There was some symmetry in Richard Fourie riding Andy Leung Ting-wah’s 400th career winner and a fair bit of fung shui as well, according to the colourful trainer.
Fourie had a treble, his first in Hong Kong, with two of his wins for Leung – who reached a quadruple century of winners with Creative Union in race two and made it 401 in the following event with King On Earth.
Leung is fast approaching retirement, with this season his last, and the milestone had him reminiscing about his first winner, A Fortune, back in 1995.
“I remember it like it was yesterday, Basil Marcus rode my first winner and Richard rode a lot for him in South Africa after Basil became a trainer, so I had a feeling that Richard would ride number 400 for me,” said Leung, who put the achievement in perspective by saying – “You try counting from one to 400,” he said. “And see how long that takes you. It’s a lot of winners and something they cannot take away from me.”
Fourie wasn’t aware his former mentor had ridden for Leung, but when told of the coincidence, said “That’s pretty neat.”
“When I transferred to Capetown as a young jockey I didn’t have much success at first – I had something like one winner in six months – I was about to give up and I started riding for Mr Marcus, he took me under his wing and I just bloomed,” Fourie said.
Similarly, and somewhat surprisingly, Fourie has struck up a combination with Leung that has helped spark his impressive rookie season – five of his 30 winners coming from the stable.
“It just works, there’s great understanding and chemistry between us, too,” Fourie said. “He gives you confidence. He knows his form, I haven’t been here as long but he has seen plenty of horses come and go – so he helps me a lot and makes my life easier.”
Leung came decked out in his lucky bright red suit and tie, taking fashion guidance from a fung shui expert that instructed him that the meeting coincided with a “fire and earth” day. “That’s why we went with red,” he said. “The colour of fire.”
When asked to compare Fourie with Marcus, Leung quipped: “this kid rides exactly to my instructions, where Basil, he had a few of his own ideas.”
Creative Union has now won four races this season, a good effort one of the scrawniest horses in town, weighing it at around 950 pounds, and who started the season deep in Class Five.
“I said we would get five wins out of him before he retired,” Fourie said. “He has won back-to-back now and as long as he stays well and we can keep him ticking over we have two months in the season still and he should win again.”
King On Earth also made it two straight when he swooped late in a Class Five.
“He ran a very good race today and he was hampered for much of the race,” Fourie said. “I came out a little bit wide earlier than normal, with around 600m left to go. He just ran dead straight.”
The only two suspensions for the day came out of the race and both involved the same horse – Idyllic Wind. Keith Yeung Ming-lun was given two days for checking Idyllic Wind and then Money Win Wins, while Idyllic Wind’s rider Eddie Lai Wai-ming was also given two days and fined $20,000 for careless riding.