3 minute read
Brett Davis provides exclusive review of Sha Tin races.
Race 1 – Mr Award Handicap, HK $780,000
Class 5 – Turf – Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:09.77 Standard Time: 1:09.70 Course/Class record: 1:08.64 Iron King
Winner: MELBOURNE HALL (GB 6yo g Harbour Watch – An Ghalanta) got away well and was able to work his away across to slot in one off the fence in the early stages, settling in behind the pace under Luke Ferraris. He enjoyed a lovely run throughout and travelled beautifully as they turned for home, with Ferraris having to push his way into the clear at the top of the stretch. He let rip when asked by Ferraris, quickening nicely to hit the front with 250m remaining. The six-year-old had extended his lead with 100m to run and although some ground was being taken off him late, he was too good, winning by 1-1/4 lengths.
Runner-Up: TAKINGUFURTHER jumped on terms but didn't muster much pace despite being ridden along in the opening stages, eventually sitting midfield as they turned out of the back straight. Jerry Chau stayed away from the rail around the turn with the pace quite good up front and began to be revved up with 500m to go. Chau got into the clear at the top of the straight, with the gelding just grinding away out wider on the course. He stuck on gamely to run into second position, but he was no match for the winner.
Run Of The Race: MELBOURNE HALL got all the favours today and made the most of his opportunity, winning very comfortably in the end. He'd been in good touch this season, and everything panned out for him beautifully, sitting in behind a genuine tempo and kicking away at the top of the stretch.
Disappointment: HAPPY TIME jumped well and didn't have to use much energy to hold his forward position from the inside draw, but was taken on through the middle stages and set a genuine tempo. He was headed with 250m to run, but began to weaken badly from the furlong pole and ended up in 11th place, beaten 5-1/4 lengths.
Comparison: Right around the standard time.
Market Mover: GOOD BEAUTY and FORTUNE HERO were specked at double figures, with TRONIC MIGHTY also having support at massive odds.
Race 2 – Miraculous Handicap, HK $780,000
Class 5 – Turf – Distance 1400m - Track Good
Time: 1:23.23 Standard Time: 1:21.95 Course/Class record: 1:21.53 Exponents
Winner: ONE STEP AHEAD (NZ 6yo g Tavistock – Leesing) wasn't bustled along after jumping on terms, with Luke Currie dropping into the second half of the field as they sorted their order out. He was wedged between runners right through the middle stages as he ended up near the tail of the field with 600m to run. Currie needed a touch of luck at the top of the straight, with the horse travelling beautifully but running into a dead end with 300m remaining. Despite being held up momentarily, the Australian hoop was able to get off heels and into the clear, with the six-year-old beginning to wind up between runners with 150m to run. He sprouted wings over the closing stages, bursting out of the pack to make a late lunge at the leader, with the son of Tavistock getting his nose down on the line and stealing the win in a photo finish.
Runner-Up: RUBY STARS jumped brilliantly and showed good pace early on, with Alex Badel making light work of the awkward draw to get outside the leader inside the first 200m of the event. He slid back a touch through the middle stages, taking a sit just off the leader around the turn, before creeping up once again to join the leader as they turned for home. He ran to the lead with 300m to run and was challenged with 150m remaining, but fought off that challenge and looked to be home with 50m to go. He looked the winner with only a few strides left, but over the top came One Step Ahead, being tackled in the shadows of the post and having to settle for second.
Run Of The Race: What a performance by ONE STEP AHEAD. He didn't have the best of luck at the top of the straight, but absolutely rattled home once clear and got the win right on the line. A powerful finishing burst.
Disappointment: MISSION SMART jumped well and slotted into the running line just worse than midfield under Zac Purton, who had the gelding travelling comfortably through the middle stages. Purton worked his way into clear air on straightening and he did quicken well initially, but plateaued passing the 200m point and fell back through the field. He finished in 12th place, beaten 4-1/4 lengths.
Comparison: Well outside the standard time.
Market Mover: RUBY STARS had support late in betting.
Race 3 – Big Profit Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1400m - Track Good
Time: 1:22.08 Standard Time: 1:21.75 Course/Class record: 1:20.80 Perfect Pair
Winner: HK DRAGON (JPN 4yo g Lord Kanaloa – Sweet Lady) wasn't the fastest into stride but mustered well under Lyle Hewitson to settle just worse than midfield once fully into stride. Hewitson stayed out wide in the three-wide trail turning off the back, with the pace quite good through the early stages. He was able to track into the race nicely around the outside of the field and Hewitson started to urge the gelding along passing the 500m point. The four-year-old ended up near the centre of the track on straightening, but was beginning to motor out wide. He got to the lead with 100m to run and was far too strong in the closing stages, pulling away to win by three-quarters of a length in good style.
Runner-Up: FIRE BALL got away quickly from an inside draw and was able to settle just off the pace under Antoine Hamelin. He enjoyed a cosy run through the middle stages with Hamelin happy where he was, before coming off the rail as they turned for home. He was working into the race well down the straight but didn't have the clearest of runs down the stretch. He was able to work his way through traffic and was doing his best work over the closing stages, but the winner was just too good.
Run Of The Race: It was a nice maiden victory by HK DRAGON, who looks as though he could win many more races in the future.
Disappointment: SUPER RED DRAGON jumped the $3.30 favourite and was a touch slow into stride and had to be roused along by Vincent Ho to eventually find a midfield position on settling down. He lengthened nicely at the top of the straight and really began motoring with 200m to run, but ended up running into a wall of runners. Ho had to restrain his mount and couldn't be ridden out over the closing stages. It was a tough watch for punters, but obviously a forgivable performance heading into the new season.
Comparison: Outside the standard time.
Market Mover: FIRE BALL had some backing just prior to the start.
Race 4 – Victory Marvel Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:09.02 Standard Time: 1:09.10 Course/Class record: 1:08.40 Master Eight
Winner: ICE LEGEND (AUS 5yo g Whittington – Anakalinka) jumped on terms from a wide barrier and was taken back toward the tail of the field under Derek Leung. The pace was good as they turned off the back straight, with Leung starting to improve his position as he moved three-wide passing the 600m point. He tracked into the race nicely around the turn despite ending up the widest on straightening, lengthening beautifully down the centre of the track. He was still a few lengths away with 200m to run, but he was flying over the concluding stages to round up the leaders with 50m to run and prove too strong at the finish, winning comfortably by three-quarters of a length.
Runner-Up: YOUTHFUL DEAL got away well and was able to slot into the running line, sitting just in behind the speed under Zac Purton. The pace was good through the middle stages and Purton found himself in a brilliant spot as he peeled three-wide turning for home, with the gelding ambling up to join the leaders under a strong hold. He responded well when Purton pushed the button, hitting the front with 150m to run, but he was unable to hold off the winner who came storming over the top late in the race.
Run Of The Race: It was an impressive win from ICE LEGEND who stormed home over the top of his rivals in brilliant fashion. It was an emphatic victory, and he can go on with the job next season.
Disappointment: YOUNG HORIZON got away well off the inside barrier and was well positioned in behind the speed throughout the run. Jerry Chau began ramping up the pressure as they turned for home, but didn't really respond to the urgings and finished in 11th place, beaten 9-3/4 lengths.
Comparison: Just inside the standard time.
Market Mover: GLORIOUS LOVER was tried at double figure odds.
Race 5 – Solar Hei Hei Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1800m - Track Good
Time: 1:48.98 Standard Time: 1:47.60 Course/Class record: 1:46.54 Crown Avenue
Winner: TURQUOISE ALPHA (IRE 5yo g Excelebration – Start The Music) wasn't the fastest into stride and Zac Purton was happy to allow the gelding to settle near the tail of the field, racing between runners. He began racing a touch keenly passing the 1000m point as the pace slowed up front and ended up in second-last position as they turned off the back straight. Purton took off passing the 600m point and was improving nicely under his own steam four-wide around the field and was responding well to the Australian's urgings as they entered the straight. He ground away out toward the centre of the track and reeled in the leader inside the final 50m and got his nose down on the line to steal the win in a photo finish.
Runner-Up: BRIGHT KID was a touch slow into stride and ended up near the rear of the field under Matthew Chadwick, with the local hoop sitting in the three-wide line as they sorted their order out. Chadwick tacked onto the back of a rival four-wide and was being taken into the race nicely around the turn and was shoved wider on the course again as they turned into the straight. He ran on brilliantly to take the lead with 200m to run and was still a clear leader with 100m remaining. He tired in the shadows of the post for the second start in-a-row, coughing up the lead in the final few bounds and having to settle for second place.
Run Of The Race: TURQUOISE ALPHA was superb in the closing stages, running over the top of the leader late in the race despite the slow tempo through the middle stages. He sprinted well under Purton and can hopefully continue his good form into next season.
Disappointment: CHATER PINS jumped an $11 chance for the Joao Moreira and David Hayes combination, and settled toward the rear of the field. He was still at the rear turning for home but weakened early in the straight and went to the line untested over the final 300m. The gelding was found to be displaying an irregular heart rhythm post-race. A complete forgive run.
Comparison: Well outside standard.
Market Mover: DARCU JOY and BRIGHT KID were the best backed runners.
Race 6 – Medic Kingdom Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1400m - Track Good
Time: 1:22.70 Standard Time: 1:21.75 Course/Class record: 1:20.80 Perfect Pair
Winner: SINGAPORE SPIRIT (AUS 3yo g Vancouver – Fledgling) jumped well from an outside barrier and was able to work across with relative ease to sit up on the pace under Luke Ferraris. The leader broke away down the back stretch, but Ferraris wasn't in a hurry to reel him in as he sat 2-1/2 lengths away turning off the back straight. The leader came back to the field on the turn and the three-year-old took it right up to the leader at the top of the straight. He gained the ascendency with about 250m remaining and kept on well under the urgings of Ferraris, holding all his rivals at bay to win by a half-length in good fashion.
Runner-Up: STAR CONTACT wasn't the fastest into stride but was able to work his way into a midfield position on settling down under Matthew Chadwick. He travelled comfortably in the run and was able to work his way into the race passing the 600m point, moving out three-wide and beginning to improve into the straight under his own steam. He kept on well out wider on the course to run into second position, but he was unable to reel in the leader who was strong to the line.
Run Of The Race: There's plenty of merit to the win of SINGAPORE SPIRIT who notched up his maiden victory in good style. He was left exposed midway down the straight, but dug deep in the closing stages as a wall of runners were coming at him late. He stuck on gamely though and appears to have a bright future next season.
Disappointment: HANG'S DECISION was away awkwardly and was a clear last early in the race and remained in that position turning off the back stretch. He came under heavy pressure from Vincent Ho with 700m remaining, but was responding as they swung into the straight. He was only fair down the straight, although he did pick up a few positions in the run to the line, eventually finishing in 9th place, beaten 4 lengths.
Comparison: Nearly a second outside standard.
Market Mover: SUPER HIGHWAY had plenty of support late in betting.
Race 7 – All You WIsh Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1400m - Track Good
Time: 1:21.46 Standard Time: 1:21.45 Course/Class record: 1:20.62 Preciousship
Winner: NEVER TOO SOON (AUS 4yo g Written Tycoon – Best Yet To Come) got away well from a middle draw and wasn't interested in the early speed battle, with Zac Purton easing back to sit in the second half of the field. Purton was able to improve between runners as they turned off the back, and continued to improve around the turn as his rivals began to fan wider on the course. He got a dream run as they swung for home, with Purton all of a sudden finding himself only a length off the lead, with the four-year-old working into the race beautifully under his own steam. He was able to shoot through the middle and take the lead with 350m to run as Purton started to ramp up the pressure as he got to the lead. He was a clear leader with 150m remaining and held a big advantage right to the finish, bolting in by 2-3/4 lengths in a fantastic win which put Purton ahead in the Jockeys' Premiership.
Runner-Up: DECRYPT was snagged back to last by Derek Leung after jumping on terms from barrier 11. He was over a length off the second last runner as they turned out of the back straight, but had improved passing the 600m point as Leung wedged his way between runners turning for home. Leung shot right across the field to get right to the outside in the straight, with the flashy grey quickening nicely at the top of the straight to run into second position with 200m to go, and for a fleeting moment look a winning chance. But that was shortly put to bed as Decrypt was no match for the winner, holding on to second position by a quarter of a length.
Run Of The Race: A dominant victory by NEVER TOO SOON makes him the obvious pick for the 'Run Of The Race'. Everything worked out better than Zac Purton could have planned for, with the son of Written Tycoon simply scintillating when he let down at the top of the straight. He's now won 3/5 at the 1400m journey, and he can continue to rise through the ranks.
Disappointment: BEAUTY MISSION appeared to be working into the race nicely with 600m to run, as Alex Badel moved three-wide turning into the straight. He came under pressure with 500m remaining though and was very plain in the straight. He finished 10-1/4 lengths away in 9th place after jumping the second favourite at $6.
Comparison: Bang on the standard.
Market Mover: No real market moves with RED TITAN jumping favourite at $3.50.
Race 8 – The Hong Kong Racehorse Owners Association Trophy (Handicap), HK $1,570,000
Class 1 – Turf – Distance 1600m - Track Good
Time: 1:34.98 Standard Time: 1:33.70 Course/Class record: 1:32.24 Preciousship
Winner: TURIN REDSUN (GB 4yo g Dubawi – Irish Rookie) jumped brilliantly and was able to land in a great position just off the speed under Zac Purton, which was only moderate through the opening half of the race. Purton was able to narrow the gap around the turn and get right up onto the back of his main dangers as the pressure ramped up turning for home. He was still 2 lengths adrift with 400m to run, but he quickened beautifully when Purton pushed the button and joined the leader with 100m remaining. He stuck his nose in front in the final 50m and held the advantage right to the line, taking the victory in a photo finish, with the margin officially a short head.
Runner-Up: MONEY CATCHER was one of the first into stride and went forward under Joao Moreira to sit just off the leader through the first 800m. He was a touch keen through this period with only a moderate tempo. He settled better turning off the back straight and inched his way closer to the leader as they passed the 500m point, with Moreira ramping up the pressure on straightening to take the lead. He kicked away to be over a length in front with 200m remaining, and dug deep when the eventual winner came up on his outside. He stuck on brilliantly right to the line, not going down without a fight, but he just couldn't hold the advantage. He went down narrowly, with third a further 2-1/2 lengths back to third.
Run Of The Race: TURIN REDSUN had plenty of work to do at the top of the straight, but Zac Purton timed the run to perfection, out-gunning his opponent in the closing stages. He finally capitalised on his good form to break his Hong Kong maiden in the feature of the day.
Disappointment: FANTASTIC TREASURE was racing in a similar position to the winner throughout the race after jumping well from the inside draw. He hung in there initially at the top of the straight, but couldn't go on with the job in the closing stages, finishing in 6th place and beaten 4-1/2 lengths.
Comparison: Over a second outside the standard time.
Market Mover: BOURBONAIRE and MONEY CATCHER were both tried late in betting.
Race 9 – Pingwu Spark Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:09.85 Standard Time: 1:08.90 Course/Class record: 1:08.28 Reve Parisien
Winner: LUCKY EIGHT (AUS 3yo g Pride Of Dubai – Hussy Five Oh) was quickly into stride and made light work of the wide barrier, getting to the lead and setting a moderate tempo under Karis Teetan. The Mauritian hoop packed the field up as they swung into the straight, and was headed passing the 400m, but kicked back to regain the ascendency wit a furlong to run. He fought off the first challenger and kicked a length clear inside the final stages and had enough of a gap to hold off the fast-finishing Power Koepp to make it two-from-two to start his career.
Runner-Up: POWER KOEPP was away only fairly but was able to find a good position from a favourable draw, sitting midfield under Alex Badel. He was racing keenly as they came off the back straight and the pace slowed, prompting Badel to pop out three-wide with cover and get a lovely trail into the race. He was left flat-footed when the sprint went on initially, but once he hit top gear, he stormed home in a very eye-catching finish. He was strong to the line, but he couldn't reel in the leader at the death and was forced to settle for second position.
Run Of The Race: LUCKY EIGHT has a bright future ahead of him, but POWER KOEPP is the horse I want to follow out of this race. He'll get a couple of ranking points for finishing so close to a rising star, and will most likely start his next campaign at the bottom of Class 2 company which should present a brilliant betting opportunity.
Disappointment: GLOBAL HARMONY wasn't the fastest into stride and found himself toward the tail of the field on settling down. Zac Purton was able to get clear air at the top of the straight, but the gelding weakened badly with 250m to run and wasn't fully tested over the closing stages. He finished in 13th, beaten 5-1/4 lengths.
Comparison: Way outside standard.
Market Mover: ADIOS was heavily backed, halving his quote to jump a $5.70 chance, while POWER KOEPP also had support.
Race 10 – Joy And Fun Handicap, HK $2,400,000
Class 2 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:08.34 Standard Time: 1:08.55 Course/Class record: 1:07.89 Thanks Forever
Winner: LUCKY SWEYNESSE (NZ 3yo g Sweynesse – Madonna Mia) got away well and was pushed along by Zac Purton to roll forward and take the lead. He was taken on around the turn which stretched the field out passing the 600m point. Despite being softened up in the middle stages, he turned into the straight a length in front with Purton still having a strong hold of the three-year-old. Purton only pushed the button with 250m remaining and the response was immediate with the son of Sweynesse kicking further in front. He was far too good for his rivals today with Purton easing him down over the final 50m and winning comfortably by 1-1/2 lengths.
Runner-Up: REWARDING TOGETHER got away well but was caught in a tricky position early on in the race, with Matthew Chadwick sliding back to settle about midfield. He was caught three-wide and without cover turning off the back, but he was able to slot in with cover passing the 600m point. He got into the clear at the top of the straight and was doing his best work over the final stages as he really caught the eye running into a clear second.
Run Of The Race: We know how good the winner is, but REWARDING TOGETHER works his way into this segment. He drifted back through the middle stages, but powered home over the closing stages. He was the eye-catcher, and he looks a horse to follow.
Disappointment: VOYAGE WARRIOR bounced well and tracked the leader (and eventual winner) right through the 1200m event. He had nothing to offer though when Lyle Hewitson pushed the button and he drifted back through the field, ending up in 8th spot, beaten 5 lengths.
Comparison: Inside the standard time.
Market Mover: TRILLION WIN had support, with BE READY being specked at double figures.
Race 11 – Sight Winner Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1600m - Track Good
Time: 1:34.61 Standard Time: 1:34.35 Course/Class record: 1:33.19 Beauty Fit
Winner: ENCOUNTERED (IRE 3yo g Churchill – Enrol) jumped well and was able to use his inside draw in his favour, settling just off the pace under Matthew Poon. He travelled well between horses right through the middle stages and was always within striking distance of the leader. Poon waited until they'd entered the straight to push the button, with the sea's parting and a clear run opening up right in front of him. He let down powerfully once he hit top gear to slide up the inside of the favourite and hit the front with 100m to run. He powered away over the closing stages to win comfortably by a length at massive $198 odds. What a way to end the season in Hong Kong.
Runner-Up: POWERFUL WINGS was away only fairly and settled in the back half of the field under Vincent Ho. He was pushed further back turning out of the back straight and needed plenty of luck as they turned for home with almost every runner in front of him. Ho was able to slice his way through traffic at the top of the stretch and really started to get a move on with a furlong to run. He did his best work over the closing stages and ran into second position, but he was no match for the winner.
Run Of The Race: POWERFUL WINGS is the one I want to follow out of this race. He's not going to win often due to his racing pattern, but if he's able to get into the clear and work into the race better than he was able to do today, then he's sure to be in the finish more often than not.
Disappointment: CHEVALIER PRINCE didn't have any luck whatsoever in today's event, racing four-wide and without cover right throughout the 1600m journey. He had nothing left in the tank once they'd turned for home and ended up finishing back in 13th place, beaten 13 lengths.
Comparison: Just outside the standard time.
Market Mover: LET'S DO IT had his fans, while STORM LEGEND and SUPER WINNER had supporters at longer odds.