RICKY YIU MAINTAINS HIS GOOD FORM IN THE SHA TIN DOUBLES DAY


Ricky Yiu Poon-fai resumed his outstanding form on Sunday at Sha Tin, snagging a double to win for the eighth time in a row.

Yiu has stormed to 46 winners for the season, placing sixth in the trainers' championship, after a sluggish start to the season with only one win in each of September and October.

Sweet Diamond's effort in the Class Four Shek Nga Shan Handicap (1,200m) gave the 64-year-old his maiden win, with Frenchman Alexis Badel in the saddle scoring his first win for Yiu.

Derek Leung Ka-chun piloted All Riches to win in the Class Four Sheung Yeung Shan Handicap, giving Yiu his second triumph (1,400m).

It was the 13th time this season that Leung and Yiu have teamed up to salute, with a strike rate of 21%.

All Riches, a $7.1 chance in his sixth career start, pushed his way to the front down the back straight and won by two and a half lengths over Super Red Dragon after straightening for home.

"I was a little concerned before the race because he's the type of horse who likes to be on top of the ground, and if it's raining or yielding, it's not in his favor," Yiu said after the four-year-triumph old's on a good surface despite recent rain.

"However, the horse is improving, and the jockey is quite familiar with him, so he was able to command the tempo and win very comfortably, which was a little surprise."

Benno Yung Tin-pang earned a pair of chocolates with Leather Vanguard and Excellent Daddy.

Leather Vanguard, a Hong Kong International Sale graduate, also broke his maiden, saluting in the second portion of the Sheung Yeung Shan Handicap on his second start.

Leather Vanguard hadn't been seen in almost six months since finishing runner-up under Keith Yung Ming-lun in December, after pulling up from that first attempt with lameness.

The three-year-old let down nicely when given free air at the 400m to beat Stunning Impact by a neck despite the lengthy hiatus.

"He did a good job," Yung remarked, "since he's still young and needs time to mature."

"He's still a little frail, so it's time for him to bulk up, but he had a good draw and a good jockey today, and he did a good job, and I think he'll improve as he grows."

Excellent Daddy came from behind to win the Class Three Mount Nicholson Handicap (1,200m) in the final stages, giving Leung a hat trick on a day of doubles at Sha Tin, with trainer Frankie Lor Fu-chuen and jockeys Dylan Mo Hin-tung and Jerry Chau Chun-lok also in action.

With nine games remaining in the 2021-22 season, Leung has 40 victories on the season, surpassing his previous personal record of 39 victories.

In the competition for the Tony Cruz Award as the leading local jockey, Leung is five wins behind Matthew Chadwick, who won on Sunday aboard All For St Paul's, while Vincent Ho Chak-yiu is in the middle with 43 wins.

After striking for the third time in five Hong Kong outings, Tony Cruz is expected to give his versatile galloper Campione a chance to hunt down a fourth win of the season.

Campione, who had won all three of his races in Italy prior to being imported, was a $3.9 chance in the Class Two Lai Pek Shan Handicap (1,200m) on the all-weather track, and he did not disappoint his fans, leading throughout and winning by a length and a quarter from Ka Ying Master.

Cruz is considering returning to the grass for the Class One 25th Anniversary Hong Kong Reunification Cup (1,200m) on July 1 after winning twice on the all-weather track and once on the turf in Hong Kong.

"He's a wonderful horse with a lot of promise." In discussions with the owner, I may give him one more start for the season. Campione was the youngest horse in the race today, and he won beautifully," the trainer remarked of the winner, whose rating will climb into the upper 90s.

Matthew Poon Ming-fai was in the driver's seat for the victory, his 30th of the season.


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