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Amber Sky teaches his elders a lesson
25th Jun 2012
South China Morning Post - Michael Cox - Monday, 25 June 2012
Mark du Plessis is reluctant to attach the "best" tag to horses, as in "best I have ridden", but couldn't help himself when it came to Amber Sky after Ricky Yiu Poon-fai's exceptional juvenile talent gave rivals another galloping lesson yesterday.
"I hate saying this about horses - but that is the best two-year-old I have ever ridden," the Zimbabwean-born hoop enthused after the griffin's third slick win in as many starts up the Sha Tin straight.
Amber Sky broke his older opponents hearts - and broke 56 seconds - as he jumped from restricted company into Class Three for the first time. "Today he was like an open handicapper doing it for the 100th time," Du Plessis said, marvelling at the son of Exceed And Excel's calm temperament.
Du Plessis fired Amber Sky straight across to the outside rail from gate four, crossing the field easily and settling into a remarkably fast, but comfortable, cruising speed.
"I thought if I could use his early speed and get to the fence, it will give him the confidence because that's where he was in his griffin races," Du Plessis said. "I only had to give him one slip and he was lightning, he was straight on to the bridle, and he was doing that fast past very, very easily."
"I don't know if it would have made a difference had he not found the rail, he still would have won."
Even though Du Plessis could have afforded to let up on the gelding late, as he strode away to score by 3-3/4 lengths, recalling Luke Nolen's near-disaster on Black Caviar from a day earlier kept the jockey focused.
"After watching Luke yesterday, I thought, 'well, I'm not easing up'. But I didn't want to batter the horse, I gave him three or four, because he was having a good look around."
Yiu said his youngster "hadn't stopped growing" since his last start seven weeks ago, but revealed his horse had suffered a setback in that time and had been given a relatively light time of it because of a cold and skin rash.