Milestone for owner on Friday 13th

Royal Fashion (Leith Innes) giving Dr Gene Tsoi a win he will never forget.

Royal Fashion (Leith Innes) giving Dr Gene Tsoi a win he will never forget at Matamata yesterday.

Not even the fact it was Friday the 13th could stop the Cambridge filly Royal Fashion providing his Hong Kong-based owner Dr Gene Tsoi with a memorable win at Matamata yesterday.

Dr Tsoi is no stranger to the New Zealand scene, being a regular participant at the National Yearling Sales at Karaka and having several blue-blood mares based at Cambridge Stud under the management of Marcus Corban as well as racehorses in work.

But yesterday was special to Dr Tsoi as it was the first time he had been on track in New Zealand to witness one of his horses win.

“The only other time was when Seascay raced for me in the Sires’ Produce Stakes and he got beaten by Snap,” said Dr Tsoi. “That was over 20 years ago and I haven’t seen one of my horses race here since then.”

It was actually almost 24 years ago since Dr Tsoi made that special trip to New Zealand to watch the Colin Jillings and Richard Yuill-trained Seascay compete in the Ford Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes. Seascay had completed a hat trick of wins before the feature and he then went on to finish a close second to Do Si Do in the Gr.1 Ford Ellerslie Sires Produce Stakes.

A superstitious man, Dr Tsoi felt it might be bad luck to be on track in New Zealand to watch his charges perform after Seascay’s defeat. But this time, through the persuasion of Corban, he made it to the low-key Matamata meeting, surprisingly as it was Friday the 13th, regarded as an unlucky day by the superstitous.

“I flew in this morning and went to Cambridge to look at my horses and Marcus persuaded me to come over to see her (Royal Fashion) race,” said Dr Tsoi. “I was nervous before the race. It’s been so exciting to see her win.”

Royal Fashion is prepared at Cambridge by Mark Forbes, who is one of two trainers Dr Tsoi is currently using in New Zealand. The other is Allan Sharrock.

A half-sister by Snitzel to the Australian Group Two winner Alpine Eagle, Royal Fashion was expected to win yesterday’s TRAC Sports Bar Matamata 1200 and started at the cramped price of $1.50. She had won once from six previous starts, but it was two of her four placings which saw punters climbing aboard.

Last October she finished fourth behind Ugo Foscolo in the Gr.2 James and Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes at Te Rapa before being totally unsuited by the wet track in the Gr.1 NZ 1000 Guineas. She then bounced back to finish a close second to Spindle at Ellerslie on December 29.

Leith Innes had been aboard Royal Fashion in her maiden win at Ruakaka three months ago and yesterday he was back in the saddle for the first time since then and gave her every opportunity, tracking the pacemaker Ruby Bloom until early in the home straight.

Royal Fashion ambled up alongside Ruby Bloom and when Innes asked her for an effort she quickly sealed the win and went to the line without being pressured.

She scored by a length and a quarter and ran the fastest final 600 metres of the day. As commentator Bruce Sherwin said, “It’s no more than a track gallop for her.”

“It was good to see her settle beautifully today,” said Forbes, thrilled to give Dr Tsoi such a memorable win.

“We’ll give her a quiet time and she’ll probably have one more run this time up. We’re looking at the Mr Tiz Trophy at Ellerslie on Derby Day.”

The $70,000 Stella Artois Mr Tiz Trophy, a three-old 1200 metres on March 4, is a Group Three and it could be some minor compensation to Tsoi for that defeat of Seascay on the same track in the Sires’ Produce Stakes back in 1993.

After his Ellerslie Group One placing, Seascay was placed in both his Queensland juvenile Group One assignments, the Sires’ Produce Stakes (fourth) and Castlemaine Stakes, the winner of each occasion being the high-class performer Mahogany.

He wound up the second top colt on the 1992-93 NZ 2YO Free Handicap and the following season he won the Wellington Guineas and was runner-up in the Gr.2 ARC Lindauer Guineas, Gr.2 Avondale Guineas and Gr.3 Waikato Guineas and was third behind Popsy and Shatin Heights in the Gr.1 NZ Derby before heading to Australia, where his efforts included two wins in the Gr.1 VRC Nissan Stakes and Group One seconds in the MVRC Manikato Stakes, Toorak Handicap and Underwood Stakes.

Dr Tsoi has raced other top colts, including Group One winners Viking Ruler and Mouawad. Viking Ruler won the Gr.1 Spring Champion Stakes and as a sire his progeny include the Group One winners Red Ruler (Waikato International Stakes;Gr.2 Wellington Cup) and Court Ruler (Queensland Derby), while Mouawad, a son of Hall Of Fame mare Eight Carat, won three Group Ones – the .Australian Guineas, George Ryder Stakes and VATC Futurity Stakes).

As for the fillies, Dr Tsoi’s list of winners include two of the best of their time, King’s Rose and Elegant Fashion.

Trained by Jason Bridgman, King’s Rose was the 2011 NZ Bloodstock Filly Of The Year after showing promise as a two-year-old. She won the 2010 Gr.1 NZ 1000 Guineas, Gr.2 Royal Stakes, Gr.2 Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies Classic, the Gr.3 Eulogy Stakes and Listed Ray Coupland Stakes.

She then headed to Australia where from the stable of Peter Moody she won the Gr.2 Memsie Stakes and Gr.2 Moonee Valley W.H. Stocks Stakes and was Group One placed when runner-up in the Toorak Handicap (to Mufhasa) and Emirates Stakes and third in both the Queen Of The Turf Stakes (to More Joyous) and the Coolmore Classic.

She was later sold to Japanese interests and her first foal, Satono Arthur (by Deep Impact) won twice as a two-year-old last year.

Elegant Fashion became the first filly in 27 years to win the Hong Kong Derby in 2003 and she also took the Kong International Cup Trial and Hong Kong Chairman’s Trophy. Before heading to Hong Kong she had won three Group Two races in Australia – the Angus Armanasco Stakes, Moonee Valley Oaks and Kewney Stakes.