The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, February 24th, 2021:
RACE 1 YUK SAU HANDICAP HK $750,000
Class 5 – Rating 40-0 – Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1800m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:50.38 Standard Time: 1:50.30 Course/Class Record: 1:48.69
Winner: WONDER WIN (AUS 5yo g Pierro – Nataya Rose) was successful at the track and distance three starts back off a lowly rating of 28-points and we suggested he would win again in the grade. Not poor in two since he finds that mojo gain tonight, Derek Leung in rare form right form positioning him fourth the outer and he could not have wished for a better trip, produced before the turn to make his mark and from that point the one they had to chase down. He has been a tough horse to catch, 15 starts for two win now, but never close to the minors when beaten. Unraced in Australia after being a popular yearling, selling for $A400,000 at the 2017 Magic Millions, he was then on sold for $HK 5.2 million at the 2019 International Sale.
Runner-up: A strong bid from GOOD DAYS and he looked rather likely to steam on by at the 100m mark but came up short with the 133lb as the winner found a little more in the locker. He ran on particularly well over 2200m on February 3 and was well found in the market with Moreira up. Last time he won was June 2019, so we are talking well overdue now.
Run Of The Race: JOY N FUN LEGEND has given them a big start, a clear last at the 700m and strong over his final three furlongs to dash into fourth, 15 starts without running a placing now but this quite eye-catching. Not one to make a good case for next time around given his form but this was his career best to date. FORTUNE PATROL also made up plenty of leeway from a mile back to finish into third, his second top three from eight runs this season.
Disappointment: SHINEALOT had a great trip on the leaders heels and did not finish it off, a disappointing performance from the 4/1 chance after a good ride from Zac Purton.
Comparison: Just outside of standard, a steady tempo. Track looks in great order.
Market Mover: RIGHTEOUS WIN $17.70 to $10.00
RACE 2 YIK YAM HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 – Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1650m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:40.53 Standard Time: 1:40.10 Course/Class Record: 1:38.83
Winner: RIGHT HONOURABLE (IRE 7yo g Famous Name – Agnetha) had plenty of work to do at the 600m and it looked a little dicey for the well backed commodity. But the one person not panicking was rider Matthew Chadwick who zipped hi, up four-wide at the 400m and got the response he was looking for, the Irish bred digging into his work to come very wide on the corner and sustain a beautiful sprint in centre-track. The hint was there when he dashed home from well back at the same course and distance on February 10 and punters were on board with that, a generous $7.60 snapped up to close off at $4.40. Win four from start 41 and an overdue return to his best, last successful in October 2019 for trainer Richard Gibson. He won a 1400m maiden in Ireland in 2016 with Pat Smullen on board.
Runner-up: THUNDER STOMP was weighted to give them a real fright and that he did, setting a mixed tempo in front then he quickly booted away just before the point of the turn to look home and dry before the former came with that undeniable burst. Start 72 for the career and ninth of the season tonight, his first showing of form for some time, in fact last in the top three when he won in February 2020 off a rating of 60-points. In with 43 here. All things being equal he must win again soon off such a low mark.
Run Of The Race: RIGHT HONOURABLE was a minute ahead of them here, gave them a big start and a big beating.
Disappointment: Both SUPERBELLA and KING DRAGON were looking for runs when others were in the clear and on the accelerator, this pair were well supported runners who lacked all the luck when needed, both running on.
Comparison: A very mixed tempo, they walked it early, got going again the eased off before the final sprint. That showed in a time that could have been much sharper.
Market Mover: RIGHT HONOURABLE $7.60 to $4.40
Fined & Suspended: Tony Piccone (KIRAM) $12,500 and two days for careless riding near the 350m mark.
RACE 3 SHAN KWONG HANDICAP HK $3,000,000
Class 1 – Rating 110-85 – Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1650m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:38.94 Standard Time: 1:39.40 Course/Class Record: 1:38.70
Winner: SOLAR WAI WAI (AUS 5yo g Snitzel – Cape Princess) upsets the favoured runners in tonight’s feature event where they ran for $3 million, this fellow so determined you would have to believe he knew it was the night to step up the game and show his best. He won three last season, all at 1650m on this track so a good form pointer in that regard, but he has struggled a little this season after a second placing to resume in October. The first beaten it seemed, after sitting outside the leader here, he drifted right off the pace at the 400m mark and his fight back to win just something you rarely see. He had to throw his neck out again at the line to fend off a slick burst from the runner-up. A grand performer for the Frankie Lor stable, now more than $HK 8 million in stakes from 23 starts – a wonderful record. In form rider Matthew Poon won three here last Wednesday night and adds a lovely race to that tally.
Runner-up: FAST MOST FURIOUS hit sixth gear at the 100m mark and flew widest on the track, just failing as the former refused to yield the margin he had just regained. Back-to-back placings from the five-time Hong Kong winner, he has been off the winners list since July but awfully close to breaking through for a sixth success.
Run Of The Race: SOLAR WAI WAI was superb, very rarely you see the first beaten before the turn regather and win the race. Toughness personified.
Disappointment: STAR SHINE was given a beautiful run by Vincent Ho but the race favourite could not reproduce his effort when he placed behind Beauty Smile in the Chinese New Year Cup last start at Sha Tin.
Comparison: Rather sharp, 0.24 outside of the class record after MAGNIFICENT got a little racy in front and ran them along.
Market Mover: SOLAR WAI WAI $13.00 to $9.20
RACE 4 KING KWONG HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 – Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1000m – Track Good TF
Time: 0:56.87 Standard Time: 0:56.85 Course/Class Record: 0:56.11
Winner: FLYING GENIUS (AUS 4yo g All Too Hard – Sacha Royale) is flying, and what a run to come out on top after having to sit three-wide on the pace from gate 9, the decision to go forward not working out that well until the end result was found. He had chased a very smart sprinter home in Kurpany last time around from gate one and after missing the kick there he regathered strongly into second. Punters jumped on board; having proven he can carry weight of late the 132lb was not considered a problem. Win four from 20 starts for Tony Cruz, each of them at 1000m, all at Happy Valley. To Class 2 he now marches for the first time in his career.
Runner-up: NORDIC WELLSTAR had one start in Australia for one win over 975m at Swan Hill in Victoria in March 2020 and found himself in Hong Kong with Douglas Whyte. Three unsuccessful runs at Happy Valley over 1000m when he did not inspire punters, who had him going around at $25 here but significantly shorter than he was in that opening trio of races. He found something much better, a strong winning trial in mid-January finally coming to the fore. Spirited finish from some way back in almost making it wide in the final stride. Looks well on the rise on this performance. Outstanding sectionals, 21.26 and 22.09 the last two splits were clearly best in the race.
Run Of The Race: Dead-heat first and second, two different types of run but both excellent and the nose splitting them was a very fair assessment, an actual dead-heat would have been perfect.
Disappointment: SAUL’S SPECIAL jumped on speed and got a decent trip with cover but did not unleash as expected, battling on soundly into fourth without threat.
Comparison: Right on the standard, a three-way battle for the lead but without any raw pace.
Market Mover: JAZZ STEED $4.60 to $2.90
RACE 5 VILLAGE 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: HARMONY FIRE (AUS 3yo g Brazen Beau – Ms Mazetti) won two trials in Australia last year and looked a promising type, the son of former Newmarket Handicap and Coolmore Stud Stakes winner Brazen Beau also showing some promise without being hurried in his local trials since arriving to team up with Douglas Whyte. A rather tidy fourth on debut in late January improved him second up, sharp here despite being trapped three-wide without cover from gate 11, though he still had plenty to give coming to the turn and looked ominous under Vincent Ho. He booted away like a horse that will win more races and get more ground, the 1000m will not be his limit despite his obvious natural speed.
Runner-up: CANTSTOPTHEFEELING gained a nice run sixth the outer and one-off a spot underneath the winner, he lost his tail when the latter took off, but he was resolute in the chase once around the bend, a much-improved effort. Yet to win in 16 starts in Hong Kong after running second in the Group 2 Auckland Guineas in New Zealand.
Run Of The Race: Exemplary from the winner, three-deep and quite arrogant in kicking away from them. At 33/1 INFINITE POWER was a bit unlucky onto heels for several strides in the straight looking for room and he should have much closer. Five starts without a cheque for him but that will soon change.
Disappointment: FORTUNE CARRIER again well backed, again disappointing, straight up to the leader’s girth and given every chance but he could not match the good ride, fading out. Cannot match his trial form on race day as yet. Vetted, no findings. Will have to barrier trial.
Comparison: Another right on the standard. No real pressure up front and it lacked any spark for a 1000m sprint.
Market Mover: FORTUNE CARRIER $5.60 to $3.00
RACE 6 BLUE POOL HANDICAP HK $3,000,000
Class 1 – Rating 110-85 – Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:08.84 Standard Time: 1:09.20 Course/Class Record: 1:08.70
Winner: SKY FIELD (AUS 4yo g Deep Field – Laravissante) breaks a three-race losing streak which was surprising given the raw ability he had shown at the back end of last season, dovetailing into the 2020-2021 term. The quick rise to Class 2 has blunted his brilliance for a while, however he was never far away when beaten into third, and twice sixth. Caspar Fownes finds the right race, a $3 million race, and the perfect opportunity to send him back to Happy Valley after just the one run here in the past when he debuted in a Class 4 in January 2020, finishing fourth. In eight starts a 52-point debutant into a 91-rater tonight so the rise had been a steep one. Alexis Badel gets his first ride on the chestnut and makes the most of it cuddling him up sixth then out into the clear at the corner to get wide and charge home. These good horses are never out of form for too long. Heavily backed late.
Runner-up: STRONGER trailed the lead and got the desired run came with the rails run and looked a big chance until SKY FIELD arrived wide. Nice to see him bounce back to form after a very luckless run down the chute at Sha Tin the start before.
Run Of The Race: SKY FIELD had to be at his best to zip across heels and run them down wide, a lovely bounce back obviously assisted by the 118 pounds. He got a 12lb pull from the runner up.
Disappointment: Neither GRATEFUL HEART nor BEAUTY APPLAUSE really looked the winner, the warmly supported runners tidy without putting their best one on the table.
Comparison: Just the 0.14 outside of record speed and good to see the Class 1 sprinters open up and run time, a big run on the C+3 to clock this.
Market Mover: SKY FIELD $5.60 to $3.00
RACE 7 WANG TAK HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 – Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:09.95 Standard Time: 1:09.90 Course/Class Record: 1:08.92
Winner: DAILY BEAUTY (AUS 5yo g All American – Mixed Emotions) soon lands in a nice spot fifth the outer, gets a wee shuffle up before the turn as the leader slipped clear. So, he had to be good to reel in the margin late in the piece and win again for the Fownes-Moreira combination, they had combined with this horse to win a fortnight earlier on this track. Interesting to note his improved form dropping back in trip to 1200m from the 1650m. And he has come up with gate one in each of his last two starts which is always a big help, especially around Happy Valley.
Runner-up: HERO STAR set a lovely stern tempo and kicked away on them before the turn to look all over the winner. He was sharp tonight, had led just once in his career from 14 previous starts so a bit of a surprise to see him in front and calling all the shots from a wide draw. Game attempt as he tried to get punters through, backed $32 into $17.
Run Of The Race: SMART HUNTER and WON BALL came from the last two positions in the race to fly home into fourth and fifth respectively, mark them down for next time. Neither has won a race in Hong Kong yet.
Disappointment: HAPPY PROFIT was trapped wide on speed early and he did not fire a shot after, drifting out to run last. Vetted, substantial mucus in the trachea.
Comparison: Right on the standard which broken down is a decent run on the C+3 track.
Market Mover: HERO STAR $32.90 to $17.00
RACE 8 SING WOO HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 85-60 – Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:09.07 Standard Time: 1:09.65 Course/Class Record: 1:08.68
Winner: RACING FIGHTER (NZ 6yo g Mastercraftsman – Comme Te Veux) grabs his second win for the season in coming off a perfect trail under Zac Purton to win going away, his sixth winning run of the 37-start career. A decent galloper he has been for Dennis Yip, he was winless in five NZ starts but placed in Group 2 company before his arrival in early 2018. A pair of 1200m wins this term, one at Sha Tin in November followed by four misses before tonight’s bounce back to best form. Each of his six win have come at 1200m so that is certainly his pet trip, and he loves teaming up with Zac Purton, among numerous riders to have been aboard on race day the only rider to have won on him is the Aussie genius.
Runner-up: HANDSOME BO was found in front which was a bit of a surprise given his more recent racing patterns which saw him racing fourth to beyond midfield. Booted out from a wide gate he took command tonight and he gave a good kick when under fire from the winner. He is up 12 rating points in five starts this season after two wins in December and January and he pays for that on the weight scale with 132lb on his back here.
Run Of The Race: RACING FIGHTER was dominant, nothing way beating him tonight the way he ran through the line.
Disappointment: Still a fine effort, but favourite KURPANY was a stride slow and he got too far back in a race dominated from the front end. Making good ground on the fence he was brave in running third, but it just never looked like his night.
Comparison: Very slick, a half-second under standard is superb on this track and HINCHINLOVE loses no friends after sharing the pace and fighting back well under stress late.
Market Mover: HINCHINLOVE $9.40 to $5.80
RACE 9 TSUI MAN HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 85-60 – Turf ‘C + 3’ Course – Distance 1650m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:39.16 Standard Time: 1:39.80 Course/Class Record: 1:38.61
Winner: GREEN LUCK (AUS 6yo g Street Cry – Damar Lady) got the shuffle at the wrong time and it took a no panic ride from Joao Moreira to quietly extricate himself from a tight spot on the fence to get out into clear air as the rounded the home turn. A couple of late lead changes altered things somewhat, after being in a sweet spot fourth the fence Moreira found himself that couple of places further back than anticipated nearing the business end. What he did have was plenty of horse left and so that proved, the Caspar Fownes trained gelding too powerful in a nice return to form, slipping back from Class 1 and Class 2 in his previous two outings back to the top of the handicap in Class 3. He is not regarded a high-end type, so Class 3 is really his line in the sand. Good to see him take the opportunity when it presented itself. Fownes trains three on the night, not an unfamiliar sight.
Runner-up: TSAR was last, swept up to get handy quickly inside the 800m point and gallant in maintaining that gallop right to the wire. At 100/1 from barrier 12 he was not expected to deliver such a positive performance. He ran last in his Hong Kong debut in January after winning three from five in Great Britain for leading trainer John Gosden, all at 1600m. A pleasing result for trainer Me Tsui to turn things around.
Run Of The Race: TSAR was outstanding, his effort coming from last and up wide mid-race to challenge was clearly a race-best performance. INCANTO PREPARED was his usual very honest self in hitting the line well wide out to run third from beyond midfield. So consistent.
Disappointment: HIGH REV carried plenty of support but could not make an impression after getting back from a low draw, he just never showed up though clear space also not going his way.
Comparison: Very quick again, the times got better as the night went on and this one more than six-tenths under the standard run at great speed.
Market Mover: BEAUTY SPIRIT $40.00 to $10.00
Grateful Heart, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club