The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, June 4th, 2020
RACE 1 OLD BAILEY HANDICAP HK $1,450,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 – Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 2200m – Track Good
Time: 2:18.58 Standard Time: 2:16.30 Course/Class Record: 2:14.88
Winner: BEAUTY HAPPY (IRE 4yo g Elzaam – Diamond Circle) backs up a Class 3 win at 1800m on May 13 with another here, and put it down to rider Vagner Borges hoodwinking the field. He was allowed such pedestrian sectionals in front, the seven runners behind him at the finish could all be about D-minus for tactics. A winner in Ireland pre-export, the gelding was successful at Cork over 2000m to win his maiden. No surprises he’s now flying along at the staying trips after a few starts to acclimatise.
Runner-up: VINCY dashed home strongly into second but as the favourite really no chance to win or ever look like it. Well backed with Purton up his performance could only be judged on his finishing burst in a walk and sprint race.
Run Of The Race: VINCY clocked a very slick 22.05 the final 400m but had far too many lengths to make up.
Disappointment: The tactics. You’d have to say the rival jockeys fell asleep at the wheel. This should have been run at a far more genuine pace.
Comparison: Over two seconds outside standard and just a crawl, first 1400m in around 1:33.00 is a canter.
Market Mover: TANGMERE $13.20 to $8.10
RACE 2 STAUNTON HANDICAP HK $967,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 – Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:10.07 Standard Time: 1:10.10 Course/Class Record: 1:08.92
Winner: WINSTON’S LAD (AUS 8yo g Churchill Downs – Caralowe) ends a long drought taking his first win since September 2018. Interestingly, he had not raced at Happy Valley since October 2018 so he ended two rather lengthy dry spells in one hit tonight. Now the winner of six from 55 the now eight-year-old won his maiden in Australia in 2015 for Robbie Griffiths before heading offshore. Big finish from well in the back half to get them wide and late – blinkers on.
Runner-up: DAILY BEAUTY should have won. Just a wee check after the turn when seeking a clear gap proved costly, changing momentum. He dashed through the gap that appeared though had lost the battle for top speed to WINSTON’S LAD for that short few strides- that proved the difference. We’ve noted this horse lately, he remains winless in Hong Kong but one showing a nice upward trend in effort.
Run Of The Race: TRAVEL DATUK one of a few to run well, but rally noteworthy for a bold finish from near last on the turn and in tight quarters that final 50 metres. Home in a race-best 22.57. Not a horse than wins often, in fact zero from 40 starts so a long time overdue.
Disappointment: SUPER WINNER ($6.10) was well favoured and worked up to find the lead, perhaps just had to work a little too hard to get there. Faded fast in the straight.
Comparison: Right on the standard and good effort the winner to come from well back.
Market Mover: WINSTON’S LAD $23.70 to $12.60, SUPER ALLIANCES $6.40 to $3.90
RACE 3 WYNDHAM HANDICAP HK $967,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 – Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:39.69 Standard Time: 1:40.45 Course/Class Record: 1:38.83
Winner: MURRAY’S PARTNERS (NZ 4yo g Towkay – Taatyana) picks up win one of his career in start 13 for Dennis Yip and you could put the turnaround in fortune down to an improved barrier draw. He’s left from gates 12 and 14 in his last two attempts, so gate two a luxury here and top rider Karis Teetan did the rest. Sixth on the fence in the run the pair found a saloon gap one off the rail on the turn and they ground out a strong win, shading a very game STARLIT KNIGHT in the shadows of the post.
Runner-up: STARLIT KNIGHT was ridden along from the jump from a wide draw to be outside the leader and his performance to still be a winning chance at the 100m mark was outstanding. A three-time winner from 50 starts, he nearly ended a lengthy winless streak, last time saluting in December 2018.
Run Of The Race: STARLIT KNIGHT was very good in a nice form turnaround and matched by a big finish from third placed UNIVERSAL GO GO who picked up many lengths from the rear. Many hopes at the turn and most had their chance.
Disappointment: GREEN ENVY sidled up to them just before the turn and looked the one to kick on and win this. But very disappointing, as too CLASSIC POSH with the 133lb tonight. Will barrier trial and be vetted before resuming.
Comparison: STARLIT KNIGHT’S performance excellent on the clock, breaking standard comfortably (0.76) and doing work.
Market Mover: STARLIT KNIGHT $24.80 to $12.90, GREEN ENVY $7.70 to $6.30
Fined & Suspended: Neil Callan (ORIENTAL ELITE) $35,000 and June 21 meeting Sha Tin for careless riding at the 350m mark.
Top Military and Ben So, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
RACE 4 STAUNTON HANDICAP HK $967,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 – Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.96 Standard Time: 1:10.10 Course/Class Record: 1:08.92
Winner: TOP MILITARY (NZ 6yo g Swiss Ace – Encosta De Nacre) steals the limelight, winning at 280/1 and given no chance, obviously. He’d been stranded with no form in eight previous starts in Hong Kong after soft form in New Zealand on wet tracks where he’d won twice as ‘Swiss Military’ for Shane Crawford. The only key to the big turnaround has to be put down to the addition of blinkers. Apprentice Ben So was looking for room from the turn to the 150m when he finally eased outward into clear galloping room and the response was immediate, a huge finish. This is why racing is great!
Runner-up: SKY SHOW was red-hot and expected to win under Zac Purton who put him in a prime spot third and ready to strike. Looks home 200m out and then 50m out, but this whirlwind finish wide catches him napping.
Run Of The Race: TOP MILITARY couldn’t be matched. At such huge odds and not clear until very late it was an outstanding win. Sprints 23.11 the final 400m, next-best 23.63 so the long odds outsider eclipsed the field by at least a half-second. Trainer Benno Yung told stewards he tried the horse in blinkers after it had raced well in New Zealand with the blinkers applied.
Disappointment: SPRINT FORWARD and SKY TREASURE both appeared to have their chances setting the pace as favoured runners.
Comparison: Slightly under standard time.
Market Mover: SKY SHOW $2.10 to $1.60
RACE 5 WYNDHAM HANDICAP HK $967,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 – Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:40.44 Standard Time: 1:40.45 Course/Class Record: 1:38.83
Winner: LIGHTNING STEED (AUS 5yo g California Dane – Deal Or No Deal) was heavily backed late after success at the track and distance on May 20, punters thinking he could carry the extra weight and win again. A decent plunge from 12/1into $5.50 the jump he was never in doubt once Vincent Ho found the lead then dictated the speed, kicking off the corner to win easily. A 1000m winner up the straight at Sha Tin when he won his first in Hong Kong, the Aussie-bred has collected three more but all at 1650m.
Runner-up: LUCKY MISSILE peaks his form, six unplaced race starts in Hong Kong under the guidance of David Hall since being bought out of New Zealand after a March 2019 trial placing. Three back on the fence was a good place for him, holding that rails run and finishing strongly. First run at 1650m, up from 1400m, proves a successful switch.
Run Of The Race: Only late, but HUMBLE STEED caught the eye with good late work from last. His 23.62 last split was the best in the race and he ran eighth.
Disappointment: COURAGEOUS DRAGON started slim odds off the inside gate under Joao Moreira but quite disappointing after trailing the pace-making winner all the way.
Comparison: Right on standard and perfectly rated ride from Vincent Ho to control all the tempo.
Market Mover: LIGHTNING STEED $13.70 to $5.50
RACE 6 SHELLEY HANDICAP HK $967,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 – Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 1000m – Track Good
Time: 0:56.96 Standard Time: 0:57.15 Course/Class Record: 0:56.39
Winner: WE THE SOUTH (AUS 3yo g Your Song – Tonkatsu) grabs his second win in his past three starts for the John Moore – Vagner Borges combination, an placed in the other, all at 1000m at the Valley. He’s become a really improved horse, especially as a leader, now in front in his last four starts and the results to show for it. Just six starts into his racing career he is now very-much on the verge of Class 3 and some tougher competition, though as a leader with no weight in that grade he is sure to be competitive.
Runner-up: JAZZ STEED was nearly ridden to perfection by Chad Schofield off a tricky barrier eight, back of midfield early then onto the fence before angling into a nice gap before the corner. The Exceed And Excel gelding flew home, missing by a nose in making up a number of lengths on the winner. Just his sixth start and now on the podium for the first time. Should win really soon.
Run Of The Race: JAZZ STEED was the standout in charging to the wire. Keep DAILY DELIGHT in mind next time, did OK from near last and did scope with mucus in the trachea and found lame left fore.
Disappointment: OVERSUBSCRIBED got the run to win the race in the trail and should have done better, fading to finish eighth at $5.30.
Comparison: A tick under standard and in the end Borges again too cagey in front. A rider going very, very well.
Market Mover: FORZA ANGEL $8.00 to $4.80, OVERSUBSCRIBED $7.70 to $5.30
Reliable Team and Karis Teetan, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
RACE 7 COCHRANE HANDICAP HK $2,100,000
Class 2 – Rating 100-80 – Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 1800m – Track Good
Time: 1:48.75 Standard Time: 1:49.25 Course/Class Record: 1:47.61
Winner: RELIABLE TEAM (NZ 4yo g Reliable Man – Stella Doro) had the blinkers added and that resulted in him wanting to run early, though Karis Teetan guided him through that and soon had him one-one and travelling sweetly. This just proves his reliability. Win five from start 13 in Hong Kong and Frankie Lor has a real beauty here. The Kiwi-bred grey successful in Class 2 already and no mean feat after arriving as an unraced horse in 2019. His dam Stella Doro was quite handy and another daughter of Faltaat to leave a New Zealand bred winner on tonight’s card.
Runner-up: BUTTERFIELD did burn early from out wide he was asked to extend his stride to get up outside the leader. And the way the race was run probably should have been first under pressure. Yet, the winner of four from six starts in Brazil to 2400m was just in his element here. If anything the 1800m short of his best, beaten a short head.
Run Of The Race: BUTTERFIELD the standout, extra good after doing that extra spadework early.
Disappointment: HELENA BABY had of course placed in Class 2 last start and was expected to be very hard to beat here on the back up. Perfect ride, perfect opportunity when the gaps opened on the turn – no dash.
Comparison: A shade under standard in a much faster staying contest than we’d seen earlier in the night.
Market Mover: BUTTERFIELD $16.90 to $11.00, COLUMBUS COUNTY $4.30 to $3.10
RACE 8 LYNDHURST HANDICAP HK $1,450,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 – Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:39.74 Standard Time: 1:40.00 Course/Class Record: 1:38.61
Winner: DIVINE UNICORN (GB 6yo g Lope De Vega – Inchberry) came into the race having been unsuccessful in 14 previous attempts, though a recent stable change to Chris So may have helped turn the corner. He’s had a tough ride given he’d already won five from 12 in Australia for Matthew Dunn including the 2018 Tattersalls Cup. So, he had to kick off in Class 2 and though it has taken a good 12 months to get there, he finds his mojo once again. The rail the place to be at Happy Valley and young Ben So found three back the fence on a night where he rose in stature as a jockey in Hong Kong, two wins.
Runner-up: SUNSHINE WARRIOR was so game, it took the entire length of the straight to find one good enough to run him down. He’s won three from seven and twice placed in 2020, Tony Cruz has this horse pinging.
Run Of The Race: A few doing very nice work late, FLASH FAMOUS and NAMJONG PLUS into third and fourth respectively from last, and notable were BEST ALLIANCE who wasn’t clear until the 150m, and CHARIZARD both making nice late headway.
Disappointment: RICH AND LUCKY was the $2.10 favourite and poor. He had a nice run in transit and produced by Purton at the right time but was soon going up and down on the one spot. Vetted and no abnormalities. Will barrier trial and be vetted before resuming.
Comparison: Shade under standard, that’s been the tone for much of the night, no fireworks in the track tonight.
Market Mover: RICH AND LUCKY $3.10 to $2.10
RACE 9 GRAHAM HANDICAP HK $1,450,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 – Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.31 Standard Time: 1:09.85 Course/Class Record: 1:08.68
Winner: HIGHLAND FORTUNE (USA 4yo g Declaration Of War – Pan Dulce) was a maiden winner in Ireland at 1400m and arrived with just the one win under the belt. He began his career in Hong Kong 12 month ago and thus far had been unable to win in seven starts. The ball started rolling for him tonight. Zac Purton, who’d had a dreadful night, throws his leg over the horse for the first time and gets the job done – something he often does. Box seating behind the leader the gap came after a brief interruption in traffic and Purton drove the horse through to win, you wouldn’t say a supreme performance, but he’s on the board for Francis Lui.
Runner-up: FANTASY also sat on the speed and angled up to win it before the former gave a better kick. An 11lb differential between he and the winner a real advantage in the end, FANTASY brave with 133lb. Another Purton-Moreira quinella to end the night.
Run Of The Race: SMART LEADER scooted home strong out wide to take fourth and was only getting warmed up. He had to land a bit further back from a wider draw tonight and will take beating when he gets a low draw again.
Disappointment: HARDLY SWEARS had some fans here but found a conspicuous last coming to the turn and too far away. Ran the fastest final 400m split in the field so don’t drop yet.
Comparison: Good tempo, well under standard and a genuinely run race to end the night’s racing.
Market Mover: HIGHLAND FORTUNE $4.40 to $2.90, ISLAND SHINE $8.60 to $6.80