Mighty Giant (NZ) (Power) took another step up the ladder with an impressive performance in the Class 3 Dorset Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday, 19 April.
The win completed a treble for Ricky Yiu, a return that gave the handler impetus in his quest for a first champion trainer title. He ended the day with 51 wins, two more than his previous best tally of 49, which he achieved in the 2010/11 season.
Yiu headed home with a four-win cushion over his nearest rival Francis Lui at the top of the trainers’ premiership.
“People messaged me to let me know I’d broken my personal record,” Yiu revealed. “It’s a great achievement but if I win the premiership, then I’ll be more than happy.
“Winning these races today has given me a big kick, it’s put a bigger margin on Francis in second. I definitely believe I have a good enough string to go on and win the title.”
Mighty Giant had his work cut out in the early stages under Zac Purton but had enough quality to settle third as Smoothies (Rothesay) and Thunder Stomp (Fastnet Rock) set a strong tempo. The big four-year-old needed help to find his balance at the top of the straight but once he did he cranked through his gears and was a cosy two and a quarter lengths to the good at the wire, in a time of 1m 21.12s.
“He looked impressive in the end but he was hard work in the run,” Purton said. “They were too quick for him early, with the big weight he found it too hard to gather momentum at the start – the pace was on pretty much the whole way and the leader kicked for home early.
“Having worked early, off the bit mid-race and chasing early, it was a good tough effort to pick up and still get the job done. The best part of his race was the last 100 (metres), it was really the only time he got going.”
Yiu knows the Power gelding will be better over a mile but is likely to stick to 1400m for now.
“He’ll be up in Class 2 and it’s tempting to go to the mile but the move up in class and the step up in distance is a lot of work to do at once. Maybe we’ll stay at 1400 metres for one more race,” he said.
Earlier, Team Power (Excelebration) gave Yiu his landmark 50th for the campaign in the Class 4 Norfolk Handicap (1400m). The four-year-old is a graduate of the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale where he was knocked down to the $100,000 bid of Bruce and Maureen Harvey’s Ascot Farm from the Lyndhurst Stud draft.
Another Karaka sales graduate provided leading rider Joao Moreira with the third of a winning treble on the day when Fantasy (Sizzling) took out a Class 3 1200m contest. Purchased by trainer Danny Shum for $240,000 from the Curraghmore draft at the 2017 Ready To Run Sale, the $1.6 favourite powered over the top of the front-running Team Spirit (Strategic) to score by half a length.
“He’s a young horse and he’s going forward every time he goes out there to race. Danny said to me before the race that he’d put on better condition this time and he was 100 percent right. It’s a great training effort,” Moreira said.