SATURDAY: May 30, 2020: TOMMY’S back!
Hawkesbury trainer Tommy Wong put a lengthy stint out of the industry behind him to clinch his first winner in three years at Goulburn yesterday.
And if $11 victor Jin Chi Phantom’s performance is any guide, it won’t be anything like another three years before he is in the winning list again.
The former New Zealander, with Shaun Guymer aboard, went back from his outside barrier in the field of 10 in the Benchmark 58 Handicap (1200m) and settled a clear last.
Guymer began his run at the 600m and Jin Chi Phantom, after circling the field, sustained a strong burst to comfortably overhaul Direct Default ($4.20) and $151 outsider Chyseing Ivy.
Wong, a Hong Kong native who migrated to Australia in the early 1990s and took out a training licence in 2000, had not won a race since Skilled Magic (Jeff Penza) scored at $31 at Hawkesbury on May 30, 2017.
Coincidentally, Guymer was in the saddle when Wong “won” a Benchmark 64 Handicap (2100m) – also at Hawkesbury – on September 20, 2018 with Story Of Tong Sai at $26.
However, he was disqualified for 10 months at the end of that year by RacingNSW stewards after concluding an inquiry into an analyst’s finding of an elevated level of cobalt in the gelding’s post-race urine sample.
Wong pleaded guilty, and stewards took that into account in determining the penalty.
As a result of the disqualification, fellow Hawkesbury trainer Mal Johnston took over a number of Wong’s horses and scored with Jin Chi Phantom in an Orange Maiden (1000m) in November last year.
Wong resumed his training career earlier this year, and has eight horses in work. Jin Chi Phantom in fact was his first runner when unplaced at Hawkesbury on April 4.
“Jin Chi Phantom is owned in China, and had his first two starts (both unplaced over 1600m) as a three-year-old for another trainer in New Zealand,” Wong explained today.
“The owner, whom I know indirectly, decided to bring the horse to Australia last year and gave him to me to train.”
However, Jin Chi Phantom had not started here when Wong began his disqualification, and Johnston took over the gelding’s training, winning with him at Orange at only his third Australian start.
Jin Chi Phantom, a son of noted staying sire Tavistock, was Wong’s 13th starter since his resumption and he had saddled six placegetters before breaking through at Goulburn.
“I will gradually step Jin Chi Phantom up in distance,” Wong said.
“On his breeding, he should handle at least 1600m and perhaps even further.”