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The Davis Files - Happy Valley review

The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, July 6th, 2022

Race 1 – Tim Mei Handicap, HK $780,000

Class 5 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:40.26 Standard Time: 1:40.25 Course/Class record: 1:38.91 All Joyful

Winner: TAILOR MADE (GB 6yo g Archipenko – Malhadinha) wasn’t the fastest into stride, settling midfield once the field had sorted their order out. He travelled comfortably through the middle stages under Joao Moreira, with the pace quite good as they headed down the back straight. There were no mid-race moves, with Moreira still midfield on the rail with 600m remaining, but was able to get away from the inside and improve his position with 400m to run. The Brazilian was able to work his way to the outside as they swung for home, but was still around 4 lengths off the leader as they turned for home. He let down brilliantly down the centre of the course to take the lead away with 100m to run, fending off his rival with 50m to run and proving far too strong in the closing stages, pulling away to win by a length at the line.

Runner-Up: THIS IS CHARISMA was away only fairly from barrier 6, with Luke Ferraris quickly getting across to be midfield and one off the rail shortly after the start. Ferraris found himself just a touch worse than midfield once the field had sorted their order out, and remained in that position through the middle stages of the race, travelling kindly under the South African jockey. Ferraris then took off passing the 600m point, commencing a move three-wide as narrowed the margin to the leader turning into the home straight. He kept on well in the straight to run to the lead with the eventual winner with 100m to go, but he couldn’t match motors with the winner late in the race. He finished a length off the winner, but 2-1/4 lengths ahead of the third placegetter. 

Run Of The Race: THIS IS CHARISMA had to make a long and sustained run from the 600m point and just didn’t have enough in the tank to finish off. It was a brilliant ride by Luke Ferraris, but the gelding just didn’t have enough left in the tank to hold out his rival. He’s worth following heading into the next season.

Disappointment: MISTER MONTE was shoved along early to try and find a position in the front half of the field, but was unable to slot in under Dylan Mo. The gelding was cast three-wide and without cover for the entire race and began to give ground with 400m to run. He continued to fall back through the pack on straightening and finished back in 10th place, beaten 8-3/4 lengths.

Comparison: Almost bang on the standard time.
Market Mover: Money came for ZACIAN late in betting.

Race 2 – Tamar Handicap, HK $1,040,000

Class 4 – Turf – Distance 2200m – Track Good
Time: 2:16.85 Standard Time: 2:17.05 Course/Class record: 2:15.25 Donc Je Suis

Winner: HYPERION TREE (NZ 5yo g Redwood – Singa Songa) got away brilliantly from barrier 3 and went straight to the front under Alex Badel, finding the lead comfortably in the early stages and putting the gelding to sleep out in front. The field were still sorting their order out heading down the home straight, with the gelding challenged slightly passing the winning post with a lap to run, but Badel regained control at the front of the pack. The pace was only moderate through the first half of the race, before the Frenchman quickened the tempo down the back stretch, kicking 1-1/2 lengths clear of his nearest rival with 800m to run. It was obvious to see he was travelling the best of the field, with all of his competitors under heavy pressure with 400m remaining, but Badel hadn’t touched the five-year-old as yet. Badel pushed the button as they turned for home and the gelding kicked away at the top of the straight. He never looked like being run down in the closing stages as he continued to hold a big advantage to his rivals, going on to win by 2-1/2 lengths while Badel eased him down over the final 25m.

Runner-Up: WONDER YEARS jumped on terms from barrier four but had no early pace whatsoever, settling at the tail of the field despite the best efforts of Joao Moreira early on. Moreira just sat patiently at the back of the pack, being 8 lengths off the leader turning down the side of the course with 1200m remaining. Moreira was able to improve his position slightly down the back straight, but was already niggling at his mount with 800m remaining. The gelding was responding though, narrowing the margin slightly, before being held up around turning out of the back straight. The Brazilian finally got clear air around the home turn and was able to build the momentum turning for home, sticking toward the inside as they entered the final stretch. The gelding was doing his best work over the closing stages, sticking toward the inside and simply outstaying his opponents to run into second position, beaten 2-1/2 lengths. 

Run Of The Race: I want to follow both HYPERION TREE and WONDER YEARS out of this race, for different reasons. HYPERION TREE can continue to win races if he finds the lead unchallenged and can dictate from the front as he did today. If they can continue to ride the gelding in that manner, there’s more wins in store. WONDER YEARS is sort of the opposite, where it looks as though his best efforts will come from true staying tests. If he can find a race with some genuine pace on offer, he can run over the top of them.

Disappointment: KOWLOON GREAT was well-supported late in betting and was sitting toward the tail of the field near the second placegetter. He was still well back on straightening, and despite hitting the line well, he was never a chance to finish in the placings. 

Comparison: Inside the standard time.
Market Mover: KOWLOON GREAT had some support late in betting, with LEGION OF MERIT being specked at double figures.

Race 3 – Tim Mei Handicap, HK $780,000

Class 5 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:40.75 Standard Time: 1:40.25 Course/Class record: 1:38.91 All Joyful

Winner: GO FOR TEA (AUS 4yo g Smart Missile – Asshewaqua) jumped brilliantly from an outside draw and showed good pace in the early going, with Zac Purton pushing on from the deep to find the lead after being three-wide around the first turn. Purton got to the front and was left alone in the lead, sitting 1-1/2 lengths clear as they passed the 800m point. The Australian was able to dictate the race how he wanted and had most of his rivals off the bit and chasing with 500m to run, whilst Purton hadn’t asked the four-year-old for an effort as yet. He waited until the corner before pressing the button and the gelding shot away at the top of the straight, kicking 3 lengths clear with a furlong to run. He was simply too good in the finish, with Purton easing him down in the shadows of the post as he won impressively by 2 lengths.

Runner-Up: MISTER ARM was another who got away well and pressed on from barrier 9 to eventually settle on the back of the leader once they’d sorted their order out. Matthew Chadwick settled the gelding well down the side of the course and he was travelling well through the middle stages, keeping the leader within striking distance down the back straight. He came under pressure turning off the back straight and was already under the whip with 400m to run, but he was responding to the urgings of Chadwick as they swung into the straight. He kept on well along the inside of the course, scooting through underneath his rivals to run into second place with 100m to run and inch away to hold second comfortably. He was no match for the winner, but he stuck on well to finish a length clear of third.

Run Of The Race: You can’t go past the performance of GO FOR TEA who will now head up into Class 4 company. Zac Purton rode him a treat today out in front and if he can do something similar at his next starts, there’s no reason why he couldn’t win again.

Disappointment: ONE STEP AHEAD settled in a good position about midfield and was travelling nicely under Joao Moreira. The Brazilian took off turning out of the back straight and improved around the field under his own steam to be challenging for the lead as they turned into the straight. The challenge was short lived though as the gelding began to weaken at the 200m marker and only plugged away thereafter, finishing in 5th place and beaten 3-1/4 lengths.

Comparison: Just outside the standard time.
Market Mover: No real money moves with FLASH FAMOUS jumping favourite at $3.70

Race 4 – Garden Road Handicap, HK $1,040,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1000m - Track Good
Time: 56.99 Standard Time: 57.05 Course/Class record: 56.39 Gentle Breeze

Winner: MOMENTUM GALAXY (AUS 6yo g The Factor – Angel’s Breath) was away only fairly from barrier 4 with Harry Bentley opting out of the early speed battle. The Englishman slotted in behind the pace setters, but was urging his mount along in the opening 400m of the race. He found himself about midfield and along the rail as they turned off the back straight, and was improving his position along the rail to be only 1-3/4 lengths away with 400m to run. That gap had shortened once again as they turned for home, with Bentley coming out into the clear on straightening. He was grinding away out wider on the course, taking ground off the leaders with every stride to eventually join them with 50m to run. He poked his nose in front in the dying stages and was able to go home the stronger of his rivals, with the final margin being a head.

Runner-Up: SERGEANT PEPPER bounced quickly and had the advantage of an inside draw under Matthew Chadwick, which allowed him to hold a position on the pace without having to work too hard. He sat outside the leader once settled into stride and was travelling comfortably as they swung into the straight. He had to fight for his position with the leader not giving up easily, but he finally stuck his nose in front with 100m to run. He couldn’t hold off the winner though who had the last shot at them, but he did remain in second position, getting the nod in a photo finish.

Run Of The Race: SERGEANT PEPPER had to carry the top weight in today’s event, he sat on the speed in a race with a quick mid-race sectional, and he still only went down by a head. It was a great effort under Matthew Chadwick, and if he rises up in grade for his next start, he’d be worth following.

Disappointment: VIVA MAMA seems to have gone off the boil at his past two starts. He did draw wide today and had to race three-wide without cover around the home turn, but was already giving ground with 400m to run and finished 11 lengths off the pace in 8th position. Not sure what to do with him now, so we will have to wait and see how he trials heading into next season.

Comparison: Just inside the standard time.
Market Mover: SERGEANT PEPPER ran a well-supported favourite at $2.80.

Race 5 – Harcourt Handicap, HK $1,040,000

Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good 
Time: 1:09.70 Standard Time: 1:09.80 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends

Winner: WIND SPEEDER (AUS 4yo g Written Tycoon – Rationality) jumped on terms from barrier 4 and was ridden along by Vincent Ho out of the gates, before the local hoop eased out of the speed battle to settle in about fourth spot. The two leaders shot off down the back straight, leaving Ho 3-3/4 lengths off the leader, but the field had sorted themselves out with 600m to run. Ho all of a sudden found himself in a brilliant spot on the back of the leading pair, coming away from the inside and peeling three-wide as they turned into the home straight. He was only plugging away at the top of the straight, but began working through his gears with a furlong to run, going up to join the leader with 100m to run. He got to the lead passing the 50m point and was far too strong in the closing stages, going on to win by a half-length in good fashion.

Runner-Up: HARMONY N HOME got away on terms but didn’t show the pace of his rivals in the early going, settling about midfield as they turned down the back straight. Harry Bentley was already niggling at his mount passing the 800m point, with the gelding improving slightly turning off the back straight. He continued to improve around the home turn and into the straight, where Bentley threw everything he had at the gelding. He had an unimpeded run to the line and closed off well to run into a clear second position, but he was too far back to challenge the winner.

Run Of The Race: GEM OF SOUTH CHINA came out of the barriers and showed good early pace to hold the lead from his inside draw early on. He was fired up as they turned down the back though and shot clear of his rivals. He came under pressure with 400m to run and had every right to weaken out of the race, but to his credit, he stuck on gamely at the finish. He would only finish in third spot, beaten 1-1/2 lengths, but there’s plenty of merit to his effort.

Disappointment: ISLAND SURPRISE was the one who took on the early leader and skipped away alongside Gem Of South China down the back straight. Alex Badel was able to get him to settle turning out of the back stretch, but the gelding then came under pressure passing the 450m point. He hung in there as they turned for home, but dropped out shortly after to finish back in 7th spot, beaten 3-1/4 lengths.

Comparison: Inside the standard time.
Market Mover: LORIZ jumped the $4.50 favourite with no real betting moves to speak of.

Race 6 – Harcourt Handicap, HK $1,040,000

Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good 
Time: 1:10.10 Standard Time: 1:09.80 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends

Winner: COMPASSION SUPER (NZ 3yo g Super Easy – Ketchme) got away on terms and was ridden up by Zac Purton right out of the barriers, pushing on from gate 7 to hold the lead around the first turn, although he was caught out deep on the track. He was able to eventually slide over and get one off the fence down the back straight, and continued to lead passing the 800m point despite being away from the rail. The tempo was good through the middle stages and Purton eventually pressed on to take the outright lead turning off the back straight, getting to the rail around the home turn. He led by about a length as they turned into the home stretch, but most of his rivals were already under heavy pressure, while Purton was just about to let his mount go. He kicked away at the top of the straight and extended his margin passing the 150m point. He was starting to tire in the closing stages, but he had enough of a gap to hold his rivals at bay and win comfortably in the end by 1-1/4 lengths. 

Runner-Up: TRIUMPHANT RETURN got away fairly, but wasn’t one of the fastest into stride, with Matthew Chadwick sliding back to settle about midfield and along the rail as they turned down the back straight. He travelled comfortably down the back straight and was able to improve his position along the rail turning off the back, sliding along the paint before coming away from the inside with 400m to run. Chadwick was able to get into the clear at the top of the straight, with the local hoop urging his mount to improve between runners with 200m remaining. It was a tight squeeze, but he shot through well and was the strongest to hit the line, running into second position with a wall of horse chasing.

Run Of The Race: COMPASSION SUPER had the pace to cross from a sticky draw, then run to the lead, then kick away in a terrific 1-1/4 length victory. He could win by even further next time out if he draws well. He’s one to keep an eye on heading into the new season.

Disappointment: LESLIE didn’t get away all that well and was shoved along by Joao Moreira in the early going, but he could only manage to get midfield as they turned down the back straight. He was caught three-wide without cover throughout the run, but did seem to be travelling well passing the 400m point. He was pushed out wide turning for home and initially responded well at the top of the straight, but had nothing left in the tank over the concluding stages and was swamped in a blanket finish. He ended up in 6th place, beaten 2 lengths.

Comparison: Just outside the standard time.
Market Mover: DOUBLE SHOW was backed into favouritism, jumping at $3.20.

Race 7 – Lung Wui Handicap, HK $1,040,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:40.24 Standard Time: 1:40.00 Course/Class record: 1:38.83 Flying Elite

Winner: BIG TWO (IRE 5yo g Dandy Man – Heard A Whisper) got away brilliantly off the inside barrier and was running up on the pace early on, keeping his rivals out wider on the course before eventually taking a trailing position on the back of the leader. The field changed their order down the side of the course, with Lyle Hewitson finding himself just forward of midfield heading down the back straight, before the leader slammed the brakes on with 700m to run. The field packed up turning out of the back straight, with Hewitson able to get away from the fence with 450m remaining and begin ramping up the pressure. He was bolting as they swung into the straight, with the South African getting right out into the clear at the top of the straight. It took him a couple of strides to get going, but once he hit top gear he rounded up the leaders very quickly. He hit the lead with 100m to run and never looked like going down, hitting the line full of running to win by 1-1/2 lengths.

Runner-Up: FREE FOAL was an emergency who got a start tonight, and was a little slow out of the barriers under Luke Ferraris. He wouldn’t be able to slot into the running line, sitting three-wide through the middle stages in the back half of the field. Ferraris began to make a move with 650m remaining, scooting around the outside of the field to go up and join the leaders around the home turn, doing it all under his own steam. He took the lead at the top of the straight, and was still leading with 150m to run, but couldn’t hold off the leader who stormed over the top of him with 100m to run. He stuck on gamely to hold on to second position in a photo finish.

Run Of The Race:  It was an impressive win by BIG TWO who can continued winning, but the horse I want to follow out of the race is FREE FOAL. He raced wide with no cover, before circling the field to take the lead at the top of the straight. He may have tired late in the race, but he stuck on gamely to hold onto second position in a very good effort.

Disappointment: SUNNY DELIGHT travelled midfield in the run and was popped out by Zac Purton with 400m to run, but was pushed even wider on the course by his rivals. He wasn’t responding to the urgings of Purton at all in the home straight, and finished back in 9th place, beaten 3-1/2 lengths.

Comparison: Outside the standard time.
Market Mover: VITRALITE had some support at big odds.

Race 8 – Drake Handicap, HK $1,570,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:09.11 Standard Time: 1:09.50 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision

Winner: PING HAI GALAXY (AUS 6yo g The Factor – De Lago Flash) pinged out of the barriers and was urged along by Alex Badel to find the front, doing so easily around the first turn and setting a quick tempo through the first half of the race. He stretched the field right out down the back straight keeping the pace up around the home turn. He had most of his rivals off the bit and chasing with 400m remaining, with Badel still sitting patiently aboard the flashy grey gelding. He pinged off the turn and extended his margin to some four or five lengths with 150m to run in an impressive turn-of-foot. He was miles in front, but did become tired over the closing stages, with his closest rival narrowing the margin at the finish. But, the gelding was too far in front, getting the job done by 1-1/4 lengths at the finish.

Runner-Up: BEAUTY GLORY pressed on from a wide barrier after jumping well for Luke Ferraris, who sat about 1-1/2 lengths off the back of the leader right throughout the race. He kept the leader within striking distance, while the rest of the field were some 4 lengths off the pace as they turned off the back straight. Ferraris placed him under pressure as they turned for home, but was left in the leader’s dust at the top of the straight. He did stick on well though to narrow the margin at the death, and although he was no match for the leader, he did finish 3 lengths clear of third place.

Run Of The Race: What a performance by PING HAI GALAXY who shot straight to the front and ran the field off their feet. He was far too good under Alex Badel, and the scariest part is, he had a big kick left in him after setting a quick tempo throughout. He could do some damage if he finds the right races next season.

Disappointment: RISING FROM ASHES jumped favourite and settled toward the rear after being a bit slow out of the barriers. He found himself a long way off the lead down the back straight, racing three-wide with cover under Joao Moreira. He was a whopping 8-3/4 lengths off the lead with 400m remaining and was already under heavy pressure as they swung for home. He was only plain in the straight, finishing back in 9th place, beaten 6-1/2 lengths.

Comparison: Well inside the standard time.
Market Mover: Plenty of money moves in this race. DIAMOND BRILLIANT halved his quote to jump a $15 chance, while LYRICAL MOTION was also supported. NAMJONG SINGS and HIGH CLOUD had their fans at double figure odds also.

Race 9 – Drake Handicap, HK $2,400,000

Class 2 – Turf - Distance 1000m - Track Good
Time: 56.54 Standard Time: 56.65 Course/Class record: 56.13 Sight Success

Winner: CLASSIC UNICORN (NZ 6yo g Per Incanto – Grace and Eva) jumped brilliantly and showed good pace under Matthew Chadwick, who revved the gelding up out of the barriers to lead the field on settling down. He was able to travel comfortably through the middle stages with nobody coming to challenge him out front, and held a solid 1-1/2 advantage around the turn. He’d extended that to be 2-1/4 lengths with 400m to run, with Chadwick sitting patiently aboard the six-year-old. He kicked well at the top of the straight and was responding to the urgings of Chadwick, but was starting to weaken with 100m to run. Things got desperate in the final stages as he really needed the finish, but he clung on to win by a head, holding off a wall of runners.

Runner-Up: ROCK YA HEART got away on terms, but Ruan Maia restrained the gelding shortly after the start to settle toward the tail of the field. Maia crossed down to the inside and was able to scoot along the rail to improve his position turning off the back, with the gelding travelling very well as they turned for home. Maia was able to slice his way through the pack and into the clear with 250m remaining, quickening well as he set out after the leader. He ran on strongly at the finish to make things interesting, but the leader just held him off.

Run Of The Race: Matthew Chadwick got the ride aboard CLASSIC UNICORN centimetre perfect as he clung on to win by a head. It was a great performance by horse and human, with the six-year-old kicking away at the top of the straight and fighting right to the line.

Disappointment: STOLTZ had to carry the top weight today and was drawn awkwardly under Zac Purton, being shuffled back to the second half of the field turning off the back. He didn’t have the cleanest of runs in the straight, but the gelding probably wasn’t going well enough as it was, with the equal favourite finishing in 11th place, beaten 4-1/4 lengths. There is some excuse for the poor performance though, with the gelding showing signs of lameness in his right front leg in a post-race veterinary exam.

Comparison: Inside the standard time.
Market Mover: HANDSOME BO BO and CLASSIC UNICORN had support late in betting, while ROCK YA HEART and METRO WARRIOR were also specked at double figure odds.

Classic Unicorn and Matthew Chadwick, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club

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