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Michael Dee’s first Hong Kong race ride is a winner: ‘that’s what dreams are made of’




Michael Dee declared “that’s what dreams are made of” after the Kiwi jockey was victorious in his first Hong Kong race at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.


Less than 24 hours after landing in the city to begin his seven-week stint, Dee succeeded where nine riders had failed – including five-time Hong Kong champion jockey Zac Purton – by coaxing a win out of David Hayes-trained sprinter Starry Night.


Dee settled Starry Night, who had registered one second and two thirds from his previous 14 starts, on the rail in the second group of gallopers. Inside the final 300m, Dee manoeuvred Starry Night off the fence and set out in pursuit of Strive For Glory, catching the long-time leader in the shadows of the post.


Starry Night won the Class Five Cornflower Handicap (1,000m) at $7.7 by a neck from $3.4 favourite Strive For Glory, with the speedster whom the winner gently nudged in the straight, Goodmanship, third at $5.


“Couldn’t ask for a better start. That’s what dreams are made of. I was hoping I’d come here tonight and it’d be a successful one,” said Dee, who picked up one of indisposed jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu’s eight rides to steer four runners at his first meeting.


“Inside barrier draws help. He jumped really well. I was able to sit him in a prominent position, and he was strong late – a great effort by the horse.”


Dee is back in Hong Kong nine years after he spent two weeks at Sha Tin riding out for local

trainer Derek Cruz and Kiwi handler Paul O’Sullivan.


“I came over on an apprentice exchange just to ride trackwork,” Dee said of his 2014 experience, three years before the first of his 11 Group One successes.


“It was a little teaser then. We’re here now for the big time, and here to make a real go of it.”

Dee made a real go of it on each of his four Happy Valley mounts, making the frame on all of them and getting within a head of victory on another Hayes-conditioned sprinter, Sight Hero, in the second section of the Class Four Jasmine Handicap (1,200m).


The speedster Sight Hero failed to run down was Colonel, whose win snapped the lengthy losing runs of trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai and jockey Dylan Mo Hin-tung, which stood at 66 and 40 defeats, respectively.


Yiu ended the night with a double thanks to Prime Minister’s Class Three Iris Handicap (1,650m) triumph under Derek Leung Ka-chun.


Matthew Chadwick rode a double – Fortune Triple in the Class Five Bellflower Handicap (2,200m) for Me Tsui Yu-sak and Flaming Passion in the first section of the Jasmine Handicap for Frankie Lor Fu-chuen – to improve to 499 Hong Kong career victories.


Chadwick, last season’s most successful local rider, requires one more triumph to join Cruz and Ho as the only home-grown jockeys to register 500 city wins.


Fortune Triple supplied Tsui with his ninth victory of a campaign that is odds on to end with the Jockey Club issuing him with a strike, whereas Flaming Passion lifted Lor’s tally for the term to 55.


The other Happy Valley double went to Lyle Hewitson, under whom London Luckystar won the second section of the Class Four Hyacinth Handicap (1,650m) for Francis Lui Kin-wai and Magic Phoenix won the Class Three Snapdragon Handicap (1,200m) for Jimmy Ting Koon-ho.


Jamie Richards and Purton teamed up with Seasons Wit to win the night’s feature race, the Class Three French May Trophy (1,000m), but it was a blanket finish featuring four sprinters.


Seasons Wit, who had filled the frame in each of his first three races without winning,

responded well to Purton’s urgings to pip Harmony N Blessed by a short head, with back-to-back victor Atomic Energy and comeback galloper Lightning Storm no more than half a length behind the heavily backed $1.8 favourite.


Of the eight assignments Ho missed due to illness, one won – $69 roughie Chrysos upset the odds in the first section of the Hyacinth Handicap for Caspar Fownes and replacement rider Harry Bentley.


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