2 June in a return clash with Hong Kong middle distance champion Romantic Warrior.

Francis Lui (54) edged to within four wins of catching Pierre Ng (58) in the 2023/24 trainers’ championship with Chancheng Glory’s triumph in the Class 2 Hong Kong China Rugby Cup Handicap (1600m).

The four-year-old, who finished second to Helios Express in the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m), collected a PPG Bonus of HK$1 million.

Keith Yeung advanced to 300 Hong Kong wins courtesy of a double with Master Of All and Awesome Treasure.

“It has been a long journey – I never thought I would achieve that number,” Yeung said. “It’s been very complicated. There have been lots of ups and downs – falls, injuries, good rides, bad rides – and I really want to pay tribute to my first boss, Almond Lee.

“He brought me into the industry and taught me a lot and without all of his help and tutoring I would not be standing here. I also want to thank all the owners, trainers, media and the Club for their support. The Club has supported the jockeys so much with all the physiotherapy, psychology and medical support. I could not do it without them.”

Hong Kong’s champion apprentice in 2009/10, 36-year-old Yeung’s progress has repeatedly been stymied by injury but he was at his best today with a runaway victory aboard Chris So’s Master Of All in the Class 5 Yau Ma Tei Handicap (1400m) and David Hayes-trained Awesome Treasure in the Class 4 Kowloon Cricket Club Centenary Club Cup Handicap (1200m).

Hayes was chuffed for Yeung.

“That’s so good and Keith gave me my first Hong Kong win (Moneymore) when I came back. It was my first runner which was really important to me and Keith won on him, so it’s nice to see him have his 300th winner,” Hayes said. 

So brought up a double with lightly-raced Winning Gold, who landed the first section of the Class 4 Ho Man Tin Handicap (1400m) for Keagan De Melo.

Dylan Mo slotted his first win since 15 November when he piloted Frankie Lor’s Massive Action to an all-the-way success in the Class 3 Tsim Sha Tsui Handicap (1650m, dirt) to end a winless streak of 73 rides.

“I’m very thankful for the owner and trainer for giving me the ride again,” Mo said. “I just try my best to get winners. This season has been a little bit hard but I try very hard to get more support and more wins.”

David Hall extended a fruitful phase with a double, striking first with Ka Ying Victory’s tenacious win in the Class 3 Mong Kok Handicap (1000m) for Alexis Badel. Clocking 55.73s, the Charm Spirit three-year-old surged up the middle of the course to post his first win since striking twice last season as a Griffin.

“He’s still a very young horse in the mind and he was a bit of a handful as a Griffin when he won those couple of races. He broke his nose and he was difficult in the gates so he hasn’t been a straightforward horse,” Hall said.

“Of course, we were expecting a bit better over the first few runs but he was just doing too much and being empty at the finish. It’s just taken him a while to relax enough in his races.

Hall boosted his season’s tally to 34 when Harry Bentley drove Sun Of Makfi to a slender victory in the Class 4 Hung Hom Handicap (1650m, dirt).

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday night..

1000 winners for Ricky Yui, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club

                      
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