The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the Standard Champions & Chater Cup meeting at Sha Tin on Sunday, May 24th, 2020
RACE 1 PAKISTAN STAR PLATE HK $850,000
GRIFFIN - Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:10.78 Standard Time: 1:10.05 Course/Class Record: 1:08.80
Winner: LIKE THAT (AUS 2yo g Akeed Mofeed – Calemore) goes back-to-back with a 1000m victory up the straight three weeks earlier now bettered by a beautifully balanced 1200m win around the turns for the first time. Trainer John Moore has found something better from the gelding in each of his three starts, a nice lift second up with blinkers, and even sharper today. On a Group One day it is rather apt that sire Akeed Mofeed would leave a winner, the former star a Hong Kong Derby and Hong Kong Cup winner. Rider Zac Purton slips one clear of premiership rival Joao Moreira on a day where the two champions both have great rides.
Runner-up: CHANCHENG PRINCE had placed tice up the straight at 1000m and continues his forward progress with a nice chase to comfortably finish second. He was a $US150,000 buy out of the 2019 Spring Sale in America and by dual Group 1 winner Carpe Diem, a son of champion sire Giant’s Causeway.
Run Of The Race: A lot to like about LIKE THAT, he is on a lovely upward trend. With plenty of money on him, SUPER TEN ran on resolutely after being wide then back to the rear early. Posted a tidy 22.10 final 400m.
Disappointment: SUNNY STAR copped a check in the straight but he looked under pressure. After a swift debut win at the 1000m he was perhaps a little less confident around the bends for the first time.
Comparison: Well above standard and LIKE THAT had to win with easy sectionals. Went as fast as he had to.
Market Mover: SUPER TEN $12.70 to $5.70
RACE 2 LIBERATOR HANDICAP HK $967,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 1400m – Track Good
Time: 1:21.87 Standard Time: 1:22.15 Course/Class Record: 1:21.08
Winner: ARMOR STAR (NZ 4yo g Dalghar – Worship) was a horse we highlighted as the one to follow when he hit the line very strongly on debut in Hong Kong over 1200m on May 9. The rise to 1400m so suitable here and Zac Purton made no mistake, outside leader from the jump and dictating the play. After being sold through the ring for $A50,000 he was trialled by Robert Hickmott before his import into HK. A horse to follow, a mile won’t stop him.
Runner-up: CIRCUIT HASSLER was unbelievable. He’s jumped well from the wide gate but just couldn’t get any closer than three-deep. Left there the entire way he fights as tenaciously as any horse could, beaten in a head-up-head-down bob on the line.
Run Of The Race: CIRCUIT HASSLER wins this hands down. Amazing effort to nearly carry an army of tote backers to victory. NOBLE DESIRE a horse to follow out of the Douglas Whyte stable, finishing off strongly from last in first time beyond 1200m.
Disappointment: LEAP OF FAITH was given every possible in the trail by Moreira and did not meet the standard required, battling into fourth.
Comparison: A fresh SHANGHAI DRAGON slipped along in front to run under standard though no real fireworks in the run so they could have gone somewhat faster.
Market Mover: CIRCUIT HASSLER $8.60 to $4.00
RACE 3 MIGHTY HIGH HANDICAP HK $967,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 1600m – Track Good
Time: 1:34.60 Standard Time: 1:34.90 Course/Class Record: 1:33.78
Winner: ENJOY LIFE (NZ 6yo g Falkirk – Sorbello) caps two second placings over 1600m with a lovely victory at the same distance, capitalising on a lovely ride from Joao Moreira who allowed a group to go very hard out in front. He eased his way out on the bend and was soon the winner, cruising p to a gallant runner up and away and gone. Not an often winner, the son of Falkirk (sire of former Derby winner Fay Fay) has now taken four victories from 46 starts for Me Tsui.
Runner-up: FULL POWER bounced back from a very disappointing run on April 19 to run arguably his best race in Hong Kong at start 10. A winner at 1600m in March, there should be more to come from the son of world champion Frankel.
Run Of The Race: FULL POWER and REGENCY MASTER get a big tick after surviving that front-end battle to run second and third respectively. From the back JOLLY FOREVER was sound, last to eighth and through the line better than most.
Disappointment: CALIFORNIA LEGEND found the lead, albeit in a war, but was gone in one stride when they straightened after being heavily backed. Money for MOSTER KAKA also did not pay off. Handy but faded out.
Comparison: Track has less fore in it today. They ran this at a strong tempo and bettered standard by just 0.3 seconds. Rain in the region has blunted the surface.
Market Mover: CALIFORNIA LEGEND $25.00 to $10.40
Thanks Forever and Zac Purton, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
RACE 4 THE SHA TIN VASE (HCP) HK $3,250,000
Group 3 – Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:08.96 Standard Time: 1:08.40 Course/Class Record: 1:07.50
Winner: THANKS FOREVER (AUS 4yo g Duporth – Cinecitta) was perfectly placed to win his first Group race and it took a determined final dash to get it done, bagging win three from four races on the card for a red-hot Zac Purton. Placings in the G2 The Sprint Cup and G1 Chairman’s Sprint led to favouritism in this event. Trainer John Moore had warned of his sharp but short sprint and Purton timed it nicely in securing win five from just start 16 for the son of Duporth. He looms as one of the big names in the Hong Kong sprinting scene but will have a new trainer next term with Moore’s pending move back to Australia.
Runner-up: HOT KING PRAWN dictated the tempo, eased away on the corner and it looked his race after being able to run the race the way he wanted. But that final 100m was the issue, grabbed very late by the surging winner.
Run Of The Race: Off the data it’s been a super run from FAT TURTLE to dash home and finish fourth but mission impossible they way the race was run.
Disappointment: HOT KING PRAWN goes down as the disappointment given he had all favours to suit him in front and probably should have held them at bay on his best form.
Comparison: Well outside standard at Group level, the leader HOT KING PRAWN was allowed slow sectionals in a walk and sprint only.
Market Mover: FAT TURTLE $12.10 to $6.60
RACE 5 WERTHER HANDICAP HK $1,450,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:08.75 Standard Time: 1:09.25 Course/Class Record: 1:08.32
Winner: GOOD LUCK FRIEND (NZ 3yo g Swiss Ace – Maravilla) has been a promising horse from day one in Hong Kong and he added to that reputation with a sparkling victory in his Class 3 debut. Few jump a grade and win so easily but this Kiwi-bred thumbed his nose at them. Carrying no weight with just the 118lb meant regular pilot Zac Purton had to make way for Joao Moreira this time. And no mistakes from the Brazilian champ, straight into the lead then trailed, booting away with instant acceleration. Bought by Ricky Yui for $NZ90,000 at the NZB Ready To Run Sale this horse looks every inch a bargain.
Runner-up: BIZ POWER dashed home wider on the course under Purton and was clearly best of the rest, a very good run with some work to do from back in the field. Winless in 13 runs for Paul O’Sullivan, the Italian-bred was twice a winner for Team Botti at 1000m and 1500m before his importation. Edging slowly towards Class 4. He’s been stuck in Class 3 since day one in Hong Kong.
Run Of The Race: Winner was superior and looks a really smart horse. CALIFORNIA LEVEE was not awful from a wide draw and wide on the track making ground at big odds. Look for him to draw closer in.
Disappointment: WIND N GRASS was back on the inner, did gain a nice rails run on the corner but did not finish off as maybe expected. Better than that.
Comparison: Pace was good at the rail and they bettered the standard comfortably. Helps when a quality horse leaps out of the trail and sprints a quick 400m, too.
Market Mover: GOOD LUCK FRIEND $1.70 to $1.60
RACE 6 MR MEDICI HANDICAP HK $967,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.45 Standard Time: 1:09.50 Course/Class Record: 1:08.46
Winner: SCORES OF FUN (AUS 3yo g Reward For Effort – Montana Hilton) debuts off some smart trial form at Conghua and Sha Tin after being purchased out of the Patrick Payne stable in Victoria in late 2019. A horse with a private reputation he went around as favourite on debut for trainer John Size and did not disappoint. Sitting just off the leaders he angled wide for Joao Moreira and scooted away to win very easily. Dam Montana Hilton was a seven-race winner on the provincial tracks of New South Wales. This horse will develop a very strong record in Hong Kong.
Runner-up: GOLDEN LINK flew home wide in a clearly superior 22.77 final 400m, an impressive first showing of form in Hong Kong. Just the one previous start in Hong Kong after four trials in New Zealand, the son of Per Incanto has a bright future. His dam won at 1400m and 2400m so his range could be a wide one.
Run Of The Race: GOLDEN LINK very good charging home and the standout at 40/1 odds. No need to drop KINDA COOL, he was trapped three-deep on the pace and that told late.
Disappointment: SKY DARCI was badly held up early in the run home and for at least 200m desperately trying to find room that was not there. Race was all over when he finally eyed some daylight. His first run since December 2019 and a horse to follow in June.
Comparison: On the standard time in a race where the pace really didn’t come into it through the early and middle stages.
Market Mover: VOYAGE STAR $18.90 to $11.60, QIPAO BOSS $35.60 to $21.20
RACE 7 HELENE SUPER STAR HANDICAP HK $967,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.50 Standard Time: 1:09.50 Course/Class Record: 1:08.46
Winner: YEE CHEONG PEGASUS (AUS 5yo h Lonhro – Sparks Fly) had finished second in five of his previous six starts, winning on the other attempt. So, his consistency again rewarded under the guidance of Antoine Hamelin, back of middle on the outer and up wide on the corner to rush home. A much-improved horse, some real inconsistency in performance in 2019 and a changed horse since joining Tony Millard’s stable. Win two from start 17 but he looks a better horse than that record. Hard to beat again next time on a luxury rating, now a knock on the door of Class 3.
Runner-up: Kaphero gelding HERO TIME was well supported at mammoth odds and ran the race of his life in looking the winner at the 250m mark, grabbed late by the race favourite. His races have been spaced a month apart by Manfred Man in a short seven start career to date.
Run Of The Race: LADY FIRST and KA FORTUNE really good from the rear in third and fifth respectively. The latter was a very conspicuous last and the only horse to break 23.0 the final 400m. No surprise he lacked the early dash dropping from 1650m on the dirt back to the 1200m.
Disappointment: SELL MY SOLE was well backed to double up for John Size and Joao Moreira after the powerhouse pair met with success in the previous event. But the Jimmy Choux three-year-old couldn’t go on with it after receiving a nice run, gaining a gap when he needed it, however dour from that point.
Comparison: Exactly on the standard.
Market Mover: HERO TIME $169.80 to $53.80, TRUE LEGEND $12.30 to $7.10
RACE 8 THE STANDARD CHARTERED CHAMPIONS & CHATER CUP
Group 1 - Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 2400m – Track Good
Time: 2:26.01 Standard Time: 2:26.35 Course/Class Record: 2:24.60
Winner: EXULTANT (IRE 6yo g Teofilo – Contrary) is a magnificent flag-bearer for Hong Kong racing, a superstar stayer. This his fifth Group 1 success for Tony Cruz and Zac Purton, and a very memorable victory to end his season. Just seven runners in this one, and small fields often cause the most frustration tactically. Aware of that, Purton made it a staying race from start to finish – the best stayer would only win today in his mind. As he did in the corresponding event last year EXULTANT had them breathless at the home turn and at the winning post, his superior staying qualities unmatched in this part of the world. He banks win 11 and earnings now well in excess of a staggering $HK70 million.
Runner-up: CHEFANO worked early, settled in, made another move 1000m out to be pushed three-wide by EXULTANT and had the fortitude to dig deep and run on best of the rest into second. A 2400m winner in Hong Kong last start and now placed at the same trip, the South African stayer could be the star of the show next season.
Run Of The Race: EXULTANT fantastic, CHEFANO wonderful.
Disappointment: SAVVY NINE had a chance to sprint off the pace that had been set but did not find the 2400m to his liking at this stage.
Comparison: Around standard on a track providing steady times today.
Market Mover: FURORE $8.00 to $4.80
Exultant and Zac Purton, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
RACE 9 BLAZING SPEED HANDICAP HK $1,450,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 1800m – Track Good
Time: 1:47.37 Standard Time: 1:47.55 Course/Class Record: 1:46.18
Winner: DEFINING MOMENT (AUS 5yo g Good Journey – Bella Bellucci) didn’t look a hope to win this at the home turn, under a ride third-from-last and with many lengths to make up. Still quite remarkable he was able to make it, Joao Moreira going for the rails run, a masterstroke to get up in a brilliant six-way finish. Great return to Class 3 from the two-time Australian winner, he’d twice won at 1600m then 1800m in Class 4 in April before a sound fourth in Class 3 at 2000m on May 3. His 10th start of 2020 so he’s a busy boy. Win four from start 30 for Casper Fownes.
Runner-up: EMZEMBLE was quickly outside the leader with a 10lb claim under Jerry Chau and from there he dictated terms. Slipping a length in front the race looked his for the taking but the big blanket of challengers then arrived to place him under pressure – failing by a slender short-head. A difficult entry into Hong Kong in Class 3 off two wins from 12 starts in Great Britain. His rating remains around the 70 mark so a drop in class won’t come for some time, if ever.
Run Of The Race: CHARITY GO was three wide the trip and beaten short margins in one of the runs of the day. If anything, he jumped a little too well from a wide gate and was unable to get in, forced to sit wide then press forward from the half mile. Terrific effort from the Irish-bred who last won on New Year’s Day.
Disappointment: Off two wins and a placing at Happy Valley TANGMERE had a great trip under Purton and was produced at the right time to make his mark. But he failed to finish it off, querying his Sha Tin form after showing much more on the tighter Happy Valley circuit. GOD OF DRAGON heavily backed, perfect trip in the trail, not enough dash in the straight.
Comparison: On the standard again. Speed looked well on again, but the times not reflecting that today.
Market Mover: GOD OF DRAGON $24.10 to $8.90, ENZEMBLE $5.70 to $4.30
RACE 10 CALIFORNIA MEMORY HANDICAP HK $1,450,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 1400m – Track Good
Time: 1:21.15 Standard Time: 1:21.85 Course/Class Record: 1:20.62
Winner: AMAZING CHOCOLATE (AUS 4yo g Sepoy – Nanda Kot) comes off a freshen up after last racing March 14 to display some brilliance to win his second race in Hong Kong despite some real inconsistency in effort in 17 starts. A 1400m winner on March 1, his only other victory here, the Sepoy gelding was a former member of the James Cummings stable in Sydney and won twice from 10 starts as ‘Nathula’. Wide out without cover Karis Teetan elected to roll forward and take control of the race at the 600m and from then on it became a procession, putting five-lengths on a pack with no answer. Terrific run.
Runner-up: FLYING VICTORY had not been seen since winning a Class 3 1400m in good style on November 3, 2019. A lovely return to the racetrack from him, hitting the line hard from well back in just his seventh race start and the Guillotine gelding likely to win again very quickly out of the Frankie Lor stable. He now looks a bargain buy as a yearling, sold for just $NZ35,000.
Run Of The Race: AMAZING CHOCOLATE brilliant, and from last STREET SCREAM was so good dashing into third at 320/1, first sign of form in five starts in Class 3 for David Hall, after a win and a second from two starts when trained by Kim Waugh in New South Wales. MERRYGOWIN unlucky, met bad traffic issues and ran on well again. GLORIOUS LOVER goes in the mix next time around, too, did well from rear.
Disappointment: HELLO BEAUTY had the money on and was one of those who went into battle in the early stages and could not withstand it. REGENCY BO BO lost rider Z Purton as the gates were released.
Comparison: Some real spark in this one, seven-tenths under standard and the leading group had nothing left on the home turn.
Market Mover: HELLO BEAUTY $9.80 to $4.70
RACE 11 VIVA PATACA HANDICAP HK $2,100,000
Class 2 – Rating 100-80 - Turf ‘A’ Course – Distance 1400m – Track Good
Time: 1:21.24 Standard Time: 1:21.55 Course/Class Record: 1:20.29
Winner: BAND OF BROTHERS (NZ 5yo g Sahkee’s Scret – Jan Valachi) has quickly built a good horses record – now 14 starts for six wins and three placings under the guidance of Kiwi trainer Paul O’Sullivan. Victory did come by the smallest margin you’d find, charging at the line when belatedly clear to get a decision from the judge over runner-up GLORIOUS SPECTRUM. Versatile this horse, able to mix it at 1400m and 1600m at will. His dam Jan Valachi (by Kingdom Bay) was a very good mare, winning nine races in New Zealand from 1200m to 1600m when trained by Jan Hay. She has also left five-time Hong Kong winner Secret Agent.
Runner-up: GLORIOUS SPECTRUM had it won when he darted through a gap and gathered in the leader and even to eye looked to have held on. But a couple of pixels of the camera said otherwise. Now seven starts in HK for four second placings. His turn is well due. Won four from six in Italy.
Run Of The Race: DAN CONTROL (by Slade Power) came from last to fourth in the space of the final 200m of the race and was brilliant. He had won on debut in Hong Kong in Class 3 after making his way over from Ireland as a placed maiden. This his first outing since November 2019 and a fresh up effort sure to enter black books all around the world – stunning sprint.
Disappointment: WILL POWER was tested for the first time on the turf track and after trailing all the way lacked the final dash. With three wins and two placings on the all-weather track he’s in a difficult position in the ratings to find suitable poly track racing. TRANSCENDENT failed to find racing room when needed at the top of the straight.
Comparison: Under standard in another solidly run affair, but you’d expect some tempo in Class 2.
Market Mover: HAPPY FUN $7.70 to $4.70, WILL POWER $5.50 to $4.10, BEAUTY RUSH $17.20 to $10.20