'Iron Man' Callan on the double
Hong Kong race round-up "I knew when I went down the back straight, when I let him roll, that he was full of running and I thought he was going to hit the line strongly, so I let him go and he did just that." - Jockey Neil Callan, on Sharp Sailor
Cries of "Iron Man" rang out from one or two members of what must be assumed to be the unofficial Neil Callan fan club after the Irishman had swept the field aboard the Danny Shum-trained SHARP SAILOR in Race 6 at Happy Valley on Thursday night.
That sealed a double for Callan, who was also on the mark in the opener, the Class 4 Saturn Handicap over 1,650m atop 8.6 chance ACCLAIMED LIGHT for trainer Paul O'Sullivan.
Acclaimed Light's win was a grinding, no-frills effort.
It was a gradual advance through the field, wide into the stretch and squeezed past a rival to a short head verdict in a four-way photo.
Sharp Sailor's victory in the Class 3 Mars Handicap over 2,200m had a touch more panache but no less grit.
Callan's decisive mid-race move urged his mount to the fore from a rearward position, the four-year-old skirting 10 of his 11 rivals within a 250m stretch to take it up with less than 800m remaining. Once there, the British import couldn't be caught.
Jockey Zac Purton, alive to the surge, tracked the winner aboard topweight Prawn Baba but the lightly-raced four-year-old lacked the necessary turn of pace and could do no more than stay on dourly to within three- quarters of a length at the line.
That was the third second in as many Hong Kong starts for the John Size trainee.
I knew when I went down the back straight, when I let him roll, that he was full of running and I thought he was going to hit the line strongly, so I let him go and he did just that.Jockey Neil Callan, on Sharp Sailor
Sharp Sailor's win, at 14-1, was his first in 10 starts in Hong Kong and first since a 2,000m handicap success at Newmarket in England in August last year when trained by Marco Botti.
"When he won that day in England, at Newmarket, he made a long sustained run," said Callan.
"It's been done before here in these staying races. Everybody knows these races are a little bit tricky but the pace was slacking over quite a sustained period, so I decided to make a move.
"I knew when I went down the back straight, when I let him roll, that he was full of running and I thought he was going to hit the line strongly, so I let him go and he did just that."
Victory Boys, the 3.1 favourite, was trapped on the rail when Callan set the race alight. David Hall's charge ran on for third, three-and-a-quarter lengths behind. - HKJC