Peter Ho Leung’s 26-year training career ended on Sunday when his five runners in this season’s last meeting failed to deliver the two wins required for him to avoid receiving his third and final strike.
Ho saddled up Packing Succeeder, Wood On Fire, My Intelligent, Amazing Victory and Happy Daily at Sha Tin. However, the closest the 63-year-old handler came to visiting the winner’s enclosure was when Happy Daily finished a neck runner-up to Simple Hedge in the Class Three All You Wish Handicap (1,400m).
The trainer of 634 winners since the Jockey Club licenced him ahead of the 1997-98 season, Ho confirmed he would not appear before the licensing committee to plead for a stay of execution.
“The rules are the rules. We have to respect the rules under which we play,” said Ho, who prepared Packing Winner and Mr Medici to win the 2008 and 2010 editions of the Champions & Chater Cup (2,400m), respectively, when it was a local Group One race.
Departing trainer Richard Gibson was not on course to celebrate his penultimate Hong Kong runner, Ernest Feeling, swooping under French jockey Antoine Hamelin to win the Class Five Miraculous Handicap (1,400m).
No Gibson-prepared galloper won more contests this term than Ernest Feeling, who contributed three of the British handler’s 10 victories – the same number as Happy Valley sprint specialist One For All.
Gibson, whose stable stars during his dozen seasons in Hong Kong included Akeed Mofeed, Giant Treasure, Gold-Fun and this season’s Group One Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m) champion Wellington, finished with 287 victories in the city.
In addition to Ho and Gibson, whose 10 wins this term did not meet the performance benchmark, the Jockey Club will issue first strikes to Dennis Yip Chor-hong and Tony Millard and strike two to Me Tsui Yu-sak.
Encountered overcame his aversion to Sha Tin to claim the Class One Hong Kong Racehorse Owners Association Trophy (1,600m) and propel Manfred Man Ka-leung to his new personal best for victories in a season.
A four-time winner at Happy Valley this season and Man’s second highest-rated galloper after superstar speedster Lucky Sweynesse, Encountered made it two Sha Tin successes from 10 starts across both surfaces in the New Territories to lift Man to 44 victories, one more than he achieved in the 2009-10 campaign.
Elsewhere on the twilight card, which took place in wet and windy conditions, John Size (four), Zac Purton (three), Hugh Bowman (two) and Vincent Ho Chak-yiu (two) enjoyed multiple triumphs.
The widest winning margin of the meeting was the one and a half lengths by which first starter Enterprise Attack won the Class Three Pingwu Spark Handicap (1,200m) under Tony Cruz Award recipient Ho.
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