Paul gets early Christ­mas present

Matamata Chronicle - - News - DEN­NIS RYAN

For­mer Mata­mata trainer Paul O’Sul­li­van scored an early Christ­mas present last week when he won the big­gest race of his 10-year Hong Kong ten­ure, the $3 mil­lion Longines Hong Kong Sprint.

Aerov­e­loc­ity, the horse that brought up the big win over a field con­tain­ing the best lo­cal, Euro­pean and Aus­tralian sprint­ers, was a Kiwi-bred, and even more fit­tingly by Pins, the Waikato Stud stal­lion owned by Paul’s brother-in-law Mark Chittick. There to share the big oc­ca­sion at Sha Tin win was Paul’s brother Lance, who had played a big part in se­cur­ing the horse for Hong Kong. The first two weeks of De­cem­ber are spe­cial for Paul, with a birth­day to be­gin with – this year’s was his 55th – fol­lowed hope­fully a few days later by a lead role in Hong Kong’s big­gest race­day of the year. Given the level of com­pe­ti­tion amongst lo­cal sta­bles, com­bined with star per­form­ers from around the globe in town for the four in­ter­na­tional races on the card, that hasn’t al­ways been the case.

Paul has won races on the in­ter­na­tional day un­der­card and has had a hand­ful of plac­ings in the Group One fea­tures, but for the first time this year ev­ery­thing fell into place. Best of all, the horse that brought up the big win was a grad­u­ate of Wex­ford Sta­bles, hav­ing been pur­chased as a year­ling and be­gin­ning his ca­reer here with a de­but win that qual­i­fied him for Hong Kong.

‘‘We’re al­ways in the mar­ket

for

likely sorts that could make the grade up here and he just stood out,’’ Paul re­called when I caught up with him on the dog and bone last week. ‘‘He was in the Wind­sor Park draft and after Lance had done the early in­spec­tions he had him marked as one we had to buy.

‘‘When I ar­rived at Karaka for the sales I could see why Lance liked him so much. He was one of those horses that stood out from the crowd, he had a huge phys­i­cal pres­ence.

At $120,000 the Pins colt cost more than an­tic­i­pated, but now with seven wins from 14 Hong Kong starts he looks cheap. There’s plenty more on the hori­zon too, most likely be­gin­ning with the Dubai World Cup meet­ing in March.

For Paul, the win was spe­cial after a dif­fi­cult year both per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally. Re­cent sea­sons have lacked the fire­power of his early times in Hong Kong, but with a team of more than 50 headed by Aerov­e­loc­ity and promis­ing tal­ent com­ing through, he’s feel­ing very chirpy.

‘‘I’ve got a new as­sis­tant trainer and some good new sys­tems in place, my clien­tele is very strong, and that can only im­prove off the back of this win,’’ he says. ‘‘ That’s how it works any­where, but es­pe­cially up here, so with a bit of luck I’ll be back at Karaka next month pick­ing up some de­cent sorts.’’ *** There are some things in life you can do noth­ing about, one of them the weather, as we all learnt last Wed­nes­day when the Mata­mata Rac­ing Club was hit with an un­sea­sonal weather-bomb.

Hopes of a big day on the track and a rollup crowd there to en­joy the twi­light met­ing were dashed when the fore­cast for strong east­er­lies and rain proved right. The meet­ing was ac­tu­ally lucky to pro­ceed after stew­ards ex­pressed ma­jor con­cerns.

To their credit and that of jock­eys, track staff and all oth­ers in­volved, the meet­ing went ahead. Just to rub it in, the sun came as the field for the last race was lin­ing up at 7.30 but the dam­age had been done.

The orig­i­nal big fields had been dec­i­mated by nu­mer­ous race morn­ing scratch­ings were added to by a fur­ther 17 late scratch­ings after the rack was down­graded. But as al­ready stated the con­di­tions were out of any hu­man con­trol.

So on be­half of the club, well down for those who did end up win­ners – most of all Gra­ham Richard­son for his three – and thanks to those brave souls who did come out to play.

May you back lots of win­ners through the busy hol­i­day pe­riod and we’ll hope­fully see you back on course for Mata­mata’s first race­day of 2015, Fri­day Jan­uary 16.

Photo: HONG KONG JC

CA­REER HIGH: Aerov­e­loc­ity claims a ca­reer-high Hong Kong win for Paul O’Sul­li­van in the Longines Hong Kong Sprint.

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