The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the Lion Rock Trophy meeting at Sha Tin on Sunday, May 31st, 2020.
RACE 1 TSZ WAN SHAN HANDICAP HK $725,000
Class 5 – Rating 40-0 - Turf ‘B’ Course – Distance 1400m – Track Good
Time: 1:22.41 Standard Time: 1:22.40 Course/Class Record: 1:21.53
Winner: SOCCER MASTER (GER 5yo g Ifraaj – Neuquen) took 18 starts to break through, he’s now won two from 19 after backing up from that March 29 victory with another, and both at 1400m. Trainer Chris So produces the Ifraaj gelding for just the fourth time in 2020 but in picking his fights he’s gaining reward from that. And off a rating of just 25 into this event he will stay in Class for some time yet so there’s room for more success. Ran the fastest final half-mile.
Runner-up: BUNDLE OF ENERGY was some way from the pace and running on solidly into second but no chance with the winner. Just his second start in 2020 after finishing fourth at 1650m at Happy Valley in late March. Some extra improvement to come from the son of Reliable Man who is now winless in 22 starts in Hong Kong.
Run Of The Race: SOCCER MASTER superior and no superstars to follow up on in behind him.
Disappointment: HURRICANE HUNTER took the late money but after following the winner into the race lost his tail 300m out and was dour from that point.
Comparison: Right on the standard. Track had been upgraded before the first from ‘Good To Yielding’ to ‘Good’.
Market Mover: SOCCER MASTER $10.40 to $6.90, THE FULL BLOOM $9.70 to $7.80
Fined: Matthew Poon (SOCCER MASTER) $17,500 for interference at the 200m mark. Joao Moreira (BUNDLE OF ENERGY) $5000 for failing to weigh in.
Suspended: Matthew Poon suspended one day, Wednesday June 10.
RACE 2 TSZ WAN SHAN HANDICAP HK $725,000
Class 5 – Rating 40-0 - Turf ‘B’ Course – Distance 1400m – Track Good
Time: 1:22.74 Standard Time: 1:22.40 Course/Class Record: 1:21.53
Winner: KWAICHUNG BROTHERS (AUS 7yo g Racer’s Edge – Shezgonewest) is another where the wins don’t come all that often but he gained a deserved medal for attendance today. Some ground to make up after being back half in the rear, too, so a tidy win taking rails runs under Vagner Borges. The recent diet of racing has been at Happy Valley over 1650m so a good effort to drop to 1400m and win. The big straight Sha Tin definitely a help.
Runner-up: SHANGHAI RUSKY gained a nice trip fourth the fence and did not spend a penny in the run. The first show of form for new trainer Michael Chang after seven unplaced efforts previously, only one other for Chang. A change of environment may have helped.
Run Of The Race: SEIZE THE SPIRIT got back and took some time to get wound up but he really fired home the final 100m, home in 23.08 to be the pick of them from 400m to winning post. A good consistent run of form from him since winning a Class 5 1400m race in February and at 40 points on the edge of Class 5 or a rise to Class 4.
Disappointment: FLYING MONKEY backed to run very well but having had his chance to figure running on speed there was no final dash. And favourite GALAXY RACER was back and wide but seemed to always be toiling.
Comparison: Just outside the standard on a track that does look to test them a little more after that rain leading up to the meeting.
Market Mover: FLYING MONKEY $22.80 to $7.70
Fined: Blake Shinn (BLINK OF A SECOND) $5000 for using the whip when out of contention.
RACE 3 PIPER’S HILL HANDICAP HK $967,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘B’ Course – Distance 1000m – Track Good
Time: 0:55.59 Standard Time: 0:56.85 Course/Class Record: 0:55.12
Winner: WINNING DREAMER (NZ 3yo g Deep Field – Markisa) comes from a hot family, traces back to the golden Eight Carat cross, second dam Marquise a star galloper in New Zealand winning at Group 1 level. This horse was bought for $NZ300,000 at the Karaka Sales and was unbeaten in two 2019 trials in NZ before joining up with Frankie Lor. The Hong Kong trial form has been spectacular and he looked a winner on debut. Lovely natural pace took him to the front and Vincent Ho always had them covered, booting clear late to put the exclamation mark on the performance. A Class 1 sprinter this fellow.
Runner-up: Big effort from FABULOUS EIGHT again, he had to come from gate one near the inside rail to match up with the winner wider on the track so with 131lb a terrific try.
Run Of The Race: Nothing as good as WINNING DREAMER, he’s simply superior to Class 4 company. But do take note of EL JEFE, well back in the last handful and running on well into fifth no mean feat at this speed. Will win again soon for Dennis Yip.
Disappointment: Chasing a good one like the winner it’d be tough to mark any as disappointing. Though from gate 14 and the outside rail WAYFOONG STAR failed to run it out.
Comparison: Just the 1.26 inside standard and closing in on Class record time without being hustled. Think that points out the ability of the winner.
Market Mover: WINNING DREAMER $3.20 to $2.30, WAYFOONG STAR $7.00 to $5.70
RACE 4 EAGLE’S NEST HANDICAP HK $1,450,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘B’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.14 Standard Time: 1:09.25 Course/Class Record: 1:08.32
Winner: RACING FIGHTER (NZ 5yo g Mastercraftsman – Comme Tu Veux) extends a nice record with win four in start 2 for Dennis Yip and his first in 12 months after winning on the corresponding card last season. Zac Purton is the man for this horse, the successful jockey in all four career wins. It took a great ride, too. Purton had to find cover from a very wide draw and into one-off after settling was a peach. He came wide on the bend and sustained a long run, a very good effort. He was winless in five NZ starts as ‘As You Will’ before export but ran second at Group 2 level in his final run as a Kiwi for Mike Moroney.
Runner-up: UNIQUE TREASURE really lunged again late after a couple of small checks in the straight that may have cost victory. The veteran of just nine starts in Hong Kong, the son of Exceed And Excel is now finding some sharper form off a slow start. He’d won twice in Great Britain in 2018 as ‘Nearest Green’ both at 1000m.
Run Of The Race: RACING FIGHTER hard to trump coming from a wide gate and then wide the turn. Top effort from both horse and rider.
Disappointment: QUADRUPLE DOUBLE was strongly backed into even money with Jerry Chau’s 10lb claim and though not a real disappointment he did have the rail while the pair that beat him home had to come from wide. Winner carried 130lb and this horse 122lb so he was beaten by a better one.
Comparison: Around standard time on a course proper that’s lacking any fire to date. Sound time nonetheless.
Market Mover: CALIFORNIA TURBO $12.10 to $7.90
RACE 5 SHA TIN HEIGHTS HANDICAP HK $967,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘B’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.39 Standard Time: 1:09.50 Course/Class Record: 1:08.46
Winner: HINYUEN SWIFTNESS (AUS 7yo g Duke Of Marmalade – Stolen Girlfriend) sits up on the lead as always and finds plenty in the run home to withstand all threats. Back-to-back victories in Class 4 will now carry the well-tried galloper into Class 3 for the first time since 2017 when he began his career in Hong Kong. Exported after three wins in Australia for Philip Stokes as ‘One For One’.
Runner-up: BRIGHT KID was a drifting favourite but brave in defeat in attempting back-to-back wins himself after success at Happy Valley earlier in the month. The change of scenery with Chris So seems to have sparked the gelding’s interest again.
Run Of The Race: MALDIVES caught the eye with a very solid final bid from the tail of the field under Blake Shinn and sectionally well-proven there with a strong 22.50 the final 400m to be best in the field. On debut with David Hall this horse is straight into the black book. A $NZ65,000 yearling, the Burgundy three-year-old was prepared by Mick Price in Australia and exported after one trial. Step to 1400m looks super ideal.
Disappointment: RHAPSODY got handy early from the wide gate but those exertions took the toll and he faded out to finish well back at $4.20.
Comparison: Slightly under standard – winner rated perfectly in front by Alfie Chan.
Market Mover: HINYUEN SWIFTNESS $19.50 TO $11.00, RHAPSODY $8.30 to $3.90
RACE 6 SHA TIN PASS HANDICAP HK $967,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘B’ Course – Distance 1400m – Track Good
Time: 1:22.09 Standard Time: 1:22.15 Course/Class Record: 1:21.08
Winner: SUPERB DADDY (AUS 3yo g Tavistock – Mygoodgrace) shows immediate form in dropping from seven unplaced runs in Class 3 to grab victory in his Class 4 debut – proving how tough it can be in Class 3 and especially on arrival into Hong Kong with a race record offshore. He’d won two of four Australian starts at the Sunshine Coast as ‘Jarrow’ for Kacy Sugden, kicking off with 68 rating points. Powerful effort, nice ride Neil Callan, returning to Class 3 now the issue again?
Runner-up: SUPER RED DRAGON was pushed back at a vital stage, back and held up on heels on the corner and he burst to them wide out on the track like he’d win, coming up just short of success. An interesting move from Chris So, he’d lined the horse up on six consecutive occasions on the all-weather track and back to the turf for the first time since October 2019 here. At a low rating he’s going to win in either Class 4 or Class 5 at any stage and now well graded versus the winner.
Run Of The Race: SUPER RED DRAGON was outstanding, effort deserved a win. And SON OF MAKFI is the second horse in a row we highlight out of the David Hall stable and ridden by Blake Shinn to run home attractively from the rear of the field.
Disappointment: CIRCUIT NUMBER ONE lobbed handy but seemed to race a little too keenly. He drifted to finish well back. Better than that.
Comparison: Slightly under or around standard the normal today and no alteration here.
Market Mover: CIRCUIT NUMBER ONE $7.60 to $5.30, ALL TIMES GRATEFUL $48.90 to $33.70
RACE 7 TATE’S CAIRN HANDICAP HK $967,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘B’ Course – Distance 2000m – Track Good
Time: 2:01.89 Standard Time: 2:02.85 Course/Class Record: 2:01.62
Winner: BULLISH GLORY (IRE 7yo g Roderic O’Connor – Biz Bar) does not win often, just win two at start 36 in Hong Kong and his first at Sha Tin having won his first at Happy Valley. The Irish gelding won three from six in Italy for Stefano Botti and began his Hong Kong career back in 2017. It was a tough induction for him when straight into Class 2 so the Class 4 company obviously a lot more suitable these days. A big burst from rear and wide from the horse today, giving Karis Teetan a difficult ride in the process. Tony Cruz was initially the trainer, nowadays it’s Michael Chang.
Runner-up: GOOD DAYS got the rail run and dashed, looked home until the former appeared wide. Zac Purton had him saving petrol third line on the inner and gave the horse very chance. Now three times second in his last four starts for Danny Shum.
Run Of The Race: Winner BULLISH GLORY had to be good to win today. And KUNGFUMASTER PANDA did nice work late without being a threat.
Disappointment: MCMUNIGAL ran third but just a little less sparky today. Not a big horse and there was some hustle in this event at 2000m. Far from being dropped, just not his best effort.
Comparison: A second under standard and near class record level so an excellent contest which found a few out.
Market Mover: NATURAL STORM $4.30 to $3.60, GOOD DAYS $5.50 to $4.60
RACE 8 EAGLE’S NEST HANDICAP HK $1,450,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘B’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:08.94 Standard Time: 1:09.25 Course/Class Record: 1:08.32
Winner: BEAUTY AMIGO (IRE 5yo g Kodiac – Hurricane Emma) enjoyed the bite in the ground today. He’d relished a good to yielding track at Happy Valley to win on April 22 after rain and appreciated a slight give in the track again today. Leading all the way he gives apprentice Alfie Chan his second winner on the day. As we had suggested post his Happy Valley success he was a horse to follow on any track on the worse side of firm. Three wins from nine starts in Ireland before joining John Moore, the son of Kodiac has leapt to his best form since quitting Class 2 and will end up back in that class again.
Runner-up: FLYING SWORD was outstanding from rear few on the fence and plenty to do, took inside runs but was squeezed for a clear go until late. He really dashed the final 100m. Tony Cruz has just recently taking over the training of the Foxwedge gelding and looks improved. Big tote support suggested a very bold run. A moderate one win from 11 New Zealand starts before his arrival in Hong Kong.
Run Of The Race: FLYING SWORD produced the race-best 22.41 final 400m to make up all that ground.
Disappointment: $5.00 chance HANDSOME BO BO shared the speed and had his chance but the leader and winner kicked away from him.
Comparison: Quickly run under standard and based on other times on the day a very solid gallop.
Market Mover: BEAUTY AMIGO $11.10 to $7.20, FLYING SWORD $6.40 to $3.60
Kay Ying Star and Chad Schofield, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
RACE 9 THE LION ROCK TROPHY HANDICAP HK $3,250,000
Group 3 – Turf ‘B’ Course – Distance 1600m – Track Good
Time: 1:32.95 Standard Time: 1:33.75 Course/Class Record: 1:32.64
Winner: KAY YING STAR (GB 5yo g Cityscape – Casual Glance) did a big job in Great Britain winning three of just four starts and arrived as a horse of real potential in Hong Kong. Today was his day to shine, 10 of his past 12 starts in Group company and last time in Group 1 when he led in the Champions Mile a race remembered for the great battle between Southern Legend and Beauty Generation. There was no surrendering this time, ticking along strongly out in front and beautifully rated by Chad Schofield to hold the big challenge from Champions Mile champion SOUTHERN LEGEND. Just the two Class 2 victories previously in HK though super in minor placings on a number of occasions against the best of company.
Runner-up: SOUTHERN LEGEND really rattled home that final 150m and looked like he could get up and win, just failing. He gave 20lb in weight to the majority of the field and was fantastic again. Tries his heart out.
Run Of The Race: FAST MOST FURIOUS sizzled home like one of those Ferrari’s and if he’d not had to ease of heels at the 250m to get to the outside he likely wins the race. Beaten two short margins the performance of this horse was huge. His first ever attempt in Group company a success despite not winning, proving he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the middle-distance features next season, even as a rising eight-year-old. To date a four-win record having been sparingly raced.
Disappointment: BEAUTY LEGACY was backed into $3.00 but did not perform on the day, drawn out to make his run at the top of the straight but he did not let down.
Comparison: Just the 0.3 seconds outside record time and all plaudits to the winner who set that tempo and kicked best to get the chocolates.
Market Mover: SOUTHERN LEGEND $8.20 to $6.30
RACE 10 HUNG MUI KUK HANDICAP HK $1,450,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘B’ Course – Distance 1400m – Track Good
Time: 1:21.44 Standard Time: 1:21.85 Course/Class Record: 1:20.62
Winner: MARVEL DRAGON (AUS 4yo g Redoute’s Choice – Jeu de Cartes) was unbeaten in Australia, a promising horse then named ‘Alba Wings’ out of the Kris Lees stable. Since arriving in Hong Kong it’s not been so successful, six runs and a best of fourth last start on May 9. Nice lift back to his Australian form today, up to 1400m and ridden much handier than he has been. Outside leader he wore down PRIVATE ROCKET who set all the pace and mastered him then too strong to beat the fast finishes from others. No fluke, we’ve just seen this horse turn the corner in Hong Kong.
Runner-up: CRAIG’S STAR took up a trial third the fence from barrier two and surged strongly in the straight to go close. Just his fourth run in 2020 and after a little lean run since winning in October 2019 it was nice to see the form return – a talented horse when he’s in this form.
Run Of The Race: CIRCUIT GLORY was superb back and wide from wider draw and with 133lb thundering home strongly in a race-best 22.40 the final 400m. After winning five from seven starts in New Zealand as ‘Tavidream’ he arrived on a tough mark and continues to pay the price with the handicapper. Back in Class 3 he’s winning soon.
Disappointment: WAR ROOM was slow to begin from a nice low draw and never got in the contest. He did meet interference on more than one occasion so best to put a line through this run.
Comparison: Some four-tenths under standard and quite willing early.
Market Mover: WAR ROOM $7.60 to $5.50, CRAIG’S STAR $29.40 to $13.00
Fined: Chad Schofield (JOYFUL HEART) $7000 for weighing in 2lb overweight.
RACE 11 AMAH ROCK HANDICAP HK $2,100,000
Class 2 – Rating 100-80 - Turf ‘B’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:08.23 Standard Time: 1:08.90 Course/Class Record: 1:07.89
Winner: MR CROISSANT (NZ 4yo g Darci Brahma - Surreptitiously) had a tremendous career record and off a spell so dynamic fresh up. Beautiful ride Chad Schofield, a big day for him. Easing off the paint around the turn he had to battle with favourite and Joao Moreira for racing room 350m out and showed he’s in for the fight, never flinching in finally getting clear and away to win smartly. He’s a brother to New Zealand Group 1 winner Sahkee’s Soldier, also multiple Hong Kong sprint winner Dragon Master. A good end to a good day for trainer Chris So.
Runner-up: ALL IN MIND was a 2yo maiden winner for Mark Newnham in Sydney as ‘Deep Sea’ and has raced with distinction in Hong Kong since, now a win and four placings from eight starts. He dashed along the rail to look a possible winner, unable to hold out the big sprint from MR CROISSANT but very game in running right through the line.
Run Of The Race: ARMANDO performed to a good level in South Africa and debuts in impressive style here. Slow and well back he flew home to finish fourth and a tad unlucky not to grab third. The world looks his oyster in Hong Kong. SEVEN HEAVENS also very good from the rear, from 1000m to 1200m here and he’s a winner at either distance any time soon, going really well.
Disappointment: LUCKY EXPRESS certainly not disappointing but as the very hot commodity in the race first up in Hong Kong he was a little wayward in the home straight in running a brave third. As ‘Prince Of Sussex’ he’d won the $A250,000 Vobis Gold Rush and $950,000 Vobis Sires Showdown at Caulfield over a year ago and has not raced since. No less than 10 trials in Hong Kong after new trainer John Size urged caution not to rush him to the races.
Comparison: Really slick time to end the day, as the Class 2 horses often do.
Market Mover: LUCKY EXPRESS $3.10 to $2.10