Lyle Hewitson has found a loyal ally in trainer David Ferraris and the pair teamed up with Methane to land the night’s trophy race, the Class 4 Craigengower Cricket Club Challenge Cup Handicap (1650m) at Happy Valley last night (Wednesday, 5 February).
Hewitson endured a long lean run before opening his Hong Kong account at the end of December and his two wins since, both at the Valley, have come aboard Ferraris gallopers – his fellow South African has provided him with 51 of 205 rides this term.
“Opportunities have been better. When you get your first win under your belt and you get good results, you start to ride with a lot more confidence and trust your judgement,” Hewitson said.
“All winners in Hong Kong are special, especially when you’re starting out. It’s fantastic to win a trophy race but it’s important for me regardless of whether it’s Class 5 or Class 1. It’s great to be on the board once again, and building momentum is so important.”
Methane, a 15/1 shot, had learned what was required of him through four defeats over shorter distances and arrived at the Valley primed for his first attempt at 1650m.
“If a horse is going to be decent he will always show something over a shorter trip and that’s what he did,” Ferraris said. “He was a little bit disappointing the start before last but after that his most recent start impressed me, he finished off really nicely, and he was working really well going into this race, so we were pretty confident.
“He’s won a hell of a good race, he’s a very nice little horse this – it’s just a shame the owner (Andrew Shuen) is in England.”
Hewitson, 22 and already a two-time champion in South Africa, settled Methane midfield. The four-year-old peeled out on the turn for home, quickened to the lead with 200m to race and scored by three quarters of a length in 1m 39.90s.
“He went through a little bit of a growing phase and he just needed to step up in trip, he was a little bit uncomfortable over the six furlongs and he’s been working up a storm at home. He had the right trip, a pretty fair draw and today everything went to plan,” Hewitson added.