The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, November 26th, 2020:
RACE 1 YAU KOM TAU HANDICAP HK $750,000
Class 5 – Rating 40-0 - Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:40.49 Standard Time: 1:40.30 Course/Class Record: 1:39.11
Winner: VIRTUS STAR (AUS 5yo g Sebring – Princess Natural) adds win three to his resume’ and incredibly his third win on end after going without success for 22 starts. This run of form courtesy of a low rating, he was winning off a rating of 21 points in October, at 26 points when again too good on November 8, and tonight to a rating of 31 points and another five pounds on his back, no issue. In essence his narrowest victory of the three but he would have been unlucky not to win. A lovely trip midfield and one-off but traffic problems at the home turn and a wall of horses around him. Alexis Badel skilfully through a reasonably narrow gap then into the clear to strike the front and win. Holding on late as the runner up dashed quickly but held enough in reserve. What a month or so it has been for the perennial maiden. And still likely shy of a Class 4 jump, he will top the handicap in Class 5 again next time.
Runner-up: GREEN GENERATION should have won, clear too late and smartly through the late gaps to run second and taking ground off the winner at each and every stride. Well back to the turn he was looking to run on strongly at the 200m and Joao Moreira nearly picked that path to success, a couple more strides and the judge would have been busy. Previously 12 starts without a place so a nice lift results wise, though the horse has hinted this season he would do something good, making ground each time.
Run Of The Race: GREEN GENERATION the standout, made up a lot of ground and he’s a winner at very short notice in Class 5 anywhere between 1600m and 2000m. He ran 24.63 (800m to 400m) and 23.69 (400m to winning post) in the best final two splits in the field. BRAVERY AND POWER did not get a lot of luck in the straight and was close behind them at the line.
Disappointment: Money about for WONDER BRAHMA, he was presented to make his run wide at the right time and though solid enough wide out he had his chance.
Comparison: Outside standard to start the night but a stop-start affair, they buttoned it right off in stages so no real surprise to see that reflected in the time.
Market Mover: VIRTUS STAR $2.70 to $2.10
RACE 2 TSING LUNG TAU HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:40.09 Standard Time: 1:40.10 Course/Class Record: 1:38.83
Winner: TOTAL POWER (AUS 5yo g Dundeel – Plumm) used gate one to full advantage, Zac Purton happy to be sitting three places back on the fence on the Hong Kong maiden and saving all his petrol for later. Swiftly off the fence around the sharp final home turn and he was quickly upon them, a margin too great for the late bid from favourite PLAY WISE who was a touch unlucky not to make this one closer. Nice to see this horse grab a win, he was twice victorious in his opening career starts in New South Wales for Newcastle trainer Kris Lees and did go on to place at listed level in the 2019 Scone Guineas behind Wild Planet. Not a lot in 10 starts here last season and back fresh up here after a good break since running second over this track and distance in July. Trainer David Hall had him nice and forward, a trial at Conghua before heading to Happy Valley when he trialled nicely without being hurried on November 13. Back to Class 3 he goes, a better horse better acclimatised now and able to handle that.
Runner-up: Favourite PLAY WISE was slow out and lost a couple of positions ending up four deep on the fence and following the winner all the way. He angled out, held up for a couple of strides trying to find a clear go and that did not help his cause, though the winner had picked a good margin up and was unlikely to be headed. That is four consecutive second placings in a row for this horse this season. A wonderful little eftpos machine he is for connections, all placings run over the 1650m at Happy Valley, also the track and distance when he was winning in July 2019, and January 2020. He will remain in Class 4 and though near the top of the handicap his turn must come.
Run Of The Race: A race dominated from the front half and nothing too notable, however the sectional times tell us VICTORIOUS SEEKER (22.57) was the equal to PLAY WISE (22.56) over that final 400m split and only ran eighth so a horse worth watching next time.
Disappointment: NUNCHUKS was ridden a lot further forward tonight and that was slightly puzzling given he drew wide and his best form has come from sitting off them and charging late. Rainer Caspar Fownes and rider Joao Moreira decided there was a lack of speed in the race and opted to ride him forward. Soon up outside the leader, he did not have the answer when the pressure went on over the final 400m, battling on into fourth. Tactics likely to change next time.
Comparison: Bang on the standard and another one where they pulled up to a walk early in the race then got cracking later. Times so far not indicative of track conditions, both purely tempo based.
Market Mover: UNIVERSAL GO GO $18.30 to $10.00
Fined: Alexis Badel (CHARIZARD) $15,000 for breach of Rule 100 (2).
RACE 3 TAI LAM HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.84 Standard Time: 1:09.90 Course/Class Record: 1:08.92
Winner: REWARDING TOGETHER (AUS 4yo g Pierro – Bella Rossie) was heavily backed to win the race and thanks to Joao for a superb ride he got the job done. Onto the speed from the outset and third outer he soon pounced on the leaders at the corner and ran clear enough to win well, though some thundering hooves were right behind at the finish and many of the opposition with excuses. Frankie Lor has a nice horse on his hands here, a $A180,000 yearling and a trial winner for Adam Duggan before Lor imported him, the son of Pierro shows good promise, placed last term in two of three starts and spelled after his worst one when ninth at Sha Tin in mid-July. He resumed with a strong placing at Sha Tin on November 1 behind a very smart horse in Soaring Tower, so that form was always going to stack up. The most impressive maiden winners this season number two at the top of the list – Courier Wonder and Soaring Tower. His Happy Valley debut tonight and he handled it with aplomb.
Runner-up: A SMILE LIKE YOURS was fantastic on debut, darted home through the middle of the pack after being back of midfield on the rail and giving the winner several lengths head-start. He is a Kiwi-bred a 4yo by Per Incanto, diminutive but quick, placed in three New Zealand trials before making his way to Hong Kong. Three trials leading into this at Sha Tin and he showed the necessary ability in two of the three, perhaps a little dour in his most recent one so the $77.00 on offer tonight was perhaps an indication of that. He will run at $7.00 next time.
Run Of The Race: Several to follow out of the race. A SMILE LIKE YOURS a must. Very unlucky and flying home was WOOD ON FIRE and in very tight quarters late probably should have bailed out earlier and taken his medicine but he was charging. And we mark down BRANDING POWER an Aussie import by Kermadec, a $A520,000 yearling so not inexpensive but what he showed here he may well earn that back quite quickly. Awkwardly spotted well back on the fence he could not find enough racing room until the race was all over and Chad Schofield had a lapful left at the line. SUNDAY BETTING saw an amount of support at long odds, got well back, no threat in the straight but not too far away.
Disappointment: LORIZ was heavily backed, across to lead from a wider gate and maybe worked 100 metres more than he wanted to get there. But quickly beaten after the turn and disappointing.
Comparison: Just under standard and no great tempo over the short trip. Thought we might see something a little sharper. Thus, they finished in a big bunch.
Market Mover: LORIZ $15.90 to $7.50, MOMENTUM GALAXY $22.90 to $12.90
Suspended & Fined: Chad Schofield (A SMILE LIKE YOURS) $45,000- and two-days Dec 16 to Dec 21 for careless riding at the 1050m mark.
RACE 4 TAI LAM HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.69 Standard Time: 1:09.90 Course/Class Record: 1:08.92
Winner: AMBITIOUS HEART (AUS 7yo g Captain Sonador – Pyramisa’s Lass) gets reward for good attendance, the seven-year-old into his fourth run back this season for David Ferraris and he’d been okay in each of the first three runs without flattering. Joao Moreira jumps aboard tonight and as is often the case the tide turns, tracking them into the race from back of midfield on the fence he swept into it quickly from a run in the middle and proved too strong. Last successful November 14, 2018 so two years since he’s saluted, and another 20 starts later before he manages to find his way back to the winners’ circle. Start 47 tonight, he made his debut in June 2016, so he is a real part of the furniture in the Ferraris stable.
Runner-up: JAZZ STEED looked all over the winner at the 200m mark, he zipped up wide and looked as though he would run away and win easily until the former picked his path in the middle and dashed away. This guy rarely runs a poor race, he does not tend to win often, either, but a genuine horse particularly around the Class 4 grade. He may well have to step into Class 3 with a couple of points for his placing.
Run Of The Race: VICTORIA GENERAL was incredible. Disinterested might be a good word to use as far of his first half of the race was concerned, a clear last and a long way off them with Blake Shinn seemingly having a difficult ride. But the further they went the better the debutant ran, charging home late into third in an amazing turnaround in fortune – he looked as though he would be beaten a long way at the 800-metre point. A $NZ45,000 yearling he was a Ready To Run horse but did not meet his reserve. From five trials in New Zealand he won three and placed second in two. Obviously talented, and when David Hall gets things in order he will win races. SKY CHAMPION a definite to follow, too. Well back and a long way off them heading towards the home turn and his late work into fifth, and a shade unlucky, was very good. Another by this wonderful producer Per Incanto, he has a horse for every day.
Disappointment: NOBLE BIRTH was smashed in betting and not good enough on the night. Had a good trip, eased three-deep to make his run before the turn and was given his chance but soon floundering at the 200m mark. CANTSTOPTHEFEELING was also disappointing, on pace and had his chance.
Comparison: A better tempo, solid from barrier rise and they ran well under standard.
Market Mover: NOBLE BIRTH $29.20 to $8.10
RACE 5 KAP SHUI MUN HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.23 Standard Time: 1:09.65 Course/Class Record: 1:08.68
Winner: GRATEFUL HEART (AUS 4yo g Written Tycoon – Show Affection) just too swift for them, straight to the lead from a low draw in five and never really in doubt. Now on his way, two wins in a row after finding his feet last season when never close to the mark in four starts are making his way to Hong Kong as the winner of two from just three starts under the tutelage of leading Sydney trainers Peter and Paul Snowden. Hong Kong trainer Danny Shum has found the key to him now and it looks a positive road ahead for the son of Written Tycoon. He will stay under the 80-point line and remain in Class 3 at least next start, the obvious test now is to carry some weight having won with 118lb and 123lb on his back. Shum will now likely look to another 1200m race at Happy Valley – it is a winning formula.
Runner-up: LOVING A BOOM showed some real dash tonight, got through the line strongly from midfield with a withering sprint, his best of the season to date. He has won one race from 23 starts in Hong Kong this horse and he is better than that. Broke his Hong Kong maiden in Class 3 in May 2019, was winless last season in 10 starts and still trying to find his way back to the winners list after another four this term. He was marked on 71-points when he arrived from Ireland having won once from five starts, and he’s never been close to that mark again, a rise to 86 points last term, sat on 78 here so a Class drop has never been an option.
Run Of The Race: LOVING A BOOM was outstanding, a run suggesting he can find winning form again very soon. SEVEN HEAVENS also sharp from well back in the field. He has been racing without any luck at all and despite not cracking a top three here it was a good sign he is due to do something worthwhile.
Disappointment: GOOD VIEW CLARICO was plain for him. Usually fighting it out to the bitter end he was once of the first beaten tonight and lacked the dash expected of him after getting a good run in transit. Vetted, no findings.
Comparison: Lovely to see a race run at such genuine tempo, there had been a number of stop-start affairs tonight, not this one, and put this down to a race well managed in front by Zac Purton.
Market Mover: GOOD VIEW CLARICO $8.00 to $4.40
RACE 6 TSING LUNG TAU HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:39.63 Standard Time: 1:40.10 Course/Class Record: 1:38.83
Winner: ROYAL RACER (AUS 5yo g Dreamscape – Ice Cold Crownie) has been quite steady this season, his fifth start here and now twice successful and both at 1650m at Happy Valley in Class 4. And he can cash in now after a real drought last season, ran 14 times and never won, dropped a dozen rating points and found himself in a good spot at the weights in this class. He won off a rating of 41 points in September and back here to push repeat with 47 points tonight. On pace not the place to be in this one, the leading few compounding as this horse came from well back and wide with cover to sweep up and put them away in a couple of strides after turning for home. A very impressive victory. Win four from start 27 and a horse doing his bit for the premiership leaders Caspar Fownes and Joao Moreira.
Runner-up: REGENCY MASTER went as good as you could possibly ask for, trapped wide in midfield the entire race and when he looked out on his feet at the 200m he rallied again to take second money and fend off a few coming at him. Outstanding effort from a very genuine racehorse, not out of the first three in last six starts and twice a winner in that time for the Danny Shum stable. The Savabeel gelding was sold for $500,000 as a two-year-old.
Run Of The Race: REGENCY MASTER gets all the points for being so determined in his effort. KING DRAGON put his hand up late in the race, too. Settling back last he had some work ahead of him inside the final 600m and ran it out as you would hope, still a 14-start maiden in Hong Kong but that victory must come.
Disappointment: Nothing obvious here. ALLOY STAR was deemed unacceptable by stewards and will have to trial. He was vetted but no obvious findings.
Comparison: Times have warmed up as the night progresses. A good gallop here, well under standard.
Market Mover: ROYAL RACER $4.20 to $2.70, THUNDER STOMP $14.40 to $10.40
RACE 7 CHAI WAN KOK HANDICAP HK $2,200,000
Class 2 – Rating 100-80 - Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1000m – Track Good
Time: 0:56.54 Standard Time: 0:56.85 Course/Class Record: 0:56.25
Winner: EXPLOSIVE WITNESS (AUS 6yo g Star Witness – Rocket Baby) grabs his third successive win and shows his brilliance again, but the ride was something else. Alexis Badel somehow found himself at the rail from gate 11 as he scooted across to find some cover, eased his way into the contest in a wee gap behind the leading division then drew wide at the corner. It was matter of whether they could pick up a rampaging HONG KONG WIN who never left the fence in trailing and going for home, the brilliant finishing burst from this horse again to the fore as he picked up the latter in the final strides. Amazing to think it took him 10 starts to win in Hong Kong, the speedster sold after just the one start in Australia as a Moonee Valley maiden winner in 2017. After debuting in HK in January 2019, it took him until July 2020 to win, another example of the difficulties some find in fully acclimatising. Caspar Fownes has him absolutely flying now, and there is more to come yet.
Runner-up: HONG KONG WIN had his chance to beat the winner, in fact he probably should have. But you must consider he carried the 132lb and burned along on some extremely quick early sectionals to maintain a handy spot, so overall it is awfully hard to knock him. He won four of 10 starts last season in a purple patch, rose from 56 points to 92 points in that stretch so winning is of course going to come harder for him now. Determination will get him back there again any time soon.
Run Of The Race: EXPLOSIVE WITNESS had to be good. He is the king tonight. Must mention MEGA HEART, JOYFUL UNION, and CALIFORNIA CONCORD, each who steamed home from well back, they were off the bit and chasing early as the leaders went quickly. Strong work from this trio and excellent runs moving forward in their preparations.
Disappointment: CLASSIC UNICORN burned in some speedy sectionals to lead and was found wanting when they cornered for home. Not the best one from the $2.20 favourite.
Comparison: They dash three-tenths under standard which is great work tonight, an extremely fast opening half to this race and that left the front-runners needing air.
Market Mover: JOYFUL UNION $19.30 to $13.00
RACE 8 SHAM TSENG HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:39.62 Standard Time: 1:39.80 Course/Class Record: 1:38.61
Winner: HOLY HEART (IRE 5yo g Holy Roman Emperor – Heart Of Ice) remains unbeaten this season as another horse unable to win in 10 starts last season is able to find his best form and kick right into gear after a good spell. He bowed out in April and went to the paddock, did not return until November 8 when he won first up at Happy Valley, backing that up here at the same track and distance. Twice a winner at Kempton on the poly track in the UK, he was extensively tried on the all-weather track at Sha Tin last season, never able to win but he did place on four occasions. Despite being in grand form on the turf, trainer Francs Lui may be tempted to find a good race for him on the dirt again now he has hit his peak. Racing as well as he is, anywhere will be good. A nice ride from Zac Purton who found some momentum tonight. He has the horse in a comfortable rhythm on the fence tracking the front few, peeled out as he like don the turn and whipped through the middle to win easily.
Runner-up: ANGEL OF MY EYES showed a great turn of foot over the concluding stages in his first race at Happy Valley, a very encouraging performance from this talented young horse who has a strong Sha Tin record and now tested, and passed, at the Valley. He was back second from last, still back there at the turn and he managed to follow the winner through a couple of gaps in the straight to fire into second at the line. Also impressive his step from 1400m to 1650m, never had he been beyond the 1400m before this event. Some earning to come from him this season, particularly while he sits in Class 3.
Run Of The Race: ANGEL OF MY EYES, and EASY GO EASY WIN who made a quick dash at the half mile to get handy, also did a big job from well back, were the standouts, though include FLYING SWORD in that group, he finished sixth but making up good ground closer to the rail from last in clocking the race-best 23.40 from the 400m to home.
Disappointment: Favourite THE ROCK got back from wide and never really emerged. Joao had a great night with three wins but could not get the punters elect home this time.
Comparison: Under standard, could have been a bit quicker, too, but they buttoned it off through the middle
Market Mover: ANGEL OF MY EYES $14.80 to $8.80
Casper Fownes - 500 Happy Valley winners, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club