The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, September 23rd, 2020:
RACE 1 STANLEY HANDICAP HK $750,000
Class 5 – Rating 40-0 - Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1800m – Track Good
Time: 1:48.69 Standard Time: 1:50.30 Course/Class Record: 1:49.33
Winner: STRAPPING BAUHINIA (NZ 5yo g Tavistock – Indian Song) debuted in December 2018 and off four runs that season was never closer than eleventh. Last season he also had just four starts – closest finish ninth. Trainer Me Tsui stayed loyal, there was obviously something there. The horse paraded in great order pre-race tonight, looked ready to do something off the lowly-rating of 20 points. Gate one would help, straight to the trail for Vincent Ho and off the fence to make his claim on the turn, proving too strong. One barrier trial at Conghua on September 10 revealed nothing, finishing last of four runners. There’s a race for everyone. This was his. A $NZ375,000 yearling buy for Me Tsui back in 2017.
Runner-up: VIRTUS STAR loomed to win the race when he dashed at them quickly off the home turn from a nice handy spot middle outer. Seemed destined to win but could not get to the girth of the winner and battled honestly. Frustrating winless streak continues for him but in light of a very quick time his run a genuine attempt.
Run Of The Race: SKY GEM was brave to run third with 133lb backing up from racing on the all-weather track at Sha Tin on Sunday into a class record breaking event here. The Caspar Fownes-trained gelding should be improved with the two outings and now a wee freshen up off back-to-back races we should see his optimum performance in Class 5 in the next two or three weeks. FORTUNE PATROL improved from 1600m to 1800m in his second run this season and one that will prosper at 1800m and further from this point.
Disappointment: BABY STORM set terms off a tote move and had his chance to kick but perhaps after setting a record speed the exertions were just too much once the business end arrived.
Comparison: Very quick, track upgraded immediately from ‘Good’ to ‘Good to Firm’ after a record-breaking run for this class.
Market Mover: VIRTUS STAR $4.90 to $3.40, BABY STORM $13.40 to $10.00
RACE 2 REPULSE BAY HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:09.86 Standard Time: 1:09.90 Course/Class Record: 1:08.92
Deadheat Winner: JAZZ STEED (AUS 5yo g Exceed And Excel – Emotional Circus) can put success down to a basic rubber band. He’d got his tongue back as a hot favourite when resuming on September 9 and faded right out, a surprising result. So the tongue tie was added and back he came, looking the winner every stride to the post until SHING ON arrived at speed to share the winning result. That’s two wins, two placings from 10 starts for the unraced Australian-bred who began his career in Hong Kong exactly a year ago. Will grab another Class 4 win at short notice.
Deadheat Winner: SHINING ON (NZ 7yo g O’Reilly – Savabeel Star) ended a mixed 2019-2020 season with consecutive second placings that would put the writing on the wall for a bold start to the new season. He didn’t win, and did not lose either, so a perfect result if you look at it in retrospect of ratings and weight. Bred to be a very good horse, he’s not met those standards but a handy sort suited to a strong tempo as he gets back and fires home like he did tonight.
Run Of The Race: SHINING ON was so noticeably last after jumping that many would put a line through his chances over 1200m around Happy Valley. Put it down to a terrific ride from Vincent Ho, the man who rode the first winner tonight. He saved every possible inch of ground to angle off heels and fly the final 100m. Some good runs in behind, TELECOM ROCKET was twice unlucky in the straight and very good in fourth placing, and DESTIN will quickly improve from 1200m to 1400m, his fresh up outing here quite promising off some very inspired tote support.
Disappointment: Not notable disappointment here, BULLISH BROTHER perhaps a little bland the final 150m after finding space.
Comparison: On the standard, they allowed the leader some easy sectionals to get over and dictate for some way before the speed came into the race.
Market Mover: DESTIN $21.90 to $9.50, TELECOM ROCKET $6.40 to $4.70
RACE 3 MIDDLE BAY HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1000m – Track Good TF
Time: 0:57.17 Standard Time: 0:57.15 Course/Class Record: 0:56.39
Winner: FARM BUMPER (AUS 5yo g Tycoon Ruler – Buck N Jazz) gets Chad Schofield home for an early double after sharing success in the previous event aboard Jazz Steed. This gelding returned to the scene of his maiden success in Hong Kong, the Happy Valley 1000m his pet trip now after a March success in Class 5, now good enough to take the next step in Class 4. Late gaps had to come, and Schofield found them with a classy ride, pushing up sixth the fence to be handy enough and good enough to pick a path through the middle off the home turn. The Aussie-bred remains in Class 4 despite a winning penalty and should find more success this term, particularly on this track. A $50,000 yearling in Australia, he won a trial in New Zealand before export.
Runner-up: WILD WEST WING gave a good sight under Joao Moreira, onto the speed and kicking strongly in the run home to gain his second placing this season in Class 4 sprints for John Size. The son of Exceed And Excel was a very expensive yearling, $750,000 through the Inglis Easter Sale, so there is some capital to get back. Will win his maiden soon.
Run Of The Race: NAMJONG SINGS would have matched some heavy tote confidence had he jumped well, but he blundered when the gates opened and found himself second-last and with plenty to do. Nice tidy finish from last on the turn to be eating up the ground the final 150m and clocked in a sharp 21.77 the final 400m, a race-best. FORZA ANGEL looked a bit unlucky, rails run never really came when needed. TRAVEL DATUK ran on well as he invariably does.
Disappointment: ARDENODE was a bit bland home turn to the 100m then he got cracking again really late out wide. Expected to go close to winning this, he found a decent enough sit and presented at the right time but was bettered by others on the night. That run may well clean him up for next time, particularly if Chris So gets him up to 1200m.
Comparison: Another that lacked raw pace, bang on the standard again as the front four sorted themselves out quite quickly into positions.
Market Mover: NAMJONG SINGS $5.70 to $3.10
RACE 4 DEEP WATER BAY HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1650m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:39.44 Standard Time: 1:39.80 Course/Class Record: 1:38.61
Winner: TASHIDELEK (AUS 6yo g Street Cry – Sesenta) joins Douglas Whyte for the new season, one of the former John Moore-trained horses to be transferred after his training retirement in July. And Whyte finds the key to success, the 20-start maiden leading into tonight’s race in Hong Kong was a three-race winner in Sydney for Chris Waller when known as ‘Almighty Crown’. He had not been poor, eight placings from those 20 starts. Former champion jockey Whyte elected for one trial in early September with race rider Alexis Badel on board, and a quiet run suggested he could fire in the new term. Big run, back early and up wide mid-race.
Runner-up: NAMJONG PLUS finished resolutely wider on the track under Antoine Hamelin, got back of middle from the inside gate and solid. He only had five starts last season in an interrupted campaign, now already two starts into his 2020-2021 season. Consistent racing opportunities will help this horse, he has a handy record of five wins from 23 starts.
Run Of The Race: TASHIDELEK was second-last on settling, zipped up three-wide to be third or fourth the outer and despite behind under a ride coming to the corner he responded very strongly. Aced this field, his performance clearly superior to the rest. DELIGHTFUL LAOS ran the best last half-mile and a sound run with 132lb on his back.
Disappointment: FLASH FAMOUS was made to work hard to find the fence after a mid-race move and though he seemed to be kicking strongly enough on the corner the white flag soon went up, fading out.
Comparison: Under standard time but a stop-start affair this, they muddled the pace a lot.
Market Mover: NAMJONG PLUS $6.20 to $4.70
Fined: C Schofield (WEALTHY DELIGHT) $15,000 for failing to ride out to the line. J Moreira $10,000 for improper conduct.
Suspended: M L Yeung (URBAN DANCER) two Hong Kong race days for careless riding
RACE 5 SOUTH BAY HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1800m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:48.80 Standard Time: 1:49.60 Course/Class Record: 1:48.10
Winner: BEAUTY ANGEL (GB 4yo g Dark Angel – Handana) goes back-to-back albeit some weeks apart after bowing out a winner in July at Sha Tin over 1800m. Nice return from him, well weighted with 121lb and Joao Moreira to guide him through it, and a peach of ride again from the magic man. This horse will be competitive again next start in Class 4, Tony Cruz looks like he has good options on either track at distances varying from 1600m to even 2000m. He didn’t beat a stellar bunch here but you can only win.
Runner-up: RED ELYSEES was very good, did more early work than the winner and had to maintain a strong gallop throughout on the pace. They ran well under standard and a nice first-up run for the season from the seven-year-old, the veteran of 47 starts for Manfred Man. Last successful in February 2019 on a rating of 59, he ran on a rating of 60 tonight, so perhaps the stars are aligning.
Run Of The Race: RED ELYSEES was the pick of them, a brave performance from the well-practiced UK import. VILLA FIONN made up decent ground from the rear and could be coming back to the form that saw him win twice last season at Sha Tin and Happy Valley over a mile. And RULE THEE did a nice job taking shortcuts on the fence to run into third from well back.
Disappointment: DIONYSIS COLLIN was well below his best, wide the turn to make his bid and he quickly lost ground, very average from a horse that can do better. The big plunge was SHADOW BREAKER, trapped very wide early then into the lead but he punctured after turning for home.
Comparison: Run eight-tenths under standard and very genuine. They made the leader work to get there and it was honest from the jump.
Market Mover: SHADOW BREAKER $20.60 to $8.70, BUNDLE OF ENERGY $12.10 to $7.90
RACE 6 SHEK O HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1650m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:39.87 Standard Time: 1:40.10 Course/Class Record: 1:38.83
Winner: ROYAL RACER (AUS 5yo g Dreamscape – Ice Cold Crownie) used gate one to a nicety, trailed throughout, Keith Leung had him off the fence when he needed to get going and too smart for them late. An excellent win given he’d jumped from a 39 point Class 5 horse just 10 days earlier to a rating of 41 with a placing and he immediately puts them away in the higher grade. A long and unsuccessful season in 2019-2020 now behind him, 14 starts for two placings his best last term but he’s off with a hiss and a roar this season. Another winner for Caspar Fownes who has started the season in top gear, that’s win 10 from 41 runners and he’s on a mission.
Runner-up: FAITHFUL TRINITY is another to have kicked off the new racing season in style, switching stables to Chris So and in grand form, winning first up on September 9 at this track and distance, and backing it up with another very strong outing here. Chris So has him running on-pace and it seems to be suiting him. A strong tote plunge on the horse again this week as punters took what they won a fortnight earlier and put it straight back on.
Run Of The Race: MURRAY’S PARTNERS was off the bit when they got cracking across the side but his rally to finish off strongly into third was a lovely pick-up, he looked under pressure but kept on finding. Continues his march forward, two wins to end last season really got the ball rolling and the son of Towkay looks ready to salute again off the break. RIGHT HONOURABLE and ELECTRIC LIGHTNING two to follow, both coming with swift finishes from well back.
Disappointment: LUCKY MISSILE got handy from gate two but the favourite came under pressure when some real speed was injected into the race up the hill and he lost any momentum. Blinkers to be added.
Comparison: Under standard, a mixed tempo in which they took off some way from home when the speed came right out of the race.
Market Mover: FAITHFUL TRINITY $12.80 to $5.20
RACE 7 CHUNG HOM KOK HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:09.08 Standard Time: 1:09.65 Course/Class Record: 1:08.68
Winner: AMAZING KIWI (AUS 5yo g Helmet – Cara Bella) doubles up for rider Keith Leung who gave this gelding a gun run fifth the outer and always appeared to be travelling better than any other – surprisingly his odds did not reflect the performance going around at 36/1. The son of Helmet was not sighted fresh up a week earlier, though on the back up a much sharper horse for Douglas Whyte this week who is another capitalising early in the season with three wins and 10 placings. A good spell has no doubt aided the line of improvement in this horse, last raced in May and a trial win at the end of August pointed to some better form. Over the odds here. He won two in Australia as ‘Sergeant’ for Godolphin trainer James Cummings.
Runner-up: FLYING BONUS set the pace kicked hard off the corner and beat all bar the winner in a nice return to form for him. He was regarded very disappointing when leading and stopping to run eleventh on September 9 with trainer Dennis Yip quickly rectifying that to have the horse back on his toes tonight. He lurks in the 60’s on the ratings and will either win in Class 3 down in the weights or find his way back into Class 4 and be too good for them.
Run Of The Race: CALIFORNIADEEPSHOT and XPONENTIAL were runs to admire, both drew wide enough to not be able to get involved early, ended up a pair or two further back as a result. Powerful bids from both horses in a race dominated by the on-pace runners and plenty to like about their efforts. Even eighth-placed SEVEN HEAVENS ran well against the grain, back and wide no good to him. An improver next up.
Disappointment: CANTSTOPTHEFEELING was dour, he’s better than this but once he came off the bit at the midway point his race was over. Vetted, mucus in the trachea.
Comparison: Genuine speed in the race made for a good race and when they surged again coming off the back straight it really opened things up. A good way under standard here.
Market Mover: SEVEN HEAVENS $25.40 to $10.90, STANLEY PARK $12.10 to $6.70
RACE 8 BIG WAVE BAY HANDICAP HK $2,200,000
Class 2 – Rating 100-80 - Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:08.61 Standard Time: 1:09.40 Course/Class Record: 1:08.52
Winner: AMAZING STAR (NZ 6yo g Darci Brahma – Bright Abyss) improves a tough start to the season for talented apprentice Jerry Chau to win the last and give the 10lb claimer his second win of the year. Chau’s claim is gold in Hong Kong - on the right horse – and things have yet to really fall his way in the opening month of the season, But the tide may have turned here. He swept across from a wide gate to perhaps lead and soon found himself in the one-one and in a super position to strike. The rest was easy, sweeping up on the home turn and dominant from there. This horse won four of just six starts last season for Jinny Ting and though disappointing fresh up on September 6 at Sha Tin he returned to his favourite track tonight and quickly tuned the form around. Tough school for him, rating 100 into tonight’s race and up against the Class 1 sprinters.
Runner-up: GOLDEN DASH was quickly sharing the speed and he was good first up for the season after just five starts in totality last term. Sparingly raced, the son of Snitzel has a record saved for very handy horses 15 starts, four wins, five placings. In with 114lb here he will win his race very soon given his place in the handicap.
Run Of The Race: MASSIVE POCKET exceptional from last, clocked in easily the fastest 22.14 his final 400m off a race-best 22.44 (800m to 400m). Flying into fifth he made a statement for next start. Francis Lui has him peaking towards something very good.
Disappointment: At $2.20 CALIFORNIA RAD was alright in third but the winner sprinted away from him and there was a fair gap between the two on the night. To be fair to him it was his first run in Class 2 and it takes a top horse to make an immediate impact, especially running 1:08.61.
Comparison: Very slick, result came from the leading few as they really put the hammer down on a perfect surface.
Market Mover: AMAZING STAR $18.40 to $12.40
Suspended: K Teetan (CALIFORNIA RAD) two Hong Kong race days for careless riding.
Double for Chad Schofield, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club