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The Davis Files - Sha Tin review

The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Sha Tin on Sunday, May 15th, 2022 

Race 1 – Somerset Handicap, HK 780,000

Class 5 – Turf – Distance 1200m - Track Good to Yielding
Time: 1:11.09 Standard Time: 1:09.70 Course/Class record: 1:08.64 Iron King 

Winner: UNIVERSAL CROWN (AUS 5yo g Hallowed Crown – Only She Can) jumped well from barrier four and was up running on the pace in the opening stages, with Lyle Hewitson eventually working his way to the lead as they turned off the back straight. He was caught wide heading into the turn and eventually worked his way across to the inside, keeping the field running as they swung into the straight. He was travelling comfortably turning for home, with Hewitson sticking toward the inside while his main rival went right to the outside fence in search of better ground. He remained in front right down the home straight and stuck on gamely from the front, extending his margin over the final 100m to win impressively by 2 lengths.

Runner-Up: VECTOR wasn’t the quickest away, but with the aid of an inside draw, Alex Badel was able to improve along the inside to settle on the leader’s back as they turned off the back straight. He enjoyed a cosy run through the middle stages, racing comfortably behind the leader as they turned for home. He remained in the leader’s slipstream on straightening, but he never made any ground on the leader right down the straight, just holding his position and grinding away to run into second place.

Run Of The Race: UNIVERSAL CROWN found the front and never looked back passing the 800m point, partnered by a perfect ride by Lyle Hewitson who is becoming known for producing a great front-running ride. He was far too strong over the concluding stages, and off the back of this effort there’s no reason why he can’t feature up in grade next start.

Disappointment: TOWARDS SUCCESS got away only fairly, but was able to slice his way through the field in the early stages under Matthew Chadwick. He never seemed comfortable in the going and was under the whip a long way from home, failing to respond to the urgings of Chadwick. He eventually finished in last place, beaten 18-1/2 lengths, with Chadwick telling steward’s he believed the gelding did not handle the surface.

Comparison: Over a second outside standard.
Market Mover: G ONE EXCELLENT and VECTOR both had support late in betting.

Race 2 – Norfolk Handicap, HK $780,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1600m - Track Good to Yielding
Time: 1:36.26 Standard Time: 1:34.65 Course/Class record: 1:33.78 Morethanlucky

Winner: CHEERY (AUS 3yo g Artie Schiller – Flying Tilly) was a touch slow away from the outside draw, with Derek Leung easing the gelding behind runners shortly after the jump. Leung slid across to land just worse than midfield once fully into stride, with the pace quite good as they worked down the back straight. He peeled three-wide around the turn and had a lovely cart turning for home, with Leung coming out toward the centre of the track. It was great riding by Leung, who only used the whip once in the finish, riding under hands and heels to take the lead with a furlong to run. The gelding pulled away over the final stages to win comfortably by 1-1/4 lengths.

Runner-Up: DRAGON PRIDE wasn’t the quickest away and found himself a touch worse than midfield on settling down, crossing to settle along the rail. He travelled comfortably through the event, sitting on the inside of the eventual winner. The five-year-old lost a touch of ground on the turn, being held up from the 700m to the 500m where he was sitting in behind runners and unable to improve. Zac Purton was able to work his way to the outside as they swung into the straight, getting out to what was believed to be the better going beyond the centre of the track. He took it right up to the winner early in the straight, but he couldn’t go on in the final furlong, with the winner drawing away to win, whilst third was a further 2-1/4 lengths behind. 

Run Of The Race: CHEERY was far too strong over the concluding stages, handling the going best to pull away over the concluding stages to win very nicely. It was the gelding’s first win in Hong Kong, with it also being his first win over 1600m. The 4YO Series is a long way away, but he’s already ticked a major box if they were to go down that path with this gelding.

Disappointment: CELESTIAL WARRIOR used the inside barrier to his advantage to settle on the leader’s back on settling down. He travelled comfortably through the middle stages, but failed to respond to Vincent Ho when asked for an effort. He was disappointing in the run home, eventually finishing in 8th place, 5-1/2 lengths off the winner. 

Comparison: Well outside standard.
Market Mover: FREE FOAL and CELESTIAL WARRIOR were the best backed runners late in betting.

Race 3 – Alnwick Handicap, HK $2,400,000

Class 2 – Turf – Distance 1600m - Track Good to Yielding
Time: 1:35.51 Standard Time: 1:34.20 Course/Class record: 1:32.96 Not Usual Talent

Winner: THE ROCK (GB 6yo g Dutch Art – Barynya) was a touch slow away from gate 3, but was pushed along by Blake Shinn out of the barriers to go forward and find the lead very easily. Once he got to the front, Shinn began to dictate proceedings, although the pace was still quite good through the middle stages. He pinched a break with 600m to run, and was travelling much better than his rivals as they turned into the straight. The Australian hoop worked his way past the centre point of the track, finding the better going as the six-year-old stuck on gamely. He was a sitting duck for most of the straight, but he was able to hold off all challengers and get the job done by a neck, leading from start to finish.

Runner-Up: CALIFORNIA TEN and RUNNING GLORY couldn’t be separated at the finish, hitting the line locked together to dead heat for second place.

CALIFORNIA TEN got away well from the outside draw, but was left racing wide and without cover throughout the event, settling midfield under Karis Teetan. He had to do it the hard way throughout and he was under the pump a long way from home, but he stuck on bravely down the straight with Teetan coming right out toward the outside rail in the straight. He was game in the straight, finishing in second place.

RUNNING GLORY was the slowest away from the barriers and settled toward the tail of the field under Alex Badel. He raced three-wide on the back of California Ten throughout the race, tracking him around the turn before peeling off his back turning for home. Badel came right out to the outside running rail and made good ground over the final 150m to hit the line locked together with California Ten.

Run Of The Race: CALIFORNIA TEN was very impressive, racing wide without cover throughout the race and still being right there at the finish, only going down by a neck. It was a brilliant effort and if he can repeat this effort with a good draw next start, who knows what could happen.

Disappointment: CHARITY GRACE settled near the rear of the field under Matthew Chadwick, and looked to be travelling fairly through the middle stages. He came under pressure with 600m to run and Chadwick was already yielding the whip on straightening, with the gelding only battling away in the straight. He finished in last place, but was only beaten 3-1/2 lengths.

Comparison: Well outside standard, but much faster than the Class 4, 1600m event the race prior.
Market Mover: CHARITY GRACE was the one punters honed in on just prior to the start.

Race 4 – Suffolk Handicap, HK $780,000

Class 5 – Turf - Distance 1400m - Track Good to Yielding
Time: 1:23.63 Standard Time: 1:21.95 Course/Class record: 1:21.53 Exponents

Winner: MISSION SMART (AUS 5yo g Smart Missile – High Above) got away fairly from a wide alley and mustered good speed under Blake Shinn who pushed forward and eventually slotted into the running line with 1000m to run. He was sitting just off the pace in the one-out-one-back position, with the gelding travelling comfortably on the turn before Shinn peeled out deeper on the track with 550m to run. As he had done all day, the Australian hoop went right to the outside part of the track on straightening and had hit the front in doing so and was in front by a couple of lengths with a furlong to run. There were a couple of rivals coming at him late in the piece, but the five-year-old was too good, winning by a neck on the line.

Runner-Up: ROYAL AGILITY jumped on terms from gate 6 with Karis Teetan trying to work his way into a trailing position early in the race, but they were unable to slot in and were forced to race wide and without cover turning off the back. He remained without cover around the turn, sitting about midfield through the middle stages, and only obtained cover momentarily as they turned for the finish. Like Shinn, Teetan drifted wide on the track to be the widest in the straight, sitting one off the grandstand rail down the stretch. Despite the tough effort, he was still able to get within a neck of the winner in a gutsy performance.

Run Of The Race: ROYAL AGILITY turned in a massive performance, finishing a close second after racing three-wide and without cover for essentially the entire event. He’s worth following up wherever he heads next.

Disappointment: WONDERFUL FANTASY raced four-wide without cover throughout the 1400m journey and had nothing left in the tank when Alex Lai pushed the button on straightening. He plugged his way down the straight to finish 9-3/4 lengths off the winner in 11th place.

Comparison: Outside standard.
Market Mover: ERNEST FEELING had support, as did GALLANT CAVALIER at double figure odds.

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

Class 4 – All Weather - Distance 1200m - Track Wet Slow
Time: 1:09.20 Standard Time: 1:09.80 Course/Class record: 1:08.14 Happy Tour

Winner: WISDOM PATCH (AUS 6yo g Snitzel – Willow Creek) broke well under Matthew Chadwick, and with plenty of pace drawn inside him, the pair were able to slide across and settle midfield and one off the fence. He pushed his mount along to cross to the rail turning off the back straight, still sitting midfield around the turn before Chadwick worked off the rail to improve between horses with 600m to run. The gaps opened up beautifully for the six-year-old on straightening, with Chadwick able to build his momentum around the turn and find clear air at the top of the straight. The big gelding didn’t exactly quicken when asked, but he stuck on gamely down the stretch to eat into the leader’s margin, doing his best work over the final 100m. He put in some big strides late in the race to get his head in front close to the line, getting the win narrowly at the line.

Runner-Up: PROSPEROUS WIN jumped well and was up running on the pace early on, but was cast wide and without cover as they began making the turn. Ruan Maia began building into the race on the turn, scooting around the outside of the leaders and building plenty of momentum turning for home. He was pushed out four-wide, but had taken the lead early in the straight. The tough run may have just cost him  in the final stages, with the four-year-old just tiring in the dying stages and couldn’t hold off the winner who came lunging at him late.
Run Of The Race: PROSPEROUS WIN was very impressive in his debut effort, racing wide and without cover throughout the run and only going down by a head. It was a bold effort, and he was ridden well by Maia despite the wide run in transit. It appears the only way is up with this four-year-old.

Disappointment: SUNSET WATCH settled on the outside of the eventual winner in the run under Blake Shinn, and looked as though he was building into the race nicely with 500m left to travel. He swung out toward the centre of the track on straightening, but the run was short lived as the gelding began weakening with 200m to run. He fell back through the field to finish in 10th place, beaten 6-1/4 lengths.

Comparison: Well inside standard.
Market Mover: Punters came for FIERY DIAMOND who jumped a $4.10 favourite.

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

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good to Yielding
Time: 1:10.31 Standard Time: 1:09.10 Course/Class record: 1:08.40 Master Eight

Winner: ACE ONE (AUS 4yo g Shamus Award – Stellana) jumped well off the inside barrier and showed good pace to hold his position under Ruan Maia, finding the leader’s back on settling down. The pace was good through the middle stages and the four-year-old had the perfect run in behind the leader, popping off heels at the top of the straight and coming toward the centre of the course. He took the lead with 250m to run and never looked back, being eased down over the final stages to win comfortably by a length in a brilliant performance.

Runner-Up: AUGUST MOON was actually one of the first to leave the barriers from a wide alley, but was taken back by Derek Leung down the back straight, slotting into the running line just worse than midfield as they turned off the back. He travelled comfortably in the middle stages, with Leung improving three-wide with cover passing the 600m point. He continued heading toward the outside of the track, ending up beyond halfway on straightening as the gelding made good ground down the stretch. The winner was too good, but there is plenty of merit in this guy’s effort.

Run Of The Race: ACE ONE had the race pan out perfectly for him, finding a brilliant position in the run and was able to get to the better going without any hassles. He was far too good today, and he can repeat the dose should he rise in class next start.

Disappointment: WOODIFRE BRO jumped on terms and was ridden up by Zac Purton to settle outside the leader. He travelled into the straight nicely, but had nothing to offer when Purton pushed the button with 400m to run. The gelding was disappointing in his run home, finishing 5-1/4 lengths away in 8th place. Purton reported to stewards that the gelding was making an abnormal breathing noise, but a veterinary examination post-race failed to find any abnormality.

Comparison: Outside standard.
Market Mover: FORTUNE CARRIER was heavily backed late in proceedings.

Race 7 – Kent Handicap, HK $1,040,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1400m - Track Good to Yielding
Time: 1:23.08 Standard Time: 1:21.75 Course/Class record: 1:20.80 Perfect Pair 

Winner: SPARKY STAR (NZ 6yo g O’Reilly – Lady Chaparral) got away on terms from an outside draw, but was taken back to settle toward the tail of the field under Harry Bentley. The pace was good turning off the back, but slowed around the turn which forced the field to bunch with 500m to run. At this point they began fanning across the track, allowing Bentley to improve his position turning for home. He was still 4-1/2 lengths off the leader passing the 400m point, with Bentley following the majority of the field to the outside fence early in the straight. The six-year-old relished the deteriorating conditions and sprinted quickly to take the lead with a furlong to run. He continued on his merry way, stretching his margin over the final stages to win impressively by 2-1/2 lengths.

Runner-Up: CIRCUIT MIGHTY was away fairly from the inside barrier and was pushed along by Alfred Chan to hold his position along the inside, settling on the leader’s back as they began making the turn. He travelled comfortably around the turn, with Chan coming away from the rail with 600m to run as he began working his way to the outside part of the track. He was under pressure on straightening, but the gelding quickened nicely to hold the lead momentarily with 250m to run. The winner blew him out of the water, but it was a great effort to run into second position.

Run Of The Race: SPARKY STAR had been threatening to do something like he did today for some time now. He hadn’t finished worse than fifth this season, and had the blinkers reapplied today after a disappointing effort most recently. He was ridden brilliantly by Harry Bentley, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can continue to win from here.

Disappointment: COURAGEOUS KNIGHT travelled between runners in the second half of the field in running after being away only fairly under Matthew Chadwick. He didn’t have the cleanest of runs, but appeared to be travelling well as they turned for home, although when asked for an effort he did not respond. He was very plain in the straight and finished a long way back in 13th place, but a veterinary exam did not find any abnormality.
Comparison: Well outside standard.

Market Mover: VITRALITE was backed off the map, with ALL RICHES being supported as well as CIRCUIT MIGHTY at double figures.

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

Class 3 – All Weather - Distance 1200m - Track Wet Slow
Time: 1:08.64 Standard Time: 1:08.60 Course/Class record: 1:07.40 Dehere’s The Love

Winner: TORONADO PHANTOM (FR 4yo g Toronado – Hathfa) got away with the field from barrier four, but drifted back under Zac Purton as is his usual racing pattern. He settled in the second half of the field, but he was never too far off the leader, and even found himself closer than usual with 500m to go, bring midfield and only two-to-three lengths off the lead. Purton was held up slightly at the top of the straight which allowed the leaders to get away from him a touch, but the flashy grey wound up well to grind down the leader inside the final 100m and get his head in front to win by a neck under the big weight.

Runner-Up: RESOLUTE got away well off the inside and was pushed along in the early stages by Dylan Mo to try and hold his position. It looked as though he’d settle about midfield, but he was able to improve onto the back of the leader as they turned off the back, and was forced to push off heels with his mount racing quite strongly in the middle stages. He tracked into the race very nicely and had ranged up to take the lead as they turned for home, kicking about a length clear with 200m to run. The winner came off his back in the straight, and despite Mo’s best efforts, he was unable to hold him off in the final few bounds and was forced to settle for second place.

Run Of The Race: TORONADO PHANTOM had looked a promising gelding earlier this season, but had become a bit hit-and-miss around Happy Valley of late. Getting back to Sha Tin may have helped him with a longer straight to wind up, and it’ll be interesting to see what John Size does with him next.

Disappointment: JAZZ ANGEL got away on terms and was able to race with cover throughout, albeit three-wide. Blake Shinn had him tracking well through the middle stages, and gave him every conceivable chance as they worked around the field turning for home. He built the momentum and had clear galloping room throughout, but the favoured runner began to weaken passing the 200m pole and finished well back in 9th place, beaten 4-1/2 lengths. Shinn told stewards he believed the race was not run to suit Jazz Angel, with a veterinary examination failing to reveal any abnormality.

Comparison: Just a hair outside standard.
Market Mover: RESOLUTE had plenty of support, with BEAUTY CHAMP and SPONTANEOUS also backed.

Race 9 – Devon Handicap, HK $1,570,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1400m - Track Good to Yielding
Time: 1:22.92 Standard Time: 1:21.45 Course/Class record: 1:20.62 Preciousship

Winner: ESCAPE ROUTE (IRE 4yo g Dandy Man – Elaysa) jumped on terms from the outside barrier, but drifted back under Karis Teetan to settle toward the rear od the field. The pace began to slow around the turn, prompting horses to improve three-wide which allowed Teetan to work into the race with cover. The Mauritian jockey was way off the track as they turned for home, but that didn’t matter as he went to the extreme outside of the track. The four-year-old sprinted brilliantly down the outside grandstand to take the lead with 150m to run and pulled away over the concluding stages to win by three-quarters of a length in great fashion.

Runner-Up: KEEFY was one of the quickest into stride, but was left racing wide in the early going as Vincent Ho initially looked to ease back and slot into the running line shortly after the jump. Ho quickly changed his mind and went forward once more, eventually settling on the outside of the leader as they turned off the back. He travelled well around the turn and was already a half-length in front as they entered the straight. Ho worked his way toward the better ground on the outside of the track and still held the lead with a furlong to run, but the winner stormed down the extreme outside and proved much too good. He stuck on well to hold down second position, but he showed there’s enough to work with going forward.

Run Of The Race: ESCAPE ROUTE was far too good today, with Karis Teetan getting right out toward the grandstand rail to power home. It was a very smart ride by Teetan who got to the best part of the track, and the gelding didn’t let him down. 

Disappointment: SUPER TEN appeared to be racing in a perfect position throughout the race and looked a huge chance as they turned into the straight, but when Lyle Hewitson placed the gelding under pressure he failed to let down. He weakened badly down the stretch, finishing 14-1/2 lengths off the win with Hewitson telling stewards he did not handle the conditions.

Comparison: Not far outside the standard.
Market Mover: KEEFY had plenty of fans, as did SECRET VISION at double figure odds.

Race 10 – Cornwall Handicap, HK $1,570,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good to Yielding
Time: 1:10.30 Standard Time: 1:08.90 Course/Class record: 1:08.28 Reve Parisien

Winner: BRILLIANT WAY (NZ 3yo g Reliable Man – Third Rate Romance) got away brilliantly from barrier 10, avoiding all the trouble at the start and showing good pace to settle in second position on the outside of the leader. The pace was good throughout the run, with the grey gelding doing things quite easily through the middle of the race. He may not have been all that comfortable on the deteriorating surface, shifting ground a number of times when Alex Badel placed him under pressure turning for home. He was about a neck away with 200m to run, but was inching closer with every stride. He eventually took control with 50m to run and drew away impressively in the final few strides to win by three-quarters of a length in great fashion.

Runner-Up: REVE PARISIEN was another who was lucky to avoid a messy start, showing good muster to get to the lead from barrier 6 and cross down to the inside. He was able to slow the pace a touch around the turn before ramping up the pace once more turning into the straight. He was travelling brilliantly as they swung for home, getting right to the outside of the track down the stretch. He held the lead gamely for much of the straight, but just ran out of gas with 50m to run. The winner inched clear to win nicely, but third was a further 1-1/2 lengths behind him. He showed his last start was no fluke and he definitely didn’t lose any admirers.

Run Of The Race: BRILLIANT WAY showed plenty of grit and determination to ground down the leader, before pulling away in the closing stages of the race. It was a fantastic effort, and he can definitely go on with the job now.

Disappointment: FLYING SEASON opened the gates himself as he lunged at them at the start, but the opening came at almost the same time as the rest of the field. Connections inquired whether the gelding could be declared a non-runner, but the stewards believed the gelding had been afforded a fair start. He settled well back in the run and never got into the race at any stage, just plugging away down the straight to finish 6-3/4 lengths away in 9th position.

Comparison: Way outside standard.
Market Mover: KAI XIN DRAGON was tried late in betting.

Blake Shinn signals the win with The Rock, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club

 

 

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