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It was a night of milestones and records at Happy Valley as Champion Trainer John Size and Champion Jockey Joao Moreira took centre stage in a bumper night at the iconic city racetrack on Wednesday (22 February).
Size, reigning Champion Trainer and the current leader in this season’s trainers’ championship, brought up a rare milestone as he became just the third handler to score 1,000 Hong Kong wins. He notched a double with Game Of Fun (126lb) in Race 3, the second section of the Class 4 Kwai Chung Handicap and D B Pin (130lb) in Race 5, the Class 2 Sai Kung Handicap (1000m). Both were ridden by Zac Purton, who rode a double for his compatriot for just the second time, the first since May 2011.
Secret Weapon misfired last month when a sub-par 11th of 12 in the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m), but jockey Nash Rawiller is expecting a return to form in this Sunday’s (26 February) HK$10 million G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup.
A big factor in Rawiller’s faith is the return to 2000m. Dennis Yip’s stable star has raced at the distance three times in his career; two of those efforts have been this season and in both he has staked a claim to being Hong Kong’s peak performer at the 10-furlong trip.
Werther took on the champion’s mantle with a demolition job of a win in last season’s G1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) and on Sunday (26 February) the five-year-old, second-up after an injury lay-off, will aim to put his career back on to its lofty trajectory in the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m).
The Tavistock gelding, the first of whose two course and distance successes came in the BMW Hong Kong Derby last March, missed the first part of this season after sustaining a right hind proximal suspensory injury back in August. He returned to action a month ago, posting a promising sixth of 12 in the G1 Stewards’ Cup at a mile.
Trainer Richard Gibson has urged caution with returning sprinter Jetwings in the Class 2 Sai Kung Handicap (1000m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (22 February), suggesting that the five-year-old is in need of the run as he makes his first raceday appearance in over 14 months.
“It seems a lot of people are excited to see him back, but I want to see how he returns first,” Gibson said at Sha Tin trackwork on Tuesday morning (21 February). “He’s been off the track for a long time, there are a couple of very decent performers in the race and he’s going to be rusty.”
The free entry period for the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s three spring Group 1 features, the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m), the Champions Mile (1600m) and the Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m), will close one month from today on Monday, 20 March, at 6pm (Hong Kong time).
Rapper Dragon cemented his BMW Hong Kong Derby claims and raised the prospect of a first ever Four-Year-Old Classic Series clean sweep with an authoritative victory in the Hong Kong Classic Cup this afternoon, Sunday, 19 February.
John Moore’s charge added to last month’s impressive Hong Kong Classic Mile success with a smooth length and a half win under Joao Moreira. The Australian-bred held the late, wide-track charge of Pakistan Star to join Floral Pegasus (2007) and Sun Jewellery (2016) as only the third horse to have claimed the series’ first two legs.
Most attention from a BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) standpoint was on Sunday’s (19 February) second leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series, the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).
However, either side of Rapper Dragon’s imperious victory, Royal Ascot form came to the fore as Limitless and Booming Delight put themselves into contention for next month’s feature with victories of their own.
四歲馬經典賽事系列的第二關香港經典盃 (1800米)，今日 (2月19日) 下午在沙田馬場舉行，由約翰摩亞訓練的「佳龍駒」，挾新勝四歲馬經典賽事系列首關香港經典一哩賽的餘威而臨，被捧成大熱門，結果這匹四歲良駒在莫雷拉胯下亦沒有令人失望，順利再下一城。「佳龍駒」下仗將進軍寶馬香港打吡大賽，力爭成為首匹能勝出所有三關四歲馬經典賽事系列的馬。
由告東尼訓練的「美麗大師」，一向都不是在泥地上可以交出悅目走勢的馬，但此駒今日 (2月17日星期五) 在沙田的第一組1200米泥地試閘中卻以不俗的走勢以第四名衝線，其此課試閘表現無疑令人眼前一亮。
今晚 (2月15日星期三) 跑馬地百萬挑戰盃煞科戰的各場賽事，均見精彩刺激，當中主題賽事跑馬地錦標 (第一班1200米讓賽) 末段見兩駒「海翡翠」及「越影」鬥得難分難解，結果雙雙同到終點，跑獲平頭冠軍，而今屆跑馬地百萬挑戰盃亦告名花有主，由姚本輝訓練的「包裝騎士」，勝出今晚的第七場賽事，累積總分53分，壓倒「開心駿馬」，勇奪今季跑馬地百萬挑戰盃冠軍。