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Lyle Hewitson’s second meeting back from suspension saw him winning the first two races at Sha Tin’s big Hong Kong Derby meeting (Picture: HKJC)

Lyle Hewitson rode a double at Sunday’s big Hong Kong Derby meeting and it took him to sole sixth place on the jockeys log with 26 wins.

He won the first two races at the meeting and later had two seconds.

It gave him second place in the day’s Jockeys’ Challenge behind treble-scoring Zac Purton.

Last season he finished with 50 winners and fifth place and most of his wins came in the second half of the season, so he will be hoping for a repeat in order to challenge his personal best.

Hewitson was recently in South Africa for some quality family time, which included a relative’s wedding, and that was the upside of a suspension he had been given by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

His first meeting back from the suspension was at Happy Valley last Wednesday, which allowed him to get rid of any rustiness which would have set in ahead of Sunday’s important meeting.

It must have done the trick.

His day on Sunday started with a ride on the Francis Lui-trained first timer Divano, an Australian-bred three-year-old gelding by Brave Smash. The gelding was not only 20/1 in the betting, but had to jump from a wide draw of 12 out of 14 in the class 4 event over 1200m.

Divano did not get the best of breaks, but showed exceptional natural speed, which allowed Hewitson to get him across with relative ease into the lead. Divano relaxed well in front and found extra in the straight to win by a cosy 1,25 lengths, with 6/1 shot Happy For All second and the hard-knocking odds-on favourite Geneva beaten 1,75 lengths into third.

Divano looks promising and should go on to win more races.

In the second race Hewitson was aboard the hard-knocking Francis Lui-trained New Zealand-bred four-year-old Astern gelding Second To None.

He had won second time out over 1200m and followed with a third and a fourth over 1200m and 1400m respectively.

He jumped at odds of 9/2 on Sunday in the class 4 event over 1400m.

Hewitson was happy to let the pacey sorts go from pole position and sat relaxed on the rail in third place.

He managed to close in on the leader around the turn and was still full of running coming into the straight, but faced a problem, especially with that suspension still fresh in his memory.

How was he going to find a gap between the pacemaker, Affirm, and the horse on the pacemaker’s quarters, War Of Courage?

Luckily, the pacemaker shifted in slightly at the same time as the other horse shifted outward which entitled him to go for the gap.

The gap then started closing, but he squeezed through and the horse used lengthy strides to beat Affirm by a neck.

The stipes report said later, “Approaching the 200 Metres SECOND TO NONE was shifted out to improve between AFFIRM and WAR OF COURAGE. When both AFFIRM and WAR OF COURAGE shifted ground slightly, SECOND TO NONE had some difficulty obtaining clear running for a short distance thereafter and brushed WAR OF COURAGE.”

Hewitson finished second in the third race aboard the Mark Newnham-trained Full Credit.

He was unplaced in the next, but then had an important ride on the Francis Lui-trained Call Me Glorious (No Nay Never).

This horse had won in highly promising fashion on debut and the question was whether he could become the big horse Hewitson has always lacked in Hong Kong.

He ended up finishing second on Sunday in the class 3 over 1200m, but the winner Ka Ying Rising (Shamexpress) has won three times and finished close seconds twice in just five starts and looks to be classy. The pair were clear of the rest, so Call Me Glorious could possibly still go on to big things.

In the Derby, which is Hong Kong’s most prestigious race, Hewitson was aboard a rank outsider in the Francis Lui-trained Speed Dragon and he wasn’t disgraced in seventh, beaten 4,50 lengths.

The race was won by the Dennis Yip-trained Massive Sovereign, who was ridden by Purton.

Hewitson had three more rides for a fourth and two unplaced finishes.

Another South African Jockeys Academy graduate, Karis Teetan, also rode a double on the day and finished third in the day’s jockeys challenge.