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Davis Files: Race Review of Happy Valley - 10th April 2024

3 minute read

Brett Davis provides exclusive Review of Happy Valley races.

SIMPLY MAVERICK.
SIMPLY MAVERICK. Picture: HKJC

Race 1 – Flamingo Flower Handicap, HK $875,000

Class 5 – Turf - Distance 2200m – Track Good

Time: 2:18.48 Standard Time: 2:17.50 Course/Class record: 2:15.87 Sky Gem

NICE BIRDIE (IRE 5yo g Kodiac – Pearl Of The Night) continued his good run of form this campaign with his second win for the season. Jerry Chau put the gelding to sleep in a midfield position after getting away on terms, with the pace even through the first half of the race. As they passed the 1200m point, Chau was able to slide into the one-out-one-back position, travelling comfortably as they headed down the back straight. The tempo slowed through the middle stages though and the mid-race moves came at the 800m point that through the race into a bit of chaos turning off the back. The six-year-old was travelling sweetly though as they approached the home turn, with Chay just needing some clear in in the straight. The local hoop got what he was looking for, getting a split midway down the straight and letting rip strongly between runners. He charged through to hit the front with 50m remaining and showed plenty of strength to get the job done in the closing stages, winning by a neck on the line. HAPPY HERO landed in a midfield position shortly after the start for Lyle Hewitson, settling along the rail as they worked down the home straight with a lap to run. As the race went on, Hewitson moved off the inside to get onto the back of Nice Birdie down the side of the course, tracking that runner early in the back straight. When the moves came, Hewitson was quick to pounce, getting into the three-wide line and trucking into the race strongly with 600m remaining. The gelding built into the race well around the home turn and joined the leaders at the top of the straight, before quickly moving to the lead with 200m remaining. He was wandering about a bit under pressure and was eventually passed by the winner Nice Birdie close to home. He was still right there at the finish, only beaten a neck on the line. COLOURFUL BARON jumped well from a wide alley and crossed his rivals to lead the race. Zac Purton was able to dictate proceedings from the front throughout and held his leading position when the mid-race moves came. He was overtaken shortly after straightening but didn't go down without a fight, hanging in there, right to the wire to be beaten a half-length.

Race 2 – Freesia Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good

Time: 1:10.10 Standard Time: 1:09.85 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends

Lyle Hewitson was able to go one better in the second event of the day, guiding home E UNIVERSE (AUS 4yo g Super One – Classic Rush) to an all-the-way victory. He pinged out of the barriers to lead the field from gate five. Hewitson was able to dictate from the front and skipped away from the chasing pack at the 400m left to run. He was miles in front with 100m left to go but he was getting tired late. Hewitson was kind on the gelding close to home and while the margin was only a neck, he was a long, long way in front with 50m to run. DOUBLE BINGO was a massive price on debut, jumping a $78 chance but he flashed him impressively close to home. The gelding settled toward the back of the pack throughout the race, but he was travelling kindly under Luke Ferraris. He was spotting the leader a big 7-1/4 lengths with 400m left to run, but the gelding showed a sign of him we hadn't seen at the trials. He flew home over the last 200m to make things interesting late in the race. He hit the line full of running to finish only a neck away on the line. The first two at the finish gapped HAPPY FEELING who ended up 2 lengths off the winner. Ben Thompson snuck up the inside rail, never going around a runner to finish in third place.

Race 3 – Geranium Handicap, HK $3,120,000

Class 2 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good

Time: 1:39.31 Standard Time: 1:39.20 Course/Class record: 1:37.97 Tsar

Zac Purton notched up his first win on the night, with Danny Shum bringing up an early double as they teamed up with MOMENTS IN TIME (CHI 4yo g Lookin At Lucky – Magia Para Todos). The Chilean gelding jumped well from barrier five and Zac Purton was able to work across and land in the one-out-one-back position on settling down. The pace was only moderate once they sorted their order out with the leader doing as he pleased without too much pressure up front. The four-year-old was racing keenly through the first half of the race before relaxing a little better down the back straight. Approaching the 400m point, Purton got moving on the galloper and he quickly moved up to hit the front with 200m left to travel. He looked to be getting a little tired late in the race, but he dug in when it mattered most, fending off his closes rival to win by a short head on the line. OUTGATE jumped from barrier 7 and worked across to sit on the outside of the leader in the run. He enjoyed a lovely run up front. After his good run in transit, Moments In Time swept up on his outside to hit the front with Outgate appearing a little flat footed at the top of the straight. The flashy grey would rally back though, coming hard at the leader close to home as they squared off close to the line. He wans't able to stick his nose in front despite Chung's best efforts and went down in a photo finish. MR ASCENDENCY closed off well for third, but was 2-1/2 lengths off the winner.

Race 4 – Freesia Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good

Time: 1:10.33 Standard Time: 1:09.85 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends

Zac Purton made it a race-to-race double, steering home the $1.60 favourite COPARTNER PRRANCE (AUS 4yo g Epaulette – Woodstock Hussey) and brining up his 1700th winner in Hong Kong. The race favourite was the first one out of the barriers and he showed superior speed approaching the first turn, getting across with ease to sit on the outside of the leader. He travelled strongly down the back with the pace still solid through the middle stages. Purton began to make his move coming to the home turn getting out toward the middle of the track and hitting the front with 200m left to run. He showed plenty of strength over the final stages to pull away under the top weight, winning comfortably on the line by 1-1/4 lengths. MY INTELLIGENT was hard ridden right after the jump to hold his position from an inside draw. Matthew Chadwick was able to keep the gelding in a handy position around the first turn, eventually getting onto the leader's back with 600m remaining. He was travelling well approaching the home turn and Chadwick darted up the inside to make his run. He was right there with the winner at the furlong pole and made a race of it midway down the straight, but the winner was just too good close to home. SPEEDY SMARTIE closed off strongly after settling well back in the field to take third.

Race 5 – The Lusitano Challenge Cup (Handicap), HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1650m – Track Good

Time: 1:40.54 Standard Time: 1:40.05 Course/Class record: 1:38.83 Flying Elite

It was a boil over in the Cup race of the night as Matthew Chadwick and Frankie Lor combined to win with GLORIOUS JOURNEY (NZ 4yo g Sacred Falls – La Praline) at $38. From the widest barrier, the gelding was immediately snagged to the back of the field, settling a clear last around the first turn. The speed was only fair through the middle stages as Chadwick remained at the tail of the field, but passing the 600m point the local hoop began to work into the race. He moved into the three-wide line and was about midfield with 400m to run, continuing on his wide path as they turned into the straight. He was the widest runner in the straight, but he was finishing off strongly as he stuck his nose in front at the 100m point. He had all the momentum built up down the outside and he finished right over the top of his rivals, showing plenty of strength close to the line to win by a half-length. SURE JOYFUL settled in the back half of the field under Matthew Poon and sat there through the first half of the race. Poon made his move nearing the 600m point, getting into a three-wide position and sliding up on the outside of this rivals to be about midfield turning off the back. He had cover three-wide and continued his run moving four deep on the home turn. He sprinted q2uickly to take the lead with 200m remaining and was in for the fight when Glorious Journey loomed up on his outside. He kept on well to the line but

the winner was just too strong late in the race. ATOMIC BEAUTY continued his consistent campaign with another placing under Brenton Avdulla. He snuck up the inside turning for home and had his chance to win if he was good enough, but he couldn't sprint with the two right down the outside.

Race 6 – Freesia Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good

Time: 1:10.67 Standard Time: 1:09.85 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends

GOLDEN LINK (NZ 7yo g Per Incanto – Kendoka) scored his first win since October 2021 as Karis Teetan scored his first win of the night. The gelding jumped well from a middle draw but was caught very wide around the first turn. As they sorted their order out, Teetan was able to slide across and settle in the one-out-one-back position, getting the run of the race in behind the leaders. He was trucking into the race well approaching the home turn as the Mauritian hoop stayed close to the inside on straightening. He went underneath the leaders to hit the front with 150m left to run and drew clear over the concluding stages, ending his winning drought by three-quarters of-a-length. HERCULES was taken back from an outside alley to settle at the rear of the field under apprentice Angus Chung. The gelding had plenty of room to work into the race passing the 400m point as Chung looked to work between runners rather than swing wide. We quickened strongly between horses and motored home once into clear air to be the eye-catching run of the race, hitting the line full of running to be three-quarters of-a-length away. TELECOM SPEED had been caught wide and without cover throughout the race under Hugh Bowman, but still moved up to take the lead shortly after straightening. It was a run with plenty of merit as he was never far away, finishing just 1 length off the winner in a gutsy effort.

Race 7 – Lavender Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1650m – Track Good

Time: 1:41.74 Standard Time: 1:40.05 Course/Class record: 1:38.83 Flying Elite

Over a year after winning in his Hong Kong debut, CAPITAL LEGEND (AUS 5yo g Capitalist – Sweet Melody) notched up his second win in the Asian city. Hugh Bowman put the gelding into a handy position right after the start, sitting on the back of the leader from his favourable barrier. The pace was very moderate through the first half of the race, but things did begin to ramp up from the halfway point. Bowman was able to remain within striking distance as they approached the home turn, getting off heels and peeling into the

clear at the top of the straight to make his challenge. The leader kicked strongly on straightening but the five-year-old was coming strongly inside the final 150m, sticking his nose in front with 100m to run and holding his rival comfortably on the line, with the official margin being a neck. FOREMOST TEDDY jumped a $42 chance and went straight to the front under Keagan De Melo. With no pace on offer, the longshot was afforded every opportunity up on the speed and after sitting outside the leader right from the beginning, showed a handy turn-of-foot at the top of the straight. He broke clear from the rest of the chasing pack at the top of the straight with only Capital Legend looking the danger. He fought hard for the victory but just found one better on the night as the first two across the line finished well ahead of third. GALLANT VALOUR was the next to cross the line, sneaking up the inside in the home straight and finishing off well for third.

Race 8 – Kalanchoe Handicap, HK $2,050,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1650m – Track Good

Time: 1:41.05 Standard Time: 1:39.85 Course/Class record: 1:38.55 Telecom FIghters

Keagan De Melo went one better in race eight though as IVY LEAGUE (IRE 5yo g Galileo – Timbuktu) clung on for the victory. After getting away well from barrier five, De Melo put the gelding into a position just off the speed as they worked down the side of the course. As they worked down the back, De Melo found himself in the one-out-one-back position and getting the run of the race as they turned off the back. The South African hoop began to move into the race at the home turn, peeling wide and making his run down the middle of the track. He ran to the front shortly after straightening but was hanging in badly as De Melo tried to straighten him up early in the straight. De Melo was only able to fully test the gelding close to home with the five-year-old still hanging in right to the line, but he had enough ability to hold on for the win, seeing off the race favourite in a tight photo finish. SIMPLY MAVERICK settled a little worse than midfield under Zac Purton after being a touch slow into stride. He travelled well throughout the race and passing the 500m point, Purton began to move around the field and begin his run. He was on the back of the eventual winner as they turned for home, with Zac Purton giving his mount every chance to get the job done down the middle of the track. He continued to dig in with Purton throwing everything he had at the gelding, but it wasn't enough as he went down by a nose on the line. CHAIN OF GOLD was last as they turned for home under Lyle Hewitson as the South African hoop worked between runners in the straight. He closed off strongly to run to within a half-length of the winner.

Race 9 – Oncidium Handicap, HK $1,860,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good

Time: 1:09.68 Standard Time: 1:09.60 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision

Both Zac Purton and Danny Shum made it a winning treble on the night as SPORTS LEGEND (AUS 4yo g Deep Field – Twist Tops) made it back-to-back wins. The gelding burst straight to the front from barrier 11, showing plenty of early speed to lead them into the first turn. Purton kept the field running down the back straight as the field was strung out through the middle stages. The champion hoop was able to harness some of the energy that Sports Legend had to put in a good kick at the top of the straight. He led by two lengths at the 200m point and it was all over with 100m left to run, with the four-year-old making it back-to-back wins with an all-the-way victory again tonight. COLOURFUL EMPEROR jumped favourite ahead of Sports Legend and sat off the eventual winner in running. Angus Chung wasn't too far away throughout the race, but he was unable to reel in the tearaway leader in the closing stages. He finished off strongly to be just three-quarters of-a-length away at the finish. SWEET BRIAR had railed through to be in third as they turned into the straight and stuck on well in the closing stages, but he was no match for the first two across the line.


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