Hong Kong


Copartner Prance makes it four in a row for Francis Lui

Francis Lui’s relentless push for the 2023/24 Hong Kong trainers’ championship continued at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (15 May) when Copartner Prance extended his winning streak to four with victory in the Class 3 Seine Handicap (1200m).

Ridden patiently by Zac Purton after an early speed battle, Copartner Partner nabbed pacemaker California Touch in the last few strides to boost Lui’s tally of wins for the campaign to 55 – only three shy of Pierre Ng’s 58 with 16 meetings left in the season.

“He’s a nice and honest horse. He chases and keeps going,” Lui said of Copartner Prance. “I thought he’d got beaten because he was carrying a big weight this time, but he’s a good horse. Maybe he can go to Sha Tin, but it all depends on the best programme for him.”

Francis Lui and Zac Purton following the win of Copartner Prance, photo Hong Kong Jockey Club

Purton, who also scored on Jamie Richards-trained To Infinity, was impressed by Copartner Prance’s effort to carry 132lb in edging out California Touch (120lb).

“Very brave to carry the weight, the pace was on all of the way which actually helped him a little bit,” Purton said. “He couldn’t sprint quickly under the weight tonight, he needed to build up and the fast speed with the leader taking off allowed him to get through his gears and get out after him and chase him.

“It took him all of the way but he got there on the line – the horse has done a good job.”

To Infinity returned to winning form with a vengeance for Jamie Richards, landing the Class 5 Rhone Handicap (1650m) under a cool ride from Purton by five and a half lengths.

“It’s nice to get a winner,” Richards said after notching his 26th win for the term. “He just got things to suit him strongly. He’s a good, honest sort of horse. He’s not the best horse in the world, but he’s consistent and he tries hard and he’s a pleasure to have in the stable.”

Camino returned to racing in perfect fashion for Caspar Fownes to claim the Class 4 Rhine Handicap (1000m) under Vincent Ho. Sidelined with leg issues since June, 2023, the Charm Spirit gelding justified Fownes’ patience.

“It’s extremely satisfying whenever you have a horse that’s out for nearly a year with a tendon injury. We took our time with him to bring him back and then had a splint as well so it’s very rewarding to get that result,” Fownes said.

“You need owners that are patient because we know the horse has got some level of ability and he’ll be even better suited when he gets to 1200 (metres). We’re just very happy to get a win with him because he’s been off a long time.”

Luke Ferraris snapped a 72-ride run of outs with Mark Newnham-trained Setanta’s last-to-first triumph in the first section of the Class 4 Ciron Handicap (1650m) to take his season haul to 22 wins.

“Mark had him in superb condition and he needed to be from where he came from,” Ferraris said. “We had a bit of a sticky draw (barrier eight) and I didn’t anticipate other horses from the outside digging up as hard as they did, so they put us in an awkward spot, but they ran a tempo to suit and he picked up accordingly.”

Ferraris, 22, amassed a career-high 35 wins in 2022/23 but has found this season challenging.

“The support dropped off terribly midway through the season,” the South African said. “A few trainers I thought I would get a lot more rides for, I just haven’t had a ride for. Big thanks to Mark, he’s supported me for the whole season, it’s good to reward him.”

Ricky Yiu consolidated third placing in the Hong Kong trainers’ championship when Sweet Diamond finished powerfully under Alexis Badel to triumph in the Class 4 Sauternes Cup Handicap (1200m) before Tony Cruz struck and Angus Chung with Prime Mortar in the Class 4 Garonne Handicap (1200m).

Flamingo Trillion made it two course and distance wins in succession with success in the Class 3 Loire Handicap (1800m) for Frankie Lor, leading all the way under Derek Leung as David Hall and Hugh Bowman extended a fruitful partnership, notching their 11th win from 41 starts this season, when Timestorm broke through for his first win in the Class 5 Dordogne Handicap (1200m).

Michael Chang’s Big Red edged out I Can to claim a deserved victory in the second section of the Ciron Handicap (1650m) under Ellis Wong. With five top-four placings from his previous 12 starts, the Starcraft gelding provided Chang with his 13th win of the campaign.

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday