High Rev could be a plum ride for one of the star riders at the LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship fixture after sealing a double for his trainer and jockey with another impressive display at Happy Valley on Wednesday.
“The next run might be the jockeys’ series race on 4 December, an 1800-metre Class 2 here at the Valley. He’s in really good form and let’s hope he’s not done with yet,” trainer David Hall said.
“He’s a very well-bred horse so how far in distance he can get we’re going to explore yet but I’m sure he’ll get a lot further than 1650 (metres).”
The exciting five-year-old made it two wins on the trot under a confident Zac Purton in the Class 3 Jaffe Handicap (1650m). The champion jockey made a wide move down the back straight that took him from second-last and cruising to fourth and rolling at the turn for home.
“I said to David, I wasn’t going to take off tonight but I wasn’t going to be six lengths off them turning for home; I wanted to just track up and join in and do it when I wanted to do it and the horse did it. He’s a nice horse; he’s a stayer so he could easily continue on with what he’s doing,” Purton said of the 1.7 favourite.
High Rev (130lb) was always in command down the home straight and passed the post three quarters of a length clear of runner-up Charizard (127lb) in a time of 1m 39.88s.
“He’s done his job, it’s not easy to do, the track’s probably running pretty fast off the front; he’s had to come from well back, do all the work three deep, cart the field up and get the job done,” Hall said.
“It’s great to have Zac on in those sorts of races. He knows the horse really well now; he knows what he had underneath him and what he could get away with. You wouldn’t want to do that on every horse but he knows his job.”
High Rev impresses again under Zac Purton, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
The trainer was delighted with the progress the late-maturing son of G1 Australian Oaks heroine Invest has shown since late last season. Including a six and three-quarter-length score to round off that term – at his 11th start – High Rev has bagged three wins from his last four races.
“He was a real monkey before he was gelded and he was doing so many things wrong but you could see he had the talent,” Hall said. “He wasn’t switching on in the mind at all and we changed a couple things; being gelded kicked in and being ridden quietly he was able to find his rhythm and he really started to show what he can do.”
The Fastnet Rock gelding’s win took him to 30 points and equal top in the ongoing DBS x Manulife Million Challenge competition, which concludes on 26 February.
“He’s got a few points now in the Million Challenge too so we’ll stick to the Valley and see how he goes in his next one,” Hall added.
Hall and Purton teamed earlier on the card with Mr Picasso in section one of the Class 4 Harbour Handicap (1200m).
Mr Picasso (133lb) has been an honest servant to owner Allen Shi and the Hong Kong International Sale graduate picked up his fourth career win at his 30th outing.
The Exceed And Excel gelding topped the weights, having dropped down from Class 3, and benefitted from gate 2 and the services of Zac Purton to land the spoils by a neck from the fast-finishing Master Albert (117lb).
“He’s been running close enough in Class 3 for us to know he was going to be hard to beat; he’s been here before in these circumstances, with a big weight and Zac on, and he got the job done previously,” Hall said of the 3.3 favourite.
“He’s getting older but he was cherry-ripe for tonight and he got his win. There’s not much left in him so tonight was his night, I think.”
Glory for Chang and Moreira
Bullish Glory (118lb) arrived in Hong Kong from Italy with some smart form in the bag. But that was three years ago and in the time since he has fallen winless from a rating of 75 to a mark in the mid-40s.
That long blank streak ended tonight though, thanks to a late charge under Joao Moreira to mug runner-up Dionysus Collins (114lb) by a neck in the Class 4 Gloucester Handicap (1800m).
“He won a Group 2 in Italy and finished fourth in the Derby there and today the 1800 metres was a little bit short for him,” trainer Michael Chang said.
“Next time, I’ll talk to Joao, and probably step him up to 2200 metres here at the end of the month.”
Bullish Glory breaks his long losing run, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
The Roderic O’Connor gelding, a half-brother to G1 winner and G2 Italian Derby hero Biz The Nurse, raced 18 times for Tony Cruz before switching to the Chang stable last term.
“He’s a nervous horse, he always sweats, he has some issues with his joints and he’s not consistent in the barrier, sometimes he rears up at the start, but I think this season he’s a little bit more mature and settled,” the handler said.
“Mentally, he’s stirred up so I give him plenty work to take the edge off him. When he’s tired, he calms down and you can teach him manners.”
Moreira snared a double when he drove Dancing Fighter’s (119lb) head down right on the line to deny Yoo Yoo King (133lb) in the concluding Class 3 O’Brien Handicap (1200m). The Caspar Fownes-trained winner sports the black and red colours of Hong Kong actor and pop star Aaron Kwok.
Gentle Breeze has now won three of his last four races after striding two and three quarter lengths clear of his rivals in the Class 3 Lockhart Handicap (1000m).
“It was a big race, he was still quite well-handicapped by the looks of it so hopefully he doesn't go up too many points,” jockey Matthew Chadwick said of the Ricky Yiu-trained five-year-old.
Play To Win was the evening’s longshot winner. Benno Yung’s charge lifted late for jockey Derek Leung to take section 3 of the Class 4 Harbour Handicap (1200m) at odds of 55/1.
Neil Callan got the job done on another old-timer, the David Ferraris-trained Kiram, in the Class 4 LAWASIA Cup Handicap (1650m). The eight-year-old enjoyed a sweet run from gate one, tracking the leader, and galloped unchecked for a game rail-running third win at his 57th start.
Wonderful Tiger took 28 runs to nail his first Hong Kong win but the Chris So-trained five-year-old made it two on the bounce at start 29. Karis Teetan produced the 12/1 shot from the tail with a relentless wide run down the straight to land the Class 5 Fleming Handicap (1650m).
What A legend broke his maiden at the ninth attempt with a comfortable two and a quarter-length score in the opener, section two of the Class 4 Harbour Handicap (1200m). The win took Umberto Rispoli to three for the term and put trainer Jimmy Ting on nine.
Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Saturday, 9 November.
Neil Callan gets his fourth win of the season on Kiram, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club