The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, December 1st, 2021
Race 1 – Frigatebird Handicap, HK $1,40,000
Class 4 – Turf – Distance 2200m – Track Good
Time: 2:18.86 Standard Time: 2:17.05 Course/Class record: 2:15.25 Donc Je Suis
Winner: AWE (GB 5yo g Bated Breath – On Her Way) got away well from barrier two, with Zac Purton quickly crossing to the rail to sit behind the leading horse. He raced a touch keen in the early stages of the race as the pace came right out of the race, fighting Purton all the way down the home straight on the first occasion. He began to travel better once the pace came back into the race down the back straight and was absolutely bolting on the back of the leaders. Purton had a comfortable hold on the gelding as the rest of the field came under pressure on the turn, shooting for a gap on the inside as they turned into the straight. He made light work of the leader, getting in front with 200m left to run and pulling away for a comfortable 2-1/4 length victory, eased down over the final 50m.
Runner-Up: GO BALLISTIC jumped well and went straight to the lead from the inside draw. Joao Moreira quickly took the pace out of the race as they crawled through the first half of the event. He was left alone out in front with nobody applying pressure, allowing Moreira to have it all his own way out in front. Moreira upped to paced down the back straight with around 800m left to run in an attempt to leave his opponents flat-footed. He came under pressure on the turn, coming off the rail as they straightened, allowing the eventual winner to slide up the inside of him. He was no match for the winner but stuck on well to finish a length-and-a-half clear of third.
Run Of The Race: It wasn’t one of the most exciting races you’ll ever see, but AWE won this with extreme ease. He got the perfect run of the race, and despite over racing for the first half of the event, he still had enough gas to sprint when asked and put his rivals away with ease.
Disappointment: VICTORIOUS SEEKER jumped on the third line of betting and was travelling well in the one-out-one-back position. Luke Ferraris was the first jockey to mount a challenge on the leaders, pulling out three-wide to stake his claim on the race with 600m left to run. He was quickly beaten off though, and he continued to weaken down the straight to finish 6 lengths off the winner in sixth position. A veterinary examination post-race did not reveal any abnormality.
Comparison: Well outside standard time.
Market Mover: AWE was backed into favouritism.
Race 2 – Mesia Handicap, HK $780,000
Class 5 – Turf – Distance 1000m – Track Good
Time: 57.65 Standard Time: 57.20 Course/Class record: 56.52 Shanghai Power
Winner: UNIVERSAL CROWN (AUS 5yo g Hallowed Crown – Only She Can) was a touch slow away from the inside but rallied well under Alfred Chan to boot up along the rail and settle on the leaders back in fourth position. He travelled well around the turn as many of his rivals came off the bit with 400m left to run, but Chan stuck to the leader’s back before peeling to his outside as they entered the straight. He took the lead with around 200m remaining and didn’t look back, pulling away down the straight for an impressive 2-1/4 length win.
Runner-Up: SHANGHAI POWER was fast into stride and was able to take the lead and cross to the rail easily under Vincent Ho. He kept them running down the back straight and the gelding seemed to be doing it with plenty in hand as many of his rivals came off the bit with 400m left to run. He led by a length as they straightened, but he was quickly passed by the winner. He stuck on well though to finish second, getting the nod in a photo finish.
Run Of The Race: It’s hard to go past the impressive win of UNIVERSAL CROWN. After missing the start, he mustered good pace to get himself into a fantastic position, and Alfred Chan summed the race up beautifully. He quickened well when placed under pressure and he shot away for an eye-catching win.
Disappointment: VIVA CHEF jumped on terms but settled toward the rear of the field. He travelled well around the turn but didn’t respond to the urgings of Matthew Poon as they straightened. He finished 5-3/4 lengths away in 10th position, with a veterinary examination not finding any abnormalities.
Comparison: Outside standard.
Market Mover: Money was flying everywhere, with WINNING STRIKES $32 into $5.40, UNIVERSAL CROWN was heavily backed into $5.40 and DRAGON PRIDE also had plenty of money come for him at double figure odds.
Race 3 – Albatross Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:10.80 Standard Time: 1:09.80 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends
Winner: SMART IDEA (NZ 3yo g Swiss Ace – Eleanor Coup) got away well but was caught wide and without cover in the early stages from barrier six, before Harry Bentley was able to get cover three-wide early in the back straight. He travelled well through the middle of the race and got a lovely tow into the race on the back of the favourite, popping out four-wide as they turned into the straight. He responded well to the urgings of Bentley, ranging up to the leaders with 200m to run, before taking the lead and drawing away in the concluding stages to win by half a length.
Runner-Up: MOON PEAKS was quickly into stride and found a great position on the pace early on, sitting on the outside of the leader. He was a touch keen as they entered the back straight, but Alex Lai was able to get the gelding to come back underneath him and travelling well as they began to make the turn. Lai started to apply the pressure with 400m to go and was almost at 100% as they turned. It took the gelding a while to get through his gears, but he was able to get his head in front and hold on in a photo finish to claim second position.
Run Of The Race: SMART IDEA didn’t have the most economical run in transit, being caught four-wide in the early going before being able to get in the three-wide trail, but he showed a great dash in the straight despite the tough run. He quickened well down the outside to win in good fashion.
Disappointment: INNO LEGEND pushed forward after jumping well from barrier 8 but was left out three-wide and without cover under Joao Moreira. He remained in that position throughout the race, and tired shortly after straightening to fall back through the field, finishing 8 lengths off the lead in ninth position.
Comparison: A second outside standard time.
Market Mover: MASTER AQUA and SAVVY DELIGHT had supporters, as did AHEAD A HEAD at long odds.
Race 4 – Nightjar Handicap, HK $780,000
Class 5 – Turf – Distance 1800m – Track Good
Time: 1:51.60 Standard Time: 1:49.75 Course/Class record: 1:48.33 Success Allstars
Winner: SUPER HONG KONG (AUS 4yo g Kermadec – Indiscretions) was bumped shortly after the start, with Joao Moreira crossing across heels to settle toward the rear of the field. The pace was only fair through the first half of the race, with Moreira finding himself 8.5 lengths off the lead as they passed the 800m point. As the field began to stack up with 700m to run, Moreira took off three-wide, keeping his momentum up before starting to apply the pressure with 450m remaining. It was messy early in the straight, with the four-year-old bumping runners when looking for clear air, but Moreira got what he needed with 200m to go, and the gelding let down beautifully. He showed good dash in the straight, taking the lead with 50m to go and pulled away in the dying stages to win easily by 1-1/4 lengths.
Runner-Up: SUCCESS ALLSTARS broke well from his inside barrier with Matthew Chadwick able to find a great position around midfield, sitting one off the rail. He settled well under Chadwick but was somewhat disadvantaged when the pace came out of the race. He was shuffled back in the running line and came under pressure shortly afterward to build his momentum once again. He was then hampered again when looking to improve on the turn, being checked for a run at the 400m point. Chadwick was forced to come out wide on the track, but the gelding showed a great sprint in the straight, storming down the centre of the course to run into second position.
Run Of The Race: It just wasn’t meant to be for SUCCESS ALLSTARS, but he turned in an impressive performance in the process. He didn’t have the greatest of luck in the second half of proceedings, but he showed a great dash in the straight to run into second position. Who knows what could’ve happened with better luck, but I’m keen to follow this gelding at his next outing.
Disappointment: THIS IS CHARISMA wasn’t disappointing so to speak, as he finished in fifth position only beaten 3-1/4, but more was expected out of him at his $3.50 quote. He was slightly held up for a run as they straightened, and he didn’t have the clearest of runs in the straight, but the gap was there for him to burst through, he just didn’t have the pace to challenge for the win.
Comparison: Way outside standard.
Market Mover: INCREDIBLE had his fans.
Race 5 – The Hong Kong Gold Club Centenary Cup (Handicap), HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:10.77 Standard Time: 1:09.80 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends
Winner: A SMILE LIKE YOURS (NZ 5yo g Per Incanto – Diamond Start) got away well from barrier seven and Joao Moreira eased out of the speed battle, crossing across heels to sit just off the pace and one off the rail. Moreira stayed away from the rail as they turned into the back straight, sitting slightly wide but did have cover as he travelled well through the middle stages. Moreira began to make a move three-wide with 550m left to run, shooting around the field without burning up too much energy to join the leaders as they turned into the straight. He quickly shot to the lead with 225m left to run and broke away from the main body of the field. He was left a sitting duck out in front but had built a big enough gap to get the win by a neck, holding off the late challenger.
Runner-Up: PRANCE DRAGON was a touch slow away from his wide draw and was eased back behind runners before crossing to the rail to settle near the back of the field as they turned into the back straight. He was travelling well under Vincent Ho, who was able to continue to improve the gelding’s position along the back straight by sticking to the inside. He popped off the rail at the 400m point and got himself into the clear as they straightened for the finish line. He put in a great sprint in the straight, chasing hard and responding to the riding of Ho, but he was unable to peg back the margin.
Run Of The Race: PRANCE DRAGON put in a huge run to get within a neck of the leader from the position he was in. It was a great ride by Vincent Ho to get him into the clear and challenge for the victory. If he draws a more favourable barrier next time out, he may be able to go one better.
Disappointment: TRUST ME was caught out wide after jumping well from barrier 6. He was left wide and without cover in the back straight before pushing on to sit outside of the leader with 700m left to run. He came under pressure form the 400m point, but was only one-paced down the straight, tiring over the final 150m to end up 4.25 lengths off the lead in eighth position.
Comparison: Outside the standard time.
Market Mover: LORIZ was supported, as was E LEGEND and KOKUSHI MUSOU at longer odds.
Race 6 – Robin Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf – Distance 1000m – Track Good
Time: 57.14 Standard Time: 56.80 Course/Class record: 55.98 Harmony N Blessed
Winner: JOYFUL WIN (AUS 4yo g Shooting To Win – Miss Kistler) was ridden along out of the gates by Matthew Chadwick in search of a position on the pace, eventually crossing to the lead with 600m left to run. Chadwick immediately slowed the tempo around the turn, getting a quick breather before starting to apply the pressure on the gelding once more as they turned into the straight. He kicked away at the top of the straight, putting up a length-and-a-half gap to the rest of the field. The gap was big enough, as he was able to get to the finish line ahead of a late swooper, holding on to win by only a head.
Runner-Up: DECISIVE TWELVE wasn’t the fastest into stride but was able to find a great position in behind the speed, utilising his inside draw. He travelled up well under Vincent Ho, who came off the rail with 400m to go, getting into the clear at the top of the straight where he let down brilliantly. He charged home down the outside, chasing down the leader but just running out of time to catch him, going down narrowly by a head.
Run Of The Race: JOYFUL WIN did plenty of work to cross to the lead, but he still had the fight at the finish of the race to hold on for the win. That’s back-to-back wins now for Joyful Win, with his one being the more impressive of the two. He’s shown good fight and ability this time in, and he may be able to make it a hat-trick next time out.
Disappointment: TRIPLE TRIPLE finished a long way off the win after being left out three-wide and without cover over the 1000m journey. He was under the pump a long way from home and didn’t respond to the urgings of Matthew Poon, who eased the gelding over the final stages of the race. He finished 11.25 lengths off the winner in ninth position, with a veterinary examination after the race failing to reveal any abnormality.
Comparison: Outside standard.
Market Mover: JOYFUL WIN was jumped a well-supported $2.70 favourite.
Race 7 – Albatross Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:10.90 Standard Time: 1:09.80 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends
Winner: POISED TO STRIKE (AUS 6yo g Akeed Mofeed – Pandoro De Lago) got away quickly from barrier three and was able to find a great position on the leaders back and along the rail in the early stages of the race. He relaxed well under Zac Purton, who didn’t panic as the leader put a gap on the rest of the field down the back straight. Purton came away from the rail with 400m to go and began applying the pressure on the point of the turn as he got himself into clear air at the 300m point. It took him a while to get through his gears, but he responded to the hard riding of Purton from the 100m point, getting his head in front and proving too strong over the final stages to get the win by a neck.
Runner-Up: SINGAPORE SPIRIT broke well from his middle draw and was able quickly find a position in the one-out-one-back position under Vincent Ho. He travelled nicely under Ho down the back straight, before Ho asked him to quicken from the 500m point, moving out three-wide to build his momentum into the race. He boxed on gamely on the outside of the leaders and tired his heart out but couldn’t get his nose in front at any stage, going down narrowly.
Run Of The Race: The way POISED TO STRIKE dug deep and found an extra gear over the final 100m was quite impressive to watch. It looked as though he’d finish second or third, but he dug deep to get his neck in front and win in good style. It was his first win in Hong Kong, and who knows, there may be more on the horizon.
Disappointment: DASSIT was well-supported just prior to the jump but was caught very wide and without cover in the early stages, settling near the rear of the field before pushing on to settle midfield. He was still wide and without cover but appeared to be building into the race nicely around the turn. That stopped though as he didn’t handle the sharp turn into the straight, and then tired after straightening to fall back through the field and finish 6.5 lengths off the win in 11th position.
Comparison: Well outside the standard time.
Market Mover: LUCKY ARCHANGEL and DASSIT were both well supported late in betting.
Race 8 – Sand Martin Handicap, HK $2,400,000
Class 3 – Turf – Distance 1800m – Track Good
Time: 1:49.67 Standard Time: 1:49.20 Course/Class record: 1:47.91 Leap Of Faith
Winner: TIANCHI MONSTER (NZ 7yo g Shocking – Princess Biscotte) broke well from an inside draw and wasn’t bustled along out of the gates with Joao Moreira finding a spot midfield and one off the fence as they went past the winning post. Moreira would roll to the rail down the side of the course as the gelding relaxed well through the middle stages of the race. The pace was fair throughout as Moreira came away from the rail with 450m left to run, placing the gelding under pressure. The seas parted and the seven-year-old got a brilliant run from the top of the straight, clear and unobstructed, as he began to work through his gears to reel in the leaders. He got his head in front with 50m left to run and was just too strong in the final stages, finishing the better to win by a neck.
Runner-Up: SAVVY KINGMAN broke well and was able to find the lead with relative ease under Blake Shinn. He controlled the tempo out in front, running along unchallenged in the lead. The pace was solid, but not fast as they went down the back straight before Shinn started to ramp it up again with 600m remaining. He was challenged for much of the final 400m, but the gelding dug deep in the straight to fight off most of his rivals, but he just couldn’t hold off the winner.
Run Of The Race: SAVVY KINGMAN put in a tremendous effort to lead throughout and only go down by a neck, despite carry more weight tonight than his previous win. It was a great ride by Blake Shinn out in front, getting the most out of the gelding for a commendable second position.
Disappointment: SUPER OASIS jumped well in the market at $9.70 and went back to the rear of the field after jumping from an outside barrier. He remained there throughout the race and didn’t quicken at all when asked in the straight, weakening out of the race to finish a long last place.
Comparison: Just outside the standard time.
Market Mover: TOTAL POWER had supporters, while WORLD FAMOUS, FAST PACE and BEAUTY SPIRIT were all well backed at longer odds.
Race 9 – Tern Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:10.12 Standard Time: 1:09.50 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision
Winner: FAMILY FOLKS (AUS 5yo g Snitzel – Miss Sharapova) jumped on terms but was eased behind runners in the early going, settling about midfield and along the rail under Antoine Hamelin. He travelled well throughout the race with Hamelin moving away from the rail as they swung into the straight. He picked up well early in the straight and was able to get himself through a gap between runners with 100m left to go and running on strongly late to get the win, with the official margin being a neck.
Runner-Up: THE RUNNER jumped well from a middle gate and was eased out of the speed battle early by Matthew Poon, settling just worse than midfield as they went down the back straight. Poon already him under the whip 500m from home, but he continued to find under pressure, swinging wide on the turn. He stormed down the outside of the track to make things interesting at the finish, but he went down narrowly after the sustained run.
Run Of The Race: FAMILY FOLKS was treated to a great ride by Antoine Hamelin, who got him into a great position before picking him up in the straight. He wound up well and really let go over the final stages to ping through the middle of the pack and get the win.
Disappointment: ROCK YA HEART jumped well and went forward in the early stages, crossing to the rail with 850m to go. He appeared to have found his position comfortably under Vincent Ho and was travelling well around the turn as they straightened for home. But the gelding failed to respond to the urgings of Ho in the straight, tiring badly in the concluding stages and going to the line untested over the final 75m to finish in 11th position, six lengths off the win. A veterinary examination failed to find any abnormality.
Comparison: Outside standard.
Market Mover: THE RUNNER was well-supported at double figure odds.