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Davis Files: Race Review of Happy Valley - 5th June 2024

3 minute read

Brett Davis provides exclusive Review of Happy Valley races.

A AMERIC TE SPECSO.
A AMERIC TE SPECSO. Picture: HKJC

Race 1 – Stanley Gap Handicap, HK $875,000

Class 5 – Turf - Distance 1000m – Track Good to Yielding

Time: 57.90 Standard Time: 57.15 Course/Class record: 56.52 Shanghai Power

GOOD VIEW GLORY (AUS 4yo g American Pharoah – Summer's Day) got the job done in the opener, shedding the maiden tag at start number 13. The gelding was away on terms from an inside alley and ended up in a midfield position under Andrea Atzeni. Turning off the back, the four-year-old ended up a long way off the leader as he was buried along the inside, spotting the leader 6-1/2 lengths at the 400m point. Entering the straight, Atzeni was able to move away from the rail and get to the outside in the straight but was still spotting the leader a few lengths with 150m to run. He burst out of the pack inside the final 100m to take the lead in the shadows of the post, winning by a head on the line in a very eye-catching performance. HAPPY TANGO was put into a handy position from the outside by Ellis Wong, with the apprentice hoop able to sit one-out-one-back. He had a lovely run in transit throughout and Wong peeled into the clear shortly after straightening with the leaders getting away from the chasing pack. Happy Tango took the lead coming to the 50m point and appeared the winner, but Good View Glory stormed over the top of him late to take the win in a close finish. The first two put a good gap on EASY TWO who ran on well from back in the fuck to finish in third.

Race 2 – Tai Tam Gap Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 2200m – Track Good to Yielding

Time: 2:18.46 Standard Time: 2:16.50 Course/Class record: 2:14.42 Bright Kid

Karis Teetan and David Hall combined to win the staying event on the night aboard race favourite SHARPEN BRIGHT (NZ 4yo g Redwood – Wandane). From a handy draw, Teetan put the gelding into the race and settled on the back of the leader as the field sorted their order out. Not a whole lot happened through the first half of the race with the four-year-old travelling comfortably with a lap to run. Down the back, the leaders got away from the chasing group a touch, prompting Teetan to begin niggling the gelding along with 800m remaining, looking to keep the leading duo within striking distance turning off the back. Not only was he able to stick with them, but he was also looming ominously around the turn as Teetan peeled three wide at the top of the straight. The gelding bounded to the

lead with 200m to run and was far superior on the night, being strong to the finish and winning easily by 1-3/4 lengths. SERANGOON got away on terms but was snagged toward the back of the field on settling down under Harry Bentley. The Englishman remained at the tail of the field aboard Serangoon right up to the 600m point, where he began to make his move turning off the back. The gelding was able to improve three-wide with cover, and continued to make his run toward the centre of the track as they entered the straight. He was gutsy to the line, staying on well over the closing stages to finish a clear second, but the winner was just a class above on the night. INTREPID WINNER settled on the back of the eventual winner in running and had his chance to win the race if he was good enough. He was unable to match it with the winner though, finishing in third, beaten 3-3/4 lengths.

Race 3 – Mount Nicholson Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good to Yielding

Time: 1:10.69 Standard Time: 1:09.85 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends

It was all PACKING POWER ( AUS 3yo g Toronado – Chloe Anna) in race three, getting the job done easily on debut. Zac Purton was able to slide into a beautiful position one-out-one-back around the first turn, before sliding closer down the back straight. The debutant applied the pressure to the leader a long way from home and Purton looked to have plenty of horse underneath him as they swung around the bend and into the straight. It didn't take long for Packing Power to show his ability, taking the lead with 200m to run and show a clean pair of heels in the run to the line. He looks like an above-average horse, winning easily on the line by 1-1/2 lengths and putting good margins through the field. CIRCUIT SEVEN was running up front initially but elected to take a trailing position around the first turn, easing back to settle in behind the leader. After enjoying a lovely run in the race, Matthew Poon was able to get off the inside and swing three deep on the turn, chasing hard all the way to the line, but the winner was just too good on the night. SPEEDY SMARTIE was caught wide throughout the event but stuck on gamely in the run to the line, finishing in third position.

Race 4 – Mount Nicholson Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good to Yielding

Time: 1:11.20 Standard Time: 1:09.85 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends

Ben Thompson may be beginning to find his groove in Hong Kong, teaming up with Jamie Richards for another winner in the Asian city, this time aboard ERNEST FEELING (AUS 6yo g

Epaulette – Melancolia). From an outside alley, Thompson urged the gelding along to get across and settle in a position just worse than midfield. He was in the running line though and a solid pace was being set through the early and middle stages. The Australian hoop had already placed the gelding under heavy pressure prior to the home turn and was out near the middle of the course as he made his run at the top of the straight. The gelding sprinted quickly in the soggy conditions, looming up to join the leaders with 150m to run and pulling away once he took control. The gelding was doing his best work late in the race as he powered away to win by 1-1/4 lengths on the line. Matthew Poon got everything he could out of GOLDEN CHAMPION who jumped a $66 chance. The gelding raced in a midfield position throughout the event after getting away well from an inside alley. Turning for home, Poon had plenty of space to move into out wide and the gelding just kept plugging away out wider on the track. He was passed by Ernest Feeling a long way from home, but he didn't give in over the concluding stages, whacking away to run into second position close to the line. COSMO NAVIGATOR had the run of the race one-out-one-back for Antoine Hamlin and the gelding moved up to take the lead with 200m to run. He was only caught with 100m remaining as he began to weaken, eventually finishing in third with Golden Champion sticking his nose in front in the last couple of strides.

Race 5 – The Cricket Club Stakes (Handicap), HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1650m – Track Good to Yielding

Time: 1:41.64 Standard Time: 1:40.05 Course/Class record: 1:38.83 Flying Elite

Hugh Bowman was the next jockey to put his name on the winner's list, guiding DARING PURSUIT (NZ 5yo g Shooting To Win – Comic Miss) to his second win from just 7 starts. The five-year-old got away well from a wide barrier and was able to work across with ease in the early stages, getting across to sit on the outside of the leader as they made the first turn. There was no change to the order as they travelled down the back, with Bowman sitting a half-length off the lead through the middle stages, before creeping closer as they turned off the back. Bowman was looming large as they turned for home and stuck his nose in front shortly after straightening, sprinting away from his rivals under hands and heels riding from Bowman. The gelding was challenged late in the race, but he'd already built a big enough gap on his rivals, with the final margin being only a half-length. CAN'T GO WONG was doing the chasing after he settled on the back of the leader from barrier one. After enjoying a cosy run throughout the race, Matthew Poon barged his way into the clear on the point of the home turn, getting into the clear on straightening and setting out after the leader. He chased hard right to the line, but he had every chance to win if he was good enough. The first two across the line were 3 lengths clear of FIGHTING MACHINE who had tracked the eventual winner in the race, with the first five in running the first five across the line.

Race 6 – Wong Nai Chung Gap Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1650m – Track Good to Yielding

Time: 1:41.45 Standard Time: 1:40.05 Course/Class record: 1:38.83 Flying Elite

Zac Purton and David Hall both made it a winning double on the night as NORTHERN BEAST (AUS 4yo g Maurice – Tiffany's Diamond) proved too good. Purton was able to hold his position from an inside draw, booting up to sit on the back of the leader as they sorted their order out. The pace was only moderate early on, which prompted some moves down the side of the course and split the field in two, with Purton remaining in the leading division. He raced comfortably through the middle stages and was able to ping through a gap as they turned for home, setting out after the leaders. It didn't take long for Northern Beast to claim the lead, hitting the front with 150m remaining and never really looking as though he was going to be caught. The gelding was just a cut above on the night, winning by three-quarters of a length. STURDY RUBY settled midfield for Karis Teetan and found himself a long way off the lead as they travelled down the back, being the leader of the peloton as the field split in two. The gelding was able to get onto the back of the race favourite and eventual winner turning off the back and followed the eventual winner through a gap into the race. Sturdy Ruby chased hard to the line and was taking ground off the winner late, but not enough as he was forced to settle for second. SKY TRUST held on for third in a bold effort after being taken on up front following his early move.

Race 7 – Shouson Hill Handicap, HK $2,050,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1650m – Track Good to Yielding

Time: 1:40.82 Standard Time: 1:39.85 Course/Class record: 1:38.55 Telecom Fighters

Danny Shum then brought up a training double as HELENE WARRIOR (IRE 3yo c Starspangledbanner – Hightime Heroine) scored his maiden victory. The three-year-old scored some much-needed ratings points with the Hong Kong Derby no doubt in the minds of connections next season. Lyle Hewitson was able to put Helene Warrior in a handy position from barrier five as the colt showed good early speed. He would land on the back of the leader in the run with the pace slowing down the back straight. the pace ramped up again as they turned off the back and Hewitson was awake to it, with the colt quickening sharply under the South African's urgings and taking the lead as they rounded the home turn. He was left in front a long way from home, but the colt stuck to his guns and never looked like being run down. He went on to win easily by two lengths in what was a very impressive victory. ZOOM BOOM settled in the second half of the field as Harry Bentley

drifted back from barrier seven. He travelled comfortably throughout the event, before making his move turning off the back with Bentley moving around the field three-wide. Bentley was able to squeeze between runners on straightening to get into clear air and set out after the leader, but Helene Warrior was already off and gone. CHAIN OF GOLD made a solid run down the outside of the field to grab third, but he was just too far back to threaten.

Race 8 – Violet Hill Handicap, HK $1,860,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good to Yielding

Time: 1:10.49 Standard Time: 1:09.60 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision

It was a blowout in the penultimate event as HAPPY FAT CAT (AUS 5yo g Shalaa – Bound To Blush) won narrowly after jumping a $49 chance. Ellis Wong shoved the gelding along out of the barriers to get across and land on the speed. The tempo was quick through the first half of the event with the leader bowling along in front, but it suited Happy Fat Cat as he was alone in second position with 400m left to run. Wong started to get busy aboard the gelding as they turned for home, with the gelding narrowing the margin with every stride. He eventually took the lead inside the final 100m and while he had plenty of horses coming at him on the post, he was too strong and secured the win. KYRUS DRAGON was a little slow into stride and ended up near the tail of the field on settling down, racing along the inside. He ended up a long way off the leader in running with the field strung out through the middle stages of the race. Turning for home, Alex Badel was able to weave his was through the traffic and make a last-gasp lunge at the winner. He was coming with a head full of steam, but he couldn't reel in Happy Fat Cat as he went down by a head on the line. KAHOLO ANGEL also came from well back to fill the placings, sliding up the rail to finish in third position.

Race 9 – Violet Hill Handicap, HK $1,860,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good to Yielding

Time: 1:10.53 Standard Time: 1:09.60 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision

CALIFORNIA TOUCH (AUS 4yo g Deep Field – Touch Of Greatness) made it a race-to-race double for trainer Cody Mo. The gelding showed good speed out of the barriers and rolled forward to sit on the outside of the leader on settling down. The pace was solid throughout, but the four-year-old travelled comfortably with Mattthew Chadwick beginning to apply pressure to the leader as they turned for home. He responded well to

the urgings of Chadwick early in the straight to take the lead with a furlong to run. He had a rival baring down on him late in the race, but he had enough left in the tank to score by a neck on the line. KA YING CHEER enjoyed the run of the race in third position after jumping well and sliding across from a wide draw in the early stages. The gelding looked to have plenty to offer at the top of the straight as Alex Badel shifted him into clear running. He chased strongly to the line and had his chance to win if he was good enough, but California Touch was just too strong. A AMERIC TE SPECSO weaved through traffic late to run into third position in an eye-catching effort late under Zac Purton.


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