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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 on Saturday, June 12th, 2024 

Race 1 – Aster Handicap, HK $875,000

Class 5 – Turf - Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:40.47 Standard Time: 1:40.30 Course/Class record: 1:38.91 All Joyful

It was an all-the-way victory for CHARMING STEED (FR 6yo g Charm Spirit – Militante) in the opener as he did it easily for Ellis Wong and Caspar Fownes. The gelding burst straight to the front from his wide draw, crossing to the lead prior to the first turn. The six-year-old was racing keenly as Wong attempted to control the race from the front, racing with his mouth open down the side of the course. The apprentice hoop was able to get Charming Steed to relax down the back straight, steadying the tempo before quickening once again with 600m remaining. He led comfortably as they swung into the bend and on straightening, he never looked like being run down. He opened up a big margin as he kicked strongly at the top of the straight, holding that lead down to the wire to score by 2-1/2 lengths. NINJA DERBY got away on terms and rolled forward under Matthew Chadwick to avoid being caught wide and without cover in the run. The local hoop was able to sit on the outside of the leader around the first turn, before letting the leader go and dropping in to follow the leader down the back straight. Chadwick was niggling at his mount to keep Charming Steed within striking distance turning off the back, but the gelding couldn’t match it when the sprint went on. He stuck on gamely to the finish, ending up a clear second, but the turn-of-foot on straightening was what blew the race apart. HANG’S CHOICE followed Ninja Derby throughout the event and stuck close to the inside as they entered the straight. He closed off well under Karis Teetan to finish in third position, but the other two were much better on the night.

Race 2 – Bellflower Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:39.96 Standard Time: 1:40.05 Course/Class record: 1:38.83 Flying Elite

COMET SPLENDIDO (IRE 6yo g War Command – Malayan Mist) scored his first win since October 2022. He was awkwardly away from an inside alley, with Hugh Bowman ending up in a midfield position. The Australian jockey was able to get down to the inside rail down the side of the course, and passing the midway point, the field split in two. Bowman was able to hold onto the leading division as they turned off the back, holding his position along the inside rail and travelling strongly as they rounded the home turn. Bowman ducked back to the inside as they entered the straight and the gelding quickened beautifully, going under his rivals to take up the running with 200m to run. There was a rival storming down the outside late, but he was still well clear with 50m to run and claimed his first victory for a long time by a neck. SETANTA found his way into the field following scratchings and ended up near the tail of the field on settling down. Luke Ferraris found himself a long way off the lead through the middle stages, being 8 lengths away with 800m remaining and still needing to make up 6-3/4 lengths as they entered the straight. The gelding quickened well though as the South African hoop got him into the clear, storming down the outside late in the race. He finished a neck away at the finish, just leaving his run too late. INVINCIBLE MISSILE also made a strong run from the rear down the stretch, ending up 1-1/2 lengths off the winner in third.

Race 3 – Camellia Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1800m – Track Good
Time: 1:50.17 Standard Time: 1:49.55 Course/Class record: 1:48.10 Acclaimed Light

It was a brilliant ride by Keith Yeung aboard JUBILATION (NZ 5yo g Ghibellines – Cherry Creek) flashing late and getting the job done narrowly. From a middle draw, Yeung took the gelding back to the tail of the field on settling down, racing a clear last as they passed the post with a lap to run. The local hoop remained a clear last through the middle stages, persisting with an inside run as they turned off the back, sneaking along the inside as they approached the home turn. The field fanned across the track as they entered the straight, giving Yeung plenty of space to pick through the field in the straight. After remaining close to the inside early in the straight, the local hoop moved into the clear with 150m to run and shot through a gap between horses. He rallied through to stick his nose in front with 50m remaining and held off his challengers close to the line, winning by a head. WINNING STEPS settled a little worse than midfield under Antoine Hamelin after getting away on terms. The Frenchman remained away from the rail in running, before moving into the three-wide trail as they travelled down the back straight. Turning off the back, the gelding appeared to have plenty to offer as Hamelin moved even wider on the track and began to improve around his rivals, building up plenty of momentum and getting to the middle of the track. The gelding ran on strongly down the outside to hit the front alongside Jubilation late in the race. The pair went to the line right next to each other, but he was just edged out by one better on the night. 

Race 4 – Dianthus Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:10.16 Standard Time: 1:09.85 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends

Race four was all about speed and FLYING WROTE (NZ 3yo g Wrote – O’Sabrina) proved to be the speediest of the lot. The gelding burst to the front right out of the barrier with Angus Chung taking up the running. He wasn’t challenged in front as he travelled comfortably through the middle stages, setting solid tempo before letting rip as they turned for home. His closest rivals went up in smoke around him as the three-year-old began to inch away. The gelding was there to be beaten if his rivals were good enough, but they were unable to reel in the leader as Flying Wrote led all the way to score by a neck on the line. TRAVEL GOLF landed in a midfield position along the inside from barrier five after a nice piece of riding by Matthew Chadwick. The gelding raced comfortably just off the speed and looked to be bolting around the turn as he got close to heels. In the straight, Chadwick remained close to the inside as the leaders got away from the inside rail, leaving plenty of space for Travel Golf to sneak beneath his rivals. He looked one of the only dangers late in the race, but he was unable to catch the winner who was just too good. MR VALIANT held on for third position in a photo finish after racing on the back of the leader throughout the event. 

Race 5 – The Ewo Challenge Trophy (Handicap), HK $3,120,000

Class 2 – Turf - Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:40.65 Standard Time: 1:39.20 Course/Class record: 1:37.97 Tsar

The trophy race on the night went to the flashy grey OUTGATE (GB 5yo g Outstrip – Penny Drops) who scored his third win this season. It was a muddling race early, with Outgate rolling forward to sit on the outside of the leader under Angus Chung, but the pace was only fair once the field found their positions. The race was shaken up when runners came around at the midway point to inject some pace into the race, with Chung now finding himself in the one-out-one-back position as they turned off the back. He was pushed wider on the course as they approached the home turn, but he was travelling well and looked to be making some ground out in the middle of the track. The grey really wound up inside the final 200m, hitting the front with 50m to run and proving too good at the finish, scoring by a half-length on the line. YELLOWFIN enjoyed a lovely run int her ace when settling on the back of the leader early on. When the pace went on down the middle of the track, Lyle Hewitson didn’t panic, remaining in a nice rhythm as they turned off the back and still within striking distance. As the race unfolded on the home turn, Hewitson was able to sneak up the inside and get a lovely run into the race, sticking close to the inside at the top of the straight and never going around a rival. He shot through along the inside and may have held the lead at one point in the straight, but Outgate was just too good late in the race. MOMENTS IN TIME settled near the tail of the field early on but was one of the main players down the back straight as Zac Purton shot around to take up the running. The Australian would lead comfortably around the home turn and into the straight and the gelding didn’t go down without a fight. He was still in front with 100m to run but was quickly passed by the winner and just missed out on third place in a close photo finish.

Race 6 – Heather Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1000m – Track Good
Time: 57.17 Standard Time: 57.00 Course/Class record: 56.39 Gentle Breeze

Matthew Chadwick guided home RED ELEGANCE (AUS 4yo g Toronado – Esteemed Elegance) to his first victory of the season, and an emphatic one at that. The gelding was a little slow into stride and found himself in the second half of the field on settling down, but the pace was right on from the get-go. As they turned off the back, Chadwick began to pick his way through the traffic, improving his position round the turn, but still spotting the leader a big start as they swung for home. The local hoop was able to get into the clear down the middle of the track and the flashy grey exploded like a shot out of a cannon. He stormed down the middle to take the lead inside the final 100m, and he drew away for a very impressive win, scoring by 2-1/4 lengths in fine style. MA COMET pressed forward to sit on the pace to avoid being caught wide as he was travelling four deep down the back straight. He enjoyed a cosy run in behind the leader and burrowed through to be an outright second as they turned for home. The gelding moved up to hit the front with 150m to run, but he was given windburn as Red Elegance blew right by him late in the race. He was strong to the line though, finishing a clear second in an effort where he lost no admirers. SIGHT HAPPY jumped the $2.80 favourite and closed off well enough after being a touch slow into stride once again.

Race 7 –Thistle Handicap, HK $1,860,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:10.29 Standard Time: 1:09.60 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision

It was a boil over in the seventh event as $44 shot LUCKY ARCHANGEL led from go to woah for Matthew Poon. After getting away on terms, Poon surged forward to win the speed battle down the back straight. He was able to eventually work to an outright lead down the back straight and be out by a length as they rounded the home turn, traveling strongly in front. He kicked away in the straight to extend his margin early in the straight as the rest of the field tried to reel him in. He had enough left in the tank to hold off a late challenge, making every post a winner as he scored by a neck on the line. CALIFORNIA DEEPLY jumped away well and was put on the speed by Matthew Chadwick, settling in behind the leasing division as they sorted their order out. He was still within striking distance as they turned off the back but was cluttered up between runners as they approached the home turn. The local hoop got him into the clear with plenty of time to spare, but it just took too long for the gelding to wind up. He hit the line full of running in the closing stages, but it was a case of too little, too late. NORDIC DRAGON stuck on well down the inside after dropping back into Class 3 tonight, holding on for third in a photo finish.

Race 8 – Violet Handicap, HK $1,860,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1000m – Track Good
Time: 56.88 Standard Time: 56.60 Course/Class record: 1:55.85 Stoltz

YOUTHFUL SPIRITS (AUS 4yo g Shamus Award – Rocket Baby) notched up his maiden victory tonight and was heavily backed in betting to do so. Jumping a $2.10 favourite, the gelding was roused along after the start to take up the running. While he didn’t show as much early pace as his rivals, he was able to sneak through with the aid of the inside rail and hold the lead turning off the back. Some of his rivals were already starting to feel the pinch as they turned into the straight, but not Youthful Spirits as he ended up two or three lengths in front with a furlong to run. He never looked like being run down, sustaining his effort right down to the line and scoring by two lengths at the post. HAPPY UNITED was last in the run under Vincent Ho after getting away from the outside barrier and being snagged back to the tail of the field. The field ended up in the middle of the track on straightening, allowing Ho to duck back to the inside where there was an unobstructed run right to the line. While he was never a winning hope, he did finish off strongly on the back of the strong tempo, running into second position in a solid effort. HEROIC MASTER dropped in to settle on the back of the leader through the middle stages and was a clear second as they turned into the straight. He got tired close to the line and was claimed late, but he was a mile ahead of the fourth placed runner.

Race 9 – Chamomile Handicap, HK $2,050,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:40.47 Standard Time: 1:39.85 Course/Class record: 1:38.55 Telecom Fighters

It was the favourite’s way home again in the last as Hugh Bowman secured a winning double aboard RED HARE KING (AUS 4yo g So You Think – Fragrance), with the win also bringing up a winning treble for Tony Cruz. After getting away well from a favourable alley, Bowman put the gelding into the one-out-one-back position and put the four-year-old to sleep. The tempo of the race was good and there were no mid-race moves for the Australian hoop to worry about as he travelled sweetly with the run of the race. Approaching the 400m point, Bowman got on his bike, shifting three-wide and beginning to urge the gelding along as they swung the bend and into the straight. The gelding didn’t handle the turn all that well, but he quickened nicely once balance to hit the front with 150m to run. The son of So You Think had to dig deep close to the finish with a few rivals coming at him in the dying stages, but Red Hare King was just too strong at the finish. AESTHETICISM settled in the second half of the field and was hemmed up along the inside rail throughout the event. Lyle Hewitson was unable to make any moves prior to the home turn and stuck to the inside as they swung into the straight, going under most of his rivals to challenge for the lead with 50m remaining. He got to within a neck close to home, but no further as the $33 chance could only manage second. STAR CONTACT rattled home down the outside and he appeared the main danger with around 200m to run. He may have peaked on the run late in proceedings, ending up a half-length away in third.

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