By Leo Schlink/Hong Kong Jockey Club
Hong Kong: Harry Bentley reaped the benefit of spending quarantine in a high-rise hotel which overlooks Happy Valley racecourse to ride his first Hong Kong winner on his track debut on Wednesday.
Bentley revelled in a dream baptism of fire by triumphing with his first ride at the course as Douglas Whyte’s Vincy smashed the 1m3f track record on the British jockey’s seventh ride since he moved to the Far East.
“A mixture of, I guess, a bit of relief – not that it has been a long time coming or anything, this is only my first time riding here,” Bentley said. “It’s great – first ride around Happy Valley to get a win on the board.
“I came early today and walked the track on my own. Just got a feel for the place, took it all in. Obviously, it walks differently to how it rides but I was granted a nice stall (two) and I was able to follow Joao (Moreira) around – there’s no better person to follow.”
Embarking on a three-month stint until the end of the season in July, Bentley used information gleaned from his hotel window during three weeks of quarantine to telling effect.
“I’ve been watching racing here for the last couple of weeks while I’ve been in my hotel looking over the track, so to come here and win with my first ride is fantastic,” he said.
“My room was halfway up and it looked over most of the track, there was a bit of the back straight and the top end I couldn’t see, but the two meetings that were here, I watched from my room. I was switching between watching the TV and looking out my window.”
Bentley hailed the backing he has received from Whyte, champion jockey 13 times in Hong Kong where he is now in his second season as a trainer.
“Douglas has been fantastic, he’s given me good support,” he added. “Me coming here to Hong Kong, obviously I know nothing about the place, and he offered some valuable insights, which were really informative and really helpful.”
Whyte said: “He rode the track amazingly for someone that’s never ridden at Happy Valley. He’s got a great set of hands on him and if you can do that you are going to win a lot of races.”
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