Local lads take half the card at Sha Tin
It adds cheer to a positive start for Hong Kong racing
It may be turbulent times in Hong Kong but, on Sunday afternoon, the racing world was agog as they took in the action at the opening day of the 2019/20 season.
If the streets were jammed, so too the racecourse at Sha Tin, where a crowd of 68,271 cheered on their sporting heroes - two-legged and four-legged - in an atmosphere of positivity.
It brought a lump to the throat of the The Hong Kong Jockey Club's chief executive officer, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges.
He said: "We know that we are in challenging times here in Hong Kong but I found it very encouraging to see the positive energy at the racecourse.
"The first-race atmosphere, the excited anticipation from the racegoers, was extremely good and the results, from a sporting point of view, were extremely pleasing.
"It was also great to see Douglas Whyte have his first winner as a trainer with only his second runner."
The CEO was also delighted with the five successes on the day for Hong Kong's home-grown riders, all of whom are products of the world-renowned HKJC Apprentice Jockeys' School.
"Our Hong Kong-grown talent has done extremely well," he said. "You can see the confidence in Vincent Ho, in how he rides, and it is encouraging for them to win five of the 10 races despite the significant increase in competition from our new arrivals, who also did well - without winning."
For the record, local riders swept the last five races.
Ho was successful on Golden Sixty in the seventh and Cordyceps in the last.
ML Yeung started the ball rolling with a win on Ka Ying Master in Race 6 and Gold Crest in the eighth.
Sharing the spotlight was KH Chan, who won Race 9 on the Tony Cruz-trained Multimillion.
The on-course attendance, as noted by the CEO, was the fourth highest in the last 25 years.
"We are very pleased to see the total attendance at 68,000 - that is a positive outcome and exceeded the expectation I had," Engelbrecht-Bresges admitted.
"We have got the first race meeting off the ground in a challenging situation. I hope we can continue with this positive momentum."
Engelbrecht-Bresges also thanked the city's racing fans for the "tremendous support and the resilience they have shown" in a challenging situation.
"We have got the first race meeting off with a positive start and that emphasises the strong support we have from our fans," he said.
"I would also like to thank our staff for their dedication to make this happen." - HKJC