The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Sha Tin on Sunday, November 22th, 2020:
RACE 1 SHAN KWONG ROAD PARK HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘B + 2’ Course – Distance 2000m – Track Good
Time: 2:00.67 Standard Time: 2:02.65 Course/Class Record: 2:01.62
Winner: FULL POWER (IRE 4yo g Frankel – Jaconda) led from barrier rise and never gave them a look in, smashing the class record in kicking away at the point of the turn under the in-form Neil Callan and far too good for the Class 4 stayers. The son of former champion Frankel was successful in March over 1600m his only other success, was safely held in three runs so far this season but undoubtedly appreciated the rise to 2000m today, simply showing them up and proving the best stayer. Not the cheapest horse to come from Europe, he was a 310,000 Euro sell at the French Yearling Sales in 2017, of course being by Frankel always a target for buyers. Richard Gibson will be searching the race programmes for another 2000m race for him.
Runner-up: FAMILY LEADER had the run of the race following the winner all the way and had one horse to run down in the straight, clearly unable to do so. But a game attempt from the Kiwi-bred by Makfi, his first try at 2000m or beyond for exactly 12 months. A winner first up this season at 1600m at Sha Tin he was previously successful at 1800m at Happy Valley in July 2019 when breaking his maiden status. Caspar Fownes has stuck solid with this horse, the type to find his groove in the staying contests and off a rating of 50 points he is poised to earn well in Class 4 for a little while to come.
Run Of The Race: KUNGFUMASTER PANDA was rather unlucky, the one notable to come out of the pack and chase down the front pair. Looking desperately for room at the top of the straight he had nowhere to go, rider Derek Leung having to wait a lot longer than he had hoped to clear traffic. Not his fault, a nice ride, back on the fence then into the middle coming to the turn, he was simply unlucky not to get a go earlier. That is three handy runs from this horse 1660m, 1800m now 2000m for Paul O’Sullivan. Winning comes soon.
Disappointment: Based on the support that came for him SMART COUSIN was poor, sat fifth or sixth and one-off doing no work but failed to fire when produced.
Comparison: Unbelievable time. Smashes the class record by a second. Track must be lightning.
Market Mover: FAMILY LEADER $5.60 to $3.50
RACE 2 MORSE PARK HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘B + 2’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:08.46 Standard Time: 1:09.25 Course/Class Record: 1:08.45
Winner: HARMONY N BLESSED (AUS 4yo g Magnus – Fly To Win) coasts home to win – as he was expected to a week or so ago at Happy Valley. But, he knocked his big head on the starting gates that night and was withdrawn. Quick compensation for his connections, a brilliant leap out of the starting gates to lead, controlled all the tempo and booted away when asked by a confident Blake Shinn who really didn’t have to urge him along too much to put a fair gap on the field. A horse that obviously shows plenty of ability, he’s won several trials very impressively on the dirt tracks in Hong Kong and was always expected to be a winner when he stepped out on race day. David Hayes has a team of horses building up strongly and this horse quite the smart one to have in his armoury. Looks a cheap yearling, $A60,000 at the Melbourne Premier.
Runner-up: EVERYONE’S DELIGHT proved the fence is so on today, he was the one who got the best trip trailing the favourite and leader and he did best of the rest. He showed good ability winning first up on October 1 and was made to look second rate behind the winner today. That really proves how good the winner is. Tracking him three-deep the fence was outsider FIRE BALL who was clearly third best. After two races at two very differing distances it appears the hot lane is in front and on the rail today.
Run Of The Race: One horse affair. HARMONY N BLESSED made them all look a class below him, a dominant victory.
Disappointment: Not the effort that was disappointing, which was actually very good, but punters poured the money on CHARITY GRACE over the early then late stages of betting and he couldn’t come up with an answer as the favourite blasted to an easy win. A must follow that horse.
Comparison: Very quick, the barest 0.01 outside the record speed and he could have easily broken that record by a margin had Blake Shinn released the brakes. Track had been immediately upgraded to ‘Good to Firm’ after Race One.
Market Mover: HARMONY N BLESSED $2.80 to $2.50
RACE 3 THE JOCKEY CLUB MILE HK $4,500,000
Group 2 - Turf ‘B + 2’ Course – Distance 1600m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:32.91 Standard Time: 1:33.50 Course/Class Record: 1:32.64
Winner: GOLDEN SIXTY (AUS 5yo g Medaglia d’Oro – Gaudeamus) is the best of the best in Hong Kong right now and this simply another exclamation mark on that point. He gave the front pair their chance today, was off pace and they got a lovely run in front but his brilliance again to be marvelled at, once Vincent Hoy said go the race over in three strides when he looked for one fleeting moment to have a wee bit of work to do. That is win 13 from start 14, beaten just the once in the fourth start of his career, now chalking up 10 straight and onto the biggest of them all, the Hong Kong Mile on International day where the world’s best will converge on Sha Tin. Francis Lui must be thrilled with the plan moving forward to that day. This horse is comfortably good enough to beat whatever they put in front of him.
Runner-up: KA YING STAR got his own terms in front and in most cases that means he wins. But he had to again bow to the champ, not unusual of course. Nice ride Chad Schofield, he gave it his best shot and they were simply undone by a superstar.
Run Of The Race: GOLDEN SIXTY is a long way ahead of the opposition these days. Full marks to Vincent Ho, he rides the horse with real confidence in his ability and never panics.
Disappointment: MIGHTY GIANT was a touch off his peak today. He has done a mighty job down in the grades and his day will come. This breaks a five-race winning streak, though not unexpected, of course.
Comparison: Well under standard and well rated in front by Schofield, the tempo perfect.
Market Mover: KA YING STAR $11.20 to $9.90
RACE 4 KOWLOON TSAI PARK HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘B + 2’ Course – Distance 1400m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:21.53 Standard Time: 1:21.85 Course/Class Record: 1:20.80
Winner: HALL OF CHAMP (GB 4yo g Dark Angel – Cadenza) was superb, and so too his jockey Jerry Chau who showed experience beyond his years in guiding the gelding through gaps from some way back on the fence. Chau copped a suspension for causing interference in tight quarters, but we all like the fact he’s brave – they have to be. The pair dived through and looked to have come up short at the 100m but a very late lunge again at the line saw them home, spectacular win from the Hong Kong maiden who was having his eleventh start for David Hall today. A well-performed horse in the UK winning two from four, he arrived in Class 3 and that initiation a tough one last season, but the turnaround in seasons has proved the trick, running a bold second first up at 1400m and going one better here. Breakneck speed up-front as the jockeys all searched for the hot spot on the pace, this was set up for this horse and others swooping from the back.
Runner-up: SPEED FAY FAY was fantastic, back last and ridden along to stay in touch with them early and last at the home turn he picked a path through the middle of the pack and flew home when into the clear, a massive run. Class ride from Chad Schofield, he nearly pulled off an absolute beauty. Going very well this one, rated to win again at any stage for Benno Yung.
Run Of The Race: SPEED FAY FAY wonderful, and a real eye-catcher was FORTUNE MASTER at 35/1, well back, checked when finding gaps from the home turn and darting home, then ran out of room late in the piece. Could easily have won or gone much closer with some clear space. WINWIN THIRTYTHREE was also strong, back and then wide, sustained finish out widest on the track. SPEED FAY FAY ran 23.56 from last (400m to winning post) and leader FORZA ANGEL 26.99 the same section when fading, a huge difference.
Disappointment: WONDER EXPRESS was disappointed for a clear crack at them when needed and after looking best placed here from gate one and soft trip on the fence it turned pear-shaped after easing outward looking for space. Alexis Badel would like that one back.
Comparison: They ran three-tenths under standard but the pace was in the race for the first half, not the back half. A real rush to try and get the handy sit on the speed and that burnt them all. The first five in the running were the last five home!
Market Mover: GALACTIC $21.00 to $14.70, WONDER EXPRESS $9.30 to $6.10
Suspended: Jerry Chau (HALL OF CHAMP) for interference at the 150m mark, Dec 9 to Dec 14, two days.
RACE 5 THE JOCKEY CLUB SPRINT HK $4,500,000
Group 2 - Turf ‘B + 2’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:08.00 Standard Time: 1:08.40 Course/Class Record: 1:07.50
Winner: HOT KING PRAWN (AUS 6yo g Denman – De Chorus) was simply wonderful and had to be. Barrier five quickly became a problem as Joao Moreira soon found himself three-wide and in a sot where he couldn’t really go forward or back, certainly not inwards, so was trapped out there for the entire race, never ideal when the Group horses are pinging along. A no panic ride, and great performance from the grey to dominate them in the end, quite arrogant how he sided up alongside the leaders at the 300m and went clear off this wide trip. This would be his career best performance, his biggest, and certainly his bravest as he makes it 11 victories from 21 starts and around $HK 27 million in stakes. Surprising really to see his last win was back in March, though he had been beaten into minor placings in just four starts since then and all at Group level. Wonderful horse who does John Size proud every time.
Runner-up: Race favourite COMPUTER PATCH shared the pace and kicked back very strongly, did have the edge on the winner with a better run in transit but could not match his quality late. An exceptionally good horse, one just wonders if that flying 1000m up the straight is his pet trip and not the 1200m. That will be answered at a later date but seems more obvious right now.
Run Of The Race: RATTAN fantastic from last, still there on the turn and came very wide to fly home, another 100 yards and he is winning this. He won the G2 Sprint Cup back in April 2019 and has had mixed results at Group level since but his ability never in question, over $HK 18 million in the bank before today. Big, big sectionals in race-best splits from 800m to 400m and 400m to winning post.
Disappointment: More disappointed for a really clear go at them and that was costly. And that horse being VOYAGE WARRIOR who was sitting pretty on the corner, found some traffic issues in the dash home and was very strong again the final 100m. Should have gone close.
Comparison: Great time, they have this track in superb condition leading into the International meeting.
Market Mover: VOYAGE WARRIOR $14.70 to $7.60
RACE 6 VICTORIA PARK HANDICAP HK $2,200,000
Class 2 – Rating 100-80 - Turf ‘B + 2’ Course – Distance 1800m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:46.35 Standard Time: 1:46.85 Course/Class Record: 1:45.88
Winner: WINNING DELIGHT (AUS 5yo g Sebring – Raise) secures win three from start 10 in a quality performance, coming from the outside barrier and Joao Moreira quickly opting to ease right back from there, second to last in running soon after and with plenty to do. He worked into the race beautifully off the corner and showed too much class for these, a big bold sprint with some in hand apparently. Wonderful return to the track having been last seen race day in March, a good break at Conghua and the preparatory work done there before a very slick trial last month at Happy Valley. On his way to better things. A maiden winner in Victoria for Darren Weir before export he was a $A250,000 yearling and out of Group 3 winning mare.
Runner-up: ENJOYING very strong, wide without any cover and never closer than three deep he had to do all the hard work out there on this quick track and relinquished the lead to a quality horse in the end. This a career-best performance in Hong Kong, eight starts had never revealed this kind of effort, in fact he had been poor in three starts already this season running tenth on each occasion, though to be fair he kicked off over 1000m immediately to 1650m then to 1800m so fitness is definitely starting to kick in. As we know he is a quality galloper when right, took the Group 2 Caulfield Autumn Classic and G2 Alistair Clark Stakes double for the Maher-Eustace stables as ‘Global Exchange’ before his export out of Australia. Douglas Whyte has him awfully close to the mark now. He was found to have substantial blood in the trachea afterward.
Run Of The Race: WINNING DELIGHT a fair way ahead of the pack. Notable effort from PACKING WALTHAM, very strong through the line as he was first up and ready to win for Tony Cruz. Just two starts here to date after winning three from four starts in France from 1800m to 2000m, one at listed level. Smart type.
Disappointment: RIGHTEOUS DOCTRINE was a tad plain the final 250m after getting a run into it on the coat tails of those out wide. He may need his favourite all-weather track again.
Comparison: An exact half-second under standard cementing the fact this track is perfect given they stopped to a walk after 400m.
Market Mover: RELIABLE TEAM $26.00 to $16.00, WINNING DELIGHT $6.90 to $4.30
RACE 7 THE JOCKEY CLUB CUP HK $4,500,000
Group 2 - Turf ‘B + 2’ Course – Distance 2000m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:59.32 Standard Time: 2:00.55 Course/Class Record: 1:59.30
Winner: FURORE (NZ 6yo g Pierro – Stormy Choice) is rather lethal at the minute, a super duper win in the Group 3 Ladies Purse at 1800m at the beginning of the month, into bigger success here taking the Jockey Club Cup and beating Hong Kong’s premier stayer EXULTANT in the process. A big turnaround in fortunes for him, he was never really able to get an edge over his more famous stablemate last season but has furnished into a very handy stayer, Tony Cruz holding all the cards right now and this pair simply dominate the longer distance races. Cruz would recommission free-rolling leader Time Warp today and he set the terms of the contest, suiting this guy as he sat in the trail and waited, sprung off the inside rapidly n the turn to clear heels and soon had his stablemates covered. A while since his great deeds as the winner of the Hong Kong Derby in 2019 - he is well and truly back to that standard now.
Runner-up: EXULTANT game as anything, you would expect nothing less. He was chasing a little earlier than maybe Zac wanted given Time Warp poured the speed on as they headed off the back straight and that little burst may have been a killer, though the winner had his measure today. Third up next time and we will see the great stayer really dig into his work.
Run Of The Race: COLUMBUS COUNTY ran on like a horse not fazed by a lot, they ran record pace and he picked up the field apart from the top pair and they do not come any better than them. Very handy horse.
Disappointment: If you said disappointing maybe the favourite EXULTANT was on face value but realistically, he has got some improvement to come in him and peaking towards those big goals – next month being a major.
Comparison: A mere 0.02 outside the record, super strong run set by Time Warp, as expected.
Market Mover: FURORE $3.40 to $2.40
RACE 8 HONG KONG PARK HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘B + 2’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:08.59 Standard Time: 1:09.05 Course/Class Record: 1:08.31
Winner: RACING FIGHTER (NZ 6yo g Mastercraftsman – Comme Tu Veux) improves a tonne of three quite average efforts this season and was even tried on the all-weather track last time around on October 18 without success. A huge step forward in effort today, outside leader and pushing the issue in another quickly-run race, poked his neck his front at the 200m and held a strong return bid from leader MIGHT VALOR at the line to hold a nose decision. He has been a solid performer without being special, took a Group 2 placing in New Zealand before he arrived without a win, copped a decent penalty for that with a starting rating of 78 points. He has never been close to a Class 4 drop, done all his racing in Class 3 and Class 2 so a good warrior he has been. Reward comes for turning up for the fight every time.
Runner-up: MIGHTY VALOR sped along on top as he loves to do, clearly headed at the 200m and perhaps done but his bounce back attempt was wonderful, nearly drawing back a clear margin to win, failing by a very slender nose margin at the line. He blitzed them first up for the season at this track and distance on October 11 in Class 4, takes his first step forward into Class 3 here and handles it well. He did have an 11lb pull in the weights against the winner so a points decision to the former. Gate 11 today and wee bit of petrol used early. When he draws close to rail and leads he will win again very soon.
Run Of The Race: SUPER FOOTBALL was the eye catcher. His first start in Hong Kong for Jimmy Ting after being bought out of New Zealand as a seven-start maiden, yet three times placed in good company and not far away at Group level. He has a good pedigree and was initially owned by the Inner Mongolia Horse Ltd when trained by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman. Settling back and charging home late today he will be very popular with punters moving forward. Went around at $122 here, will be less than 10 per cent of that price next start.
Disappointment: KA YING MASTER had the best run in the race tracking the leader, looked for a run 350m out and seemed to be travelling but was off the bit and chasing in a gap the final furlong. Based on where the winners were coming from today he had a run to be desired.
Comparison: Just the usual today, around that half-second better than standard in a race of good tempo set by a genuine leader in MIGHTY VALOR.
Market Mover: KA YING MASTER $11.50 to $7.50, SAVAQUIN $23.00 to $15.00
RACE 9 KOWLOON PARK HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘B + 2’ Course – Distance 1400m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:21.11 Standard Time: 1:21.65 Course/Class Record: 1:20.62
Winner: HEZA BEAUTY (NZ 4yo g Darci Brahma – Myback) continues a brilliant march forward this season, four starts and now two wins and two second placings since returning to the track on October 1. And he needed to be good again, but in his corner a red-hot Neil Callan who wins them on a broomstick right now. Surging finish to grab quite a comfortable victory in the end, Callan happy to let him sit rearward on the fence and seemingly too far away at the turn. But this response from the son of Darci Brahma was quite electric, once asked to get to the outside and run it was all over. He’s a beauty, all right. Close to Class 2, he will be extremely dangerous in a jump in grade at the low end of the weight scale. Callan copped a suspension for that quick outward movement at the top of the straight.
Runner-up: BEAUTY SMILE is steadily finding his way back to his best Irish form, the son of Free Eagle took two wins, one at listed level whilst placing in in Group 3 company at Leopardstown a year ago before making his way across the ocean to Hong Kong. A tough mark on 80 points to begin with, and his best of five starts to date in a nice lift second up this season. Trainer Tony Cruz opted to take a few pounds off his back and use apprentice Jerry Chau, that certainly an aid not only in weight, but riding ability, he’s hit his straps, Jerry.
Run Of The Race: HEZA BEAUTY great, PRESIDENT’S CHOICE very strong from well back into fifth and how about EQUILETTA BLITZ, the import from NZ was left standing and 15-lengths last at the hop, tagged along and was quite terrific in the end. He ran sections of 21.01 when the field ran 21.70’s, the 22.15 when they were rating 22.80’s, and home in 23.09 bettered only by – Heza Beauty and President’s Choice. LUCKY PATCH must also get a mention, he was three-wide without cover the trip and super in kicking so strongly into third. He is a quality horse making noises.
Disappointment: TAKING AIM was expected to be right in this, was doing perhaps too much early from a wide gate but settled nicely in third and there to pounce. He did not fire and faded out.
Comparison: Again, a full half second under standard as the club gets this track to the stage of perfection for International day.
Market Mover: EQUALETTA BLITZ $21.20 to $12.80
Suspended: Neil Callan (HEZA BEAUTY) causing interference at the 450m mark – two days, Dec 16 to Dec 21.
RACE 10 PENFOLD PARK HANDICAP HK $2,200,000
Class 2 – Rating 100-80 - Turf ‘B + 2’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:08.14 Standard Time: 1:08.65 Course/Class Record: 1:07.89
Winner: WINNING DREAMER (NZ 4yo g Deep Field – Markisa) wins his fifth from five starts and if rider Vincent Ho is rightfully excited about superstar galloper Golden Sixty then those levels are rising rapidly about the fortunes of this horse. Another great example of the absolute quality Deep Field offers as a sire. He leaves a quality looking animal that shows class and toughness. This horse personifies that, he is not only very quick, but he is incredibly determined to win and that is why he is unbeaten - he just wants to win. Vincent let him loaf into it today, never actually asked him to go until the furlong and the response scarily good. He did get a lovely trip in transit however he is just better than them. The march to the perfect six is on.
Runner-up: DUKE WAI is a horse we have not seen a lot of in the past few months, but he is a really, really smart horse. He won four on end for Paul O’Sullivan between November 2019 and January 2020, finished his season in March and returned to the track in November. Sixth and running on smartly first up over 1000m, he relished that run under the belt and an extra furlong today, darting home with one of the best runs of the day to chase a very good horse home. Right on track to win third up, it will take a good one to hold him out. Back early and picking runs after the turn he was very impressive.
Run Of The Race: DUKE WAI (22.48) was brilliant, and we put ALL IN MIND in all the black books given he darted home with some lovely purpose in his effort. WINNING DREAMER home in 22.44 and he is machine, this horse got home in 22.46 so a fine comparison to make. Taken on in front BEAUTY APPLAUSE was game in holding third money.
Disappointment: No disappointments here, a great race and some real quality runs which will turn to gold as the next few weeks go by.
Comparison: Very quick, when the good horses start nudging near the 1:07’s it’s a quick race and these Class 2 horses are powerful beasts capable of that.
Market Mover: SUNNY BOY $137.00 to $54.00, ALL IN MIND $23.00 to $14.70
Golden Sixty and Vincent Ho, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club