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Ricky Yiu propels himself to second in the championship with Sha Tin four-timer

Wins to Excellent Fighter, Colonel, Darci Joy and Adefill mean the veteran trainer is all but on track to match his 2019-20 title-winning haul of 67

The man himself was in Melbourne for the Inglis Premier Yearling Sale, but it was the Ricky Yiu Poon-fai show at Sha Tin on Sunday, with the veteran handler landing a four-timer to move into second in the trainers’ premiership.

Wins to Excellent Fighter, Colonel, Darci Joy and Adefill propelled Yiu to 37 wins for the campaign and saw him leapfrog reigning champion trainer Frankie Lor Fu-chuen in the title race.

After eight wins in January and seven in February to go with a white-hot start to March, the 65-year-old trails leader John Size by only four wins after 50 meetings.

So well is Yiu travelling, he is all but on track to match the personal-best haul of 67 wins he landed on his way to the trainers’ premiership in 2019-20.

It was Silvestre de Sousa and Karis Teetan who benefited from Yiu’s big afternoon, sharing the spoils with two wins apiece, and the former is loving an association with the trainer that has netted three victories this week.

“His stable is on fire at the moment. He’s been having a lot of winners and I couldn’t be more pleased to have the rides I had today for him,” said De Sousa, who saluted aboard Reach Goal for Yiu on Wednesday night before following up with wins on Excellent Fighter and Colonel.

It is Excellent Fighter’s victory in the Class Four Cumberland Handicap (1,200m) that is likely to excite Yiu most, with the four-year-old taking up the running from gate 10 before pulling away to salute by two and a half lengths.

“He was good, especially from that draw. He bounced out quick, and I don’t think it was a strong race,” De Sousa said of Excellent Fighter, who boasts two wins from four starts after saluting on debut in December.

“Ricky’s idea was to be a bit further back, but the horse took me to the front and he just controlled the race from the front. He’s still learning. He’s a lovely moving horse.”

Yiu’s four-timer could well have only been a treble if not for the withdrawal of Little Player on Saturday morning, which meant Colonel was promoted to the Class Five Essex Handicap (1,200m) and presented with the opportunity to end a run of outs spanning 32 races and dating back to January 2021.

Darci Joy travelled nicely under Teetan in the box seat from barrier one and never left the rail on his way to a two-and-a-half-length victory in the Class Four Kent Handicap (1,600m), while Adefill rung up a hat-trick of victories in the Class Three Somerset Handicap (1,200m) on the all-weather track.

A four-year-old son of Deep Field, Adefill has been a revelation since Yiu opted to switch him to the dirt, following up a pair of Class Four victories – the first by a length and a half and the second by six and a quarter lengths – with a neck success under Teetan in his first Class Three appearance.

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