Lonhro's Jolly Banner Shocks in The Bauhinia Sprint Trophy
Mark Smith - Sunday January 6

The Ricky Yiu-trained Jolly Banner earned his first stakes win in Sunday's The Bauhinia Sprint Trophy (1000m) at Sha Tin but there were few punters cheering as the 7yo son of Lonhro started at 90/1 in the six-horse field.

There was not a hint of fluke in the result either. After receiving a squeeze at barrier rise, Jolly Banner settled back last and by the halfway mark he was still four lengths of them with Matthew Poon scrubbing his ears off. Picking up with 200 metres left to run, Jolly Banner pushed one out of the way before running away to an impressive length score over the 3yo Starspangledbanner gelding Styling City with I Am Invincible's Wishful Thinker the same distance back in third. (HKJC photo)

"Six runners and a 90/1 winner: We don't mind surprises!" Yiu told the HKJC.

"He's a very honest horse, so I'm not surprised he finished a good race. But winning? That's a big surprise. It's a big plus for him."

Yiu said it was the small field that tempted him to have a go.

"There are limited opportunities for this horse, so after last start I decided to take a chance at the 1000 (metres), it was a small field and there's good prize money so I told the owner to just go for it," he said.

"The jockey gave him a good warm-up to the start and he jumped better than his previous race. I said to Matthew before, 'stay in touch, you have to stay in touch to be competitive,' and as soon as he asked the horse, the horse responded tremendously."

For Poon, it was his first Group race success in his hometown.

"It's my first Group III in Hong Kong, so I was a bit excited. I've won two Group III races in Singapore but never before here," he said.

Purchased by his trainer for $300,000 out of the Tyreel Stud draft at the 2013 Inglis Easter Australian Yearling Sale, Jolly Banner (pictured as a yearling) broke his maiden at Mornington back in June 2015 when trained by Pat Carey.

Two months later he was on a flight to Hong Kong.

While he had won six times previously in his adopted homeland, Jolly Banner had fallen short in three stakes attempts although he was beaten less than a length in the Group II Sha Tin Trophy (1600m) won champion Beauty Generation last October. The Bauhinia Sprint Trophy was his first ever attempt at the minimum distance.

He advances his overall record to 7 wins, 4 seconds and 8 thirds from 29 starts with earnings of HK$10.2 million.

While he might have silenced the fans at Sha Tin, there would certainly be rejoicing at Makybe who bred the son of Lonhro out of the Group III winning Jade Robbery (USA) mare Valkyrie Diva, a half-sister to their beloved triple Melbourne Cup winner and twice Horse Of The Year, Makybe Diva.

Jolly Banner becomes the third stakes-winner for Valkyrie Diva after the Listed winners C'Est Beau La Vie (Bernardini) and Wales (Redoute's Choice).

Valkyrie Diva does not have a yearling on the ground, but she did foal a Snitzel filly on November 17.

Her daughter C'Est Beau La Vie also had a Snitzel filly and she was bred back to the Arrowfield champion.

Another of Valkyrie Diva's foals, the highly promising Fastnet Rock mare Kentucky Diva, is back in training with Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes at Rosehill.

A $280,000 purchase by Laurel Oak Bloodstock at the 2015 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale, Kentucky Diva has won two of her four starts and has not been seen out since winning at Sandown last August.

Lonhro in upcoming sales: