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Davis Files: Race Review of Happy Valley - 21st February 2024

3 minute read

Brett Davis provides exclusive Review of Happy Valley races.


Race 1 – Wang Tak Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good

Time: 1:09.80 Standard Time: 1:09.85 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends

It was a dominant start to the night for Lyle Hewitson and Manfred Man, as GOLDEN LUCK (NZ 4yo g Per Incanto – Creil) making every post a winner. He jumped on terms from a wide draw and pressed on from the deep, crossing and leading for Hewitson. He got across to the front and led comfortably heading down the back stretch, setting a good tempo through the middle stages. He broke away from the chasing pack around the home turn and led by over a length as they turned for home. Passing the 150m point, nothing was making ground on Golden Luck and that trend continued to the finish line, with the four-year-old winning by 1-3/4 lengths eased down. JOYFUL LIFE also rolled forward from his alley, landing in a handy spot on the back of the leader. He enjoyed a nice run throughout sitting on the back of Golden Luck but came under pressure 500m from the finish. He was under heavy pressure turning for home but did stick on strongly right down the straight. He had enough strength to hold out his rivals in a close finish for the minor money, holding on for second. BEAU GOSSE crossed the line in third position, holding on in a photo finish. After being midfield in the run, Keith Yeung was able to work his way through the traffic with the gelding hitting the line nicely to round out the placings.

Race 2 – Shan Kwong Handicap, HK $4,075,000

Class 1 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good

Time: 1:40.13 Standard Time: 1:39.05 Course/Class record: 1:38.70 Blue Sky

MR ASCENDENCY (IRE 6yo g The Gurkha – Dietrich) knocked off the first of the Class 1 events this evening, getting the job done comfortably under Harry Bentley. The gelding jumped well from out wide and pressed on from the deep to sit outside the leader. The pace was only moderate, being dictated by the leader and the six-year-old travelled well through the middle stages. When the pace ramped up heading around the home turn, Bentley was right there ready to strike, showing a superior turn-of-foot to take the leader early in the straight. He broke away approaching the 150m point and never looked like being run down, scoring by 1-1/4 lengths with Bentley pumping the fist as they hit the wire. HAPPY TOGETHER bounced back from a disappointing run at Sha Tin. He settled about midfield in the run under Badel, racing along the inside rai. It wasn't until the 400m point where Badel tried to make his move, angling off the inside and getting into clear running at the top of the straight. He didn't have the turn-of-foot to match the winner, but he kept on well in the closing stages and only looked to be warming up late as he crossed the line a clear second. NORDIC DRAGON turned in his best run of the season, stealing third position right on the wire. He enjoyed the run of the race on the back of the leader throughout the event and stuck on well in the run to the line.

Race 3 – Wang Tak Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good

Time: 1:10.00 Standard Time: 1:09.85 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends

Race three saw another all-the-way winner with HAPPY FAT CAT (AUS 5yo g Shalaa – Bound To Blush) taking the bull by the horns for Matthew Poon and Cody Mo. The son of Shalaa was one of the first out of the barriers and pressed on to sit outside the leader around the first turn. He was about a half-length in front passing the 800m point but was being kept away from the inside by his rival and remained on the outside right around the turn. Poon still had a strong hold of the gelding at the top of the straight and he responded well once the local hoop asked for an effort. He showed plenty of strength to the wire, fighting off his nearest rival and winning quite comfortably in the end, despite the official margin only reading a half-length. HERCULES was one of the first into stride and settled just off the speed after easing out of the speed battle around the first turn. travelled well in the run, but didn't pick up as needed when rolling around the home turn and was forced back to the inside in the straight. He had some ground to make up, but it wasn't an insurmountable task as he did his best work late in the race. He ran the winner to within a length on the line, but the winner still looked to be doing it easily. HAYDAY was running up front alongside Happy Fat Cat and was the one keeping the winner off the inside rail. While beaten by the winner relatively comfortably in the straight, he kept on well to the line to finish over a length clear of fourth.

Race 4 – Singapore Pools Handicap, HK $3,720,000

Class 1 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good

Time: 1:09.44 Standard Time: 1:09.15 Course/Class record: 1:08.70 Tiger Prawn

Karis Teetan threw everything he had at TOMODACHI KOKOROE (AUS 5yo g Written Tycoon – Rainbeam) and the David Hayes-trained gelding scored by the barest of margins. After getting away well from barrier 7, the Mauritian hoop slid into a beautiful position one-out-one-back and stalking the leading pair. The pace was hot through the opening and middle stages and the leaders began to feel the pinch approaching the home turn, prompting Teetan to peel out three wide. Around the turn, the five-year-old was under the pump, but he ran to the lead with 150m remaining with all eight runners within a few lengths of each other. Tomodachi Kokoroe looked to be headed inside the final 50m, but he dug deep over the concluding stages to stick his nose back in front where it mattered most, getting the nod in a very tight photo finish. BUNDLE OF CHARM is absolutely flying at the moment and only narrowly missed out on victory. Alex Badel stalked Tomodachi Kokoroe throughout the race and came off his back to challenge him at the top of the straight. The pair set down to fight it out over the closing stages, and at some points it looked as though Bundle Of Charm was in front. It was only a bob of the head that cost him right on the wire, going down by a nose in a very tight finish. BEAUTY CHARGE snuck into the placings at the very last moment. After settling just worse than midfield, the gelding looked to be making plenty of headway in the straight before finding trouble at the 150m point. After checking off heels and being blocked for a run, Angus Chung moved him into the clear where he came again, beaten just a half-length and finishing in third. With clear running, he may have been the winner.

Race 5 – Yuk Sau Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1800m – Track Good

Time: 1:49.85 Standard Time: 1:49.55 Course/Class record: 1:48.10 Acclaimed Light

Harry Bentley made it a winning double on the night as he guided SERANGOON (AUS 4yo g Ilovethiscity – Maraudamiss) to victory in race five. The gelding was a touch slow into stride, with Bentley urging the gelding along to make the most of his inside draw. The four-year-old picked up under the urgings, settling just off the speed as they travelled into the first turn. The pace slowed heading down the side of the course and into the back straight, though Serangoon was still travelling comfortably within striking distance of the leaders. When the pace ramped up again around the home turn, the gelding was right there to strike but just needed a touch of luck at the top of the straight. Bentley stuck to the inside rail on straightening, keeping clear of his rivals and setting out after the leader who broke away early in the straight. He was still a length off him at the 100m point, but he knuckled down strongly to the line and stuck his nose in front in the final couple of strides to take the win. FOREVER GLORIOUS did as he pleased up front as he crossed over from his wide draw right at the beginning of the race. He was rated perfectly by Jerry Chau out in front and the gelding showed a nice turn-of-foot at the top of the straight to put a big gap on his rivals. He was vulnerable late in the race, and it took right up until the final couple of strides for him to be caught, finishing just a short head away on the line. KYRUS UNICORN was the flashing light out wide, running on well from midfield to finish just a neck away in third.

Race 6 – Yik Yam Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good

Time: 1:40.05 Standard Time: 1:40.05 Course/Class record: 1:38.83 Flying Elite

Next it was Karis Teetan's turn to bring up a winning double as GALVANIC (AUS 4yo g Ilovethiscity – Miss Hottie) notched up his first win in Hong Kong quite comfortably. Galvanic jumped well from the inside alley and was able to hold his spot along the inside, settling just off the leaders with a good charge into the first turn. The pace was still genuine heading into the back straight as the four-year-old travelled strongly under Teetan, remaining on the back of the leader through the middle stages. The leader tried to skip away passing the 400m point, but there was a good response from Galvanic as he began to close the margin under his own steam turning for home. Teetan peeled off the leader's back and quickly went up to hit the front with 200m to run, and the race was all over from that point. The margin grew with every stride, with Galvanic going on to win by 1-3/4 lengths in easy style. SATIRICAL GLORY did well to get across and lead the field from barrier 6 as he wasn't left to his own devices through the opening stanza. Once the field sorted their order out though, Avdulla was able to dictate the race and showed a clean pair of heels as they turned off the back straight, getting away from his dangers before the home turn. The margin was short lived though as Galvanic blew right by him with a furlong to run, but to the horse's credit, he kept on well to the line to finish a clear second. GALLANT VALOUR was very eye-catching in the closing stages. After being a long way back in the run for Andrea Atzeni, the gelding made a sustained run right down the outside fence to run into the placings. He was very strong over the closing stages and a rise in trip wouldn't surprise.

Race 7 – Village Handicap, HK $2,050,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good

Time: 1:39.39 Standard Time: 1:39.85 Course/Class record: 1:38.55 Telecom Fighters

It was a thrilling three-way finish to the seventh race on the card, with Tony Crus training the trifecta of the race, and it was the longest priced of the trio WINNING DRAGON (CHI 6yo g Ivan Denisovich – Perdoname) who got the bob. Although he jumped on terms, the gelding failed to show any early speed and settled just off the speed for Brenton Avdulla. The pace was good early as the leaders broke away from the rest of the pack, with Winning Dragon now in a more midfield position than earlier in the race. After being strung out down the back straight, the field began to tighten up passing the 600m point, with Avdulla remining along the inside and pinching runs close to the rail. Turning for home, the Australian hoop stuck right to the paint, scraping along the inside to run up and join the leaders with 150m to run. It was a ding-dong battle right to the wire, and just when it looked as though he'd run third, Winning Dragon put the strongest bounds in late and got his nose down on the wire to win by the narrowest of margins. LOVERO enjoyed a beautiful run in behind the leaders. Angus Chung stalked the speed throughout the event before coming off the leaders' back and setting out after the lead. As he ran to the front, he was joined up front by Winning Dragon and Red Hare King. The trio fought it out right to the wire, with the judges handing Lovero second position. RED HARE KING sustained a strong run around the field to battle it out with his stablemates over the concluding stages but had to settle for third with only a short head separating the first three across the line.

Race 8 – Sing Woo Handicap, HK $1,860,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good

Time: 1:09.44 Standard Time: 1:09.60 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision

Alex Badel had been right around the mark all night and finally crossed the stripe first aboard the Pierre Ng-trained BON'S A PEARLA (AUS 5yo m Bon Hoffa – Treasure Island). The mare got away well off the inside barrier and used that to her advantage around the first turn, being midfield heading down the back. The pace was strong through the opening and middle stages and the mare was building into the race strongly around the home turn, before being slightly held up at the top of the straight. Badel got off heels and into the clear where the strong mare began to work through her gears. She took the lead with 100m to run and was far too strong in the closing stages pulling away for a 1-1/2 length victory. The race favourite COPARTNER AMBITION was away on terms from a nice draw and was handy going around the first turn, before easing out of the battle for the lead early in the back stretch. The gelding raced in a lovely position just off the hot speed and was alongside eventual winner Bon's A Pearla with 500m remaining. The winner stuck close to the inside and proved too strong late in the race, but Copartner Ambition also finished off well down the outside, closing off for second. WINNING ICEY was another who enjoyed the hot tempo in the race, closing off strongly alongside Copartner Ambition to the line.

Race 9 – King Kwong Handicap, HK $1.860,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1000m – Track Good

Time: 56.95 Standard Time: 56.60 Course/Class record: 55.85 Stoltz

It was a blowout for punters in the final event as the $30 shot KA YING SPIRIT (AUS 6yo g Rubick – Search The Stars) proved too speedy over the 1000m journey. Alfred Chan pressed on from barrier five to lead the field heading off the back and appeared to be doing it comfortably around the turn. He railed like a greyhound turning for home and broke away from his rivals in the straight, putting over a length on them. The further the race went on, the further he extended his margin, winning by 2-1/4 lengths on the line in grand style. Closing off strongly out wide was HEROIC MASTER who had been midfield in the run before swinging out toward the middle of the track to come with his run. He was strong over the final stages to claim second right on the wire. Heroic Master had tracked ATOMIC FORCE into the race, with the $6.70 chance only being edged out on the line.

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