The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, September 16th, 2020:
RACE 1 TIU KENG LENG HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:39.03 Standard Time: 1:40.10 Course/Class Record: 1:38.83
Winner: ALL YOU KNOW (IRE 6yo g Dark Angel – Marseille Express) puts a win on the board for Richard Gibson and in doing so ended a long drought after being last successful in November, 2018. The Irish-bred never ran in the first three in nine starts last season, the last six in Class 4, though progressively eased in weight, leading to tonight’s victory fresh up with 124lb. Three wins now in Hong Kong, all over 1650m at Happy Valley so he found his sweet spot again tonight at his favoured trip under an in-form Karis Teetan. He’s going to stay in Class 4 and will be no doubt found again in Class 4 on this track. Seemed to thrive off the very quick tempo.
Runner-up: PLAY WISE was another searching for form to have benefitted from the break between seasons. He’d last run tenth this track and trip in June, a decent trial September 1 and further improvement into this. Swept to the lead to win on the corner and had to bow to the better finish late. Good sign for him to win one soon, just two from 35 to date, both at 1650m at Happy Valley.
Run Of The Race: TELECOM ROCKET did early work and the only one to survive that battle, his effort to keep running on was a good one given the final breakdown of the race. EXALTATION ran the fastest final 800m to come from last to fourth, a decent effort.
Disappointment: FOCUS started favourite but over-raced early in the war for the front - he was to offer nothing when the pressure went on. Barrier trials and vetting to prove fitness before next racing.
Comparison: Red-hot start to the night, a good battle for the front really did set this up, just two-tenths outside the record indicates the track is in grand order tonight.
Market Mover: TELECOM ROCKET $5.70 to $5.00
RACE 2 HANG HAU HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.02 Standard Time: 1:09.65 Course/Class Record: 1:08.68
Winner: SHAMPORT (AUS 6yo g Sharmadal – Port Providence) had a great season in 2019-2020 and immediately gets that form on the board in his first start for the new term. He won three of 11 starts last season for Caspar Fownes, all at 1200m around Happy Valley, Joao Moreira the man on board when he won fresh up in September 2019, and again tonight. He did strike a weaker Class 3 here, not a stunning field, but his performance really sharp and he did all needed sitting third the outer and too good for free-rolling leader Mig Energy. He won a $150,000 race at Caulfield for Darren Weir before export.
Runner-up: MIG ENERGY was allowed to cruise under his own pace by Zac Purton and looked very hard to catch on the corner, only to bow to Shamport over the concluding stages. The frustrating run of misses in Hong Kong continues, the former Moonee Valley winner yet to salute in eight starts. But it will come, he seems to have bounced off a break in the right form to find his way back to the victory circle soon.
Run Of The Race: LE TERROIR did some lovely work wide out from second-last, never carried into the race when it was needed so the effort to reel in many lengths a good one. A big late betting plunge came unstuck.
Disappointment: Nothing of note, they all performed well enough based on the way the race was run.
Comparison: Another good time, well under standard. Leader MIG ENERGY did stretch his legs so no real surprise it showed that on the clock.
Market Mover: LE TERROIR $6.30 to $2.80
Caspar Fownes, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
RACE 3 TSEUNG KWAN O HANDICAP HK $750,000
Class 5 – Rating 40-0 - Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:10.34 Standard Time: 1:10.35 Course/Class Record: 1:09.73
Winner: APOLLO’S BOW (AUS 5yo g Hussonet – Starred For Life) was the centre of a huge betting plunge and they have landed some huge bets, the Hussonet gelding from $29 into $9.30 at the jump. A big turnaround given he had already had a run last week on this track over 1000m and well and truly peaked on his run. Up in trip to the 1200m and able to dictate terms the tide really turned. Chad Schofield leapt him out of the gates to lead and they never surrendered. Just a $40,000 in Australia, he had not finished closer than ninth in seven previous starts in Hong Kong so this was a major turnaround in all facets in winning for trainer Me Tsui.
Runner-up: VITAL SPRING was great. A huge finish wide out after being well off the pace and shoved very wide on the turn. He matches an excellent run first up last season when he won over 1400m at Sha Tin. Not a lot of success since but good signs for an improvers season from him despite his now veteran status as an eight-year-old.
Run Of The Race: VITAL SPRING had much more to do than some others and clearly usurped them on the night. SPICY REALLY was one to catch the eye late and a horse to watch. SWEETLY BABY was luckless, a forgive run.
Disappointment: TIGERLAD was well favoured with no weight and a good gate but after trailing the speed did not give a kick. He’ll need to improve a lot from this.
Comparison: Smack bang on standard, and a little unusual given the track was running well unders in the previous two races. This suggests Chad Schofield rated this winner to perfection.
Market Mover: APOLLO’S BOW $29.10 to $9.30
RACE 4 YAU TONG HANDICAP HK $750,000
Class 5 – Rating 40-0 - Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:40.23 Standard Time: 1:40.30 Course/Class Record: 1:39.11
Winner: V CHEVALIERS (NZ 6yo g Ocean Park – Screen Siren) enters the Manfred Man stable and is an immediate hit, the very talented but injury-plagued gelding seemingly in a really good place right now and simply too classy for the Class 5 horses tonight. Given the perfect trip by champion rider Joao Moreira he was put under pressure coming to the corner when WONDERFUL TIGER took off for home after a dashing mid-race move. Once balanced and shown the line he fired away for Joao and bolted home in the end. His first win but it won’t be his last.
Runner-up: VIRTUS STAR is another to have promised something last season but never really fired the shots expected. Still winless in now 20 starts he’s on a very low rating of 20 points and will remain in Class 5 for some time to come. That is ironically going to pay dividends for his connections, there is some earning to be had in this grade for this horse. Powerful bid from well back from the son of Sebring after being unable to utilise gate one, a slow beginning.
Run Of The Race: VIRTUS STAR from the rear and WONDEFUL TIGER who over-raced then swept around them to lead were equally as good off different styles of rides.
Disappointment: TREASURE CHEST was well backed, a comfortable run outside leader but gone well before the turn. After winning first up for the season, JOY MASTER may have had to go a furlong sooner when the moves came but he had his chance and the weight certainly stopped his momentum earlier tonight.
Comparison: Slowly run until WONDERFUL TIGER added some much-needed impetus into the race and set them alight at the 600m mark.
Market Mover: TREASURE CHEST $10.40 to $7.20, VIRTUS STAR $6.00 to $4.60
RACE 5 LEI YUE MUN HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:39.87 Standard Time: 1:39.80 Course/Class Record: 1:38.61
Winner: LIGHTNING STEED (AUS 6yo g California Dane – Deal Or No Deal) had a pipe-opener on Sept 9 when he returned off a brief break perhaps needed as he found significant improvement off that run in leading throughout here, kicking off the bend to win very easily. He was allowed his own rules in rather a tame affair, but all credit to rider Matthew Chadwick who dictated the terms to perfection. That’s three wins from his last five starts under the guidance of Caspar Fownes from a low rating of 43 last season now pushing his way well beyond 60 points. Good gutsy horse this, where is his ceiling?
Runner-up: JOLLY HONOUR was given every chance in the trail by Zac Purton, all he really needed was some more pressure on the leader from other runners. Nice comeback run from the Kiwi-bred 6yo, he’d finished 11th in his last two runs last season and floundering somewhat but this is a good bounce back for Me Tsui who has his team firing early this season. This horse won twice last season, both at tonight’s distance of 1650m.
Run Of The Race: MATTHEW CHADWICK gets the top award here, his ride was too cagey for the rest and he used the comfortable 120lb weight to full advantage. TANGMERE worthy of a mention, fastest from 1200m to winning post in each of last three sectionals from last to run sixth in a walk and sprint event.
Disappointment: Favourite SMILING CITY was disappointed for the desired run, posted three-deep and too far off a slow speed. Vagner Borges seemed reticent to use the horse mid-race to gain a handier position and paid the price for that despite the horse running on strongly into fourth. He’ll win again really soon. Borges reprimanded.
Comparison: Slowly-run early again, and they just never got cracking until the winner ramped things up just before the corner.
Market Mover: JOLLY HONOUR $7.90 to $5.60, LONDON LUCKYSTAR $16.60 to $10.50.
RACE 6 PO LAM HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.23 Standard Time: 1:09.90 Course/Class Record: 1:08.92
Winner: HERCULES (AUS 5yo g Medaglia d’Oro – Soul Mama) finally breaks through in start 16 in Hong Kong, a long wait for the former two-time Australian winner as ‘D’Grammy’ for Ciaron Maher and David Eustace. Zac Purton was brilliant, tricky spot from a wide gate tonight and he guided the horse into fourth the outer one-off with no fuss, a stunning ride. There to swoop when the time was right the horse easily good enough top put them away tonight. A relatively tough initiation in Class 3 off that winning form in Australia, he now finds his feet in a grade that suits him.
Runner-up: LUCKY QUALITY followed Hercules up into the race around the bend and was just as easily second. A solid performance from the horse now four times placed from eight starts. Caspar Fownes tried him at 1650m in his final run last season – that didn’t work – so he was back to 1200m tonight – that seemed to work.
Run Of The Race: JADE THEATRE was terrific from last, had little chance to make his mark after settling in the last pair but after cutting the corner really darted home strongly to finish third. A horse that has spent time in Class 2 he must win his race very soon in Class 4. INCANTO PREPARED also signalled he’s close to winning for the John Size stable with strong work into fourth.
Disappointment: VICTORY IN HAND was outside the leader and there to pounce but did not fire with plenty of tote support going his way. Karis Teetan said the horse was under pressure before the home turn.
Comparison: Strong early, and it got even faster with mid-race pressure so no surprise to see them pushing seven-tenths under the standard.
Market Mover: VICTORY IN HAND $11.00 to $7.40
RACE 7 PO LAM HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:10.25 Standard Time: 1:09.90 Course/Class Record: 1:08.92
Winner: SUPREME PLUS (AUS 5yo g Nicconi – Torrini) goes back-to-back winning at the back end of last season at this venue in Class 5 off a rating of 36, and jumps to Class 4 and wins again which is not always the way it rolls for Class 5 winners. The son of sprinting sire Nicconi was zero from 18 starts, now two from 20. Good work from Frankie Lor to find the necessary improvement in the horse. Karis Teetan is the man for the job right now, another terrific ride one-out-one-back from the Mauritian who sits in a three-way tie at the top on eight wins with none other than Zac Purton and Joao Moreira.
Runner-up: HAPPY GOOD GUYS set all the terms and kicked strongly to hold second, edging out the hot favourite who had the drop on him all the way. Set a very slow time so we see how this form pans out in the next start or two.
Run Of The Race: DAILY BEAUTY was the one to shine against the grain as they walked in front and sprinted a basic 250m. To come from near-last to dash into fourth was excellent work from the 1650m winner at the end of last season. Up in distance and he’s going to be very hard to beat.
Disappointment: SELL MY SOLE had every opportunity as the $1.60 favourite, trailed leader HAPPY GOOD GUYS and couldn’t run past him, let alone the winner. Punters left reeling there.
Comparison: Very slow, for a 1200m race it was a canter
Market Mover: SUPREME PLUS $15.90 to $10.10, ORIENTAL ELITE $25.80 to $14.50
RACE 8 CHA KWO LING HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1000m – Track Good
Time: 0:56.78 Standard Time: 0:56.85 Course/Class Record: 0:56.11
Winner: GREEN AEON (AUS 5yo g Snitzel – Berengaria) won two of his three starts in Australia for Bjorn Baker in Sydney and was a horse expected to do things well in Hong Kong. He seemed a bit at sea in his debut here in June and now Caspar Fownes has been able to add the extra polish he’s up and away, a sparkling victory here in what should be the first of a few. Encouraging to see him happy off-pace and firing home. A very slow start settling second-last dictated that, Moreira never to panic. Class 2 awaits him, a light weight in that class will certainly worry his opposition. Wins were 1200m and 1400m in Australia so Fownes has further room to manoeuvre.
Runner-up: SAUL’S SPECIAL may have won, a stride or two where he had to find his right leg perhaps enough to stop him dashing through to win. Undone by a very good run from the winner. A nice way to start the season, winless in 2019-2020 and a better horse than that. Wins one quickly this season.
Run Of The Race: GREEN AEON terrific to come from a position like he did to win with 130lb was race-best. ETERNAL HARVEST lost few friends, only those who were on him and didn’t get a result. Nice late work from him after missing the kick.
Disappointment: NEXTMODEL appeared not to back up that well after scorching over to lead, as he did last week. Tough for the sprinters to go week-by-week and he will be better for a freshen up and a good draw next time around. Worked hard enough, the 21.23 middle section swift enough.
Comparison: Under standard in what became a battle to the line, those who ran hard early were found wanting in the straight.
Market Mover: HEART CONQUERED $16.60 to $8.20, GREEN AEON $6.80 to $5.00
Green Aeon, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club