It was a night of close calls at Happy Valley on Wednesday night with three races decided by a short-head or less. But in Hong Kong dead-heats don’t come along too often, so when The Show’s muzzle dipped as Regency Honey’s rose in the final stride of the night’s second contest, the Valley crowd drew a collective gasp.
The slow-motion replay suggested a dead-heat between the New Zealand-bred gallopers: the board confirmed it.
“It doesn’t get any tighter!” co-winning jockey Zac Purton said. “I wasn’t sure if I won because we hit the line with our heads out of sync – his was coming down.”
The champion rider booted the Danny Shum-trained Regency Honey for home at the top of the straight only to have the Eddy Lai-ridden The Show peg him in the nick of time.
“I thought I’d won but after the finish I asked Zac and he said he’d won, so then I waited to see,” Lai said.
Lai, 44, landed his third win of the campaign on the Dennis Yip-trained eight-year-old and that placed him within two wins of last season’s overall total. The Jockey Club’s Licensing Committee informed Lai in June that his performance this season would be “closely monitored” as a result of the rider struggling with low returns in recent seasons.
“I’m very happy with the way things are going this season, much better than the last two years,” he said. “I haven’t changed my approach; I’m just working hard like I always do and hopefully I’ll get some rewards. Dennis Yip has supported me a lot, so I’m very thankful for that.” -HKJC