Hong Kong


The Davis Files - Happy Valley review

The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, November 18th, 2020:

Class 5 – Rating 40-0 - Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good 
Time: 1:09.80   Standard Time: 1:10.35   Course/Class Record: 1:09.73

Winner: MASTER GALAXY (NZ 5yo g Align – Stark Galaxy) leads throughout to take a comprehensive victory to open the night, champion rider Joao Moreira dictating all the terms and never giving the opposition a chance. A good bounce back for the Me Tsui trained gelding who was placed first up this season in a good lift in form but was poor second up after sharing the pace at Sha Tin on October 4. A good six weeks since and Tsui has turned things around, much more positive in his endeavours here now no longer a maiden after 11 starts across 16 months. He will go close to a class rise off this win but should soon find his place in Class 5 again, a good place for him to earn.
Runner-up: GALAXY EMPEROR got home well from sixth in transit, well off them half-way through the run but resolute in his effort to run on strongly and take the runner-up spot. Still a maiden after 14 starts but a much more consistent formline from him this season for Tony Cruz after finding his way into Class 5 at the back end of last term. Now third, fifth, fourth, and second in four runs since resuming on September 13 so his turn to win in the grade must come at short notice. 
Run Of The Race: WELL DRAGON gave them a big start and did well to run fifth at 26/1, making up plenty of ground to be two-lengths from the winner at the line in running a race-best 23.02 from 400m to winning post. Now nine starts without any success he could be a lot closer to a decent result for Chris So.
Disappointment: YEE CHEONG LUCKY had a good run fourth and was there to strike well before the corner but failed to run on, quite disappointing. 
Comparison: Sharp start to the night a half-second under the standard so a good indication the track is up for good times all night. 
Market Mover: GREAT HARVEST $11.90 to $9.20
Suspended: K H Chan (GREAT HARVEST) careless riding at the 50m mark – two race days.

Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1650m – Track Good 
Time: 1:40.32   Standard Time: 1:40.10   Course/Class Record: 1:38.83

Winner: SUNNY LAD (GB 4yo g Sepoy – Mini Mosa) sat off them and had to be resolute in his finish in getting the job well in his tenth start in Hong Kong, a losing streak of nine was worrying for Tony Cruz but the duck is now broken. He had won two of three starts for leading UK trainer John Godsen, one on the poly and one on the turf so he is no duffer, it has taken time for him to show that here. In fact it had been a slow start in Hong Kong, a last start seventh his best finish in those nine starts so time was beginning to run out. In his defence a tough initiation in Class 3 and perhaps he will be a horse who will find his best place in Class 4 and work on his form at that level.
Runner-up: SHANGHAI GRACE shared the speed kicked to the lead 700m from home and looked the one, run down late. Another UK import with nine unplaced runs on his formline before tonight so another good result for his connections to put something positive on the board. He won three from 12 in the UK and all were on the poly-track so a look at the all-weather track may well come soon under the guidance of trainer Me Tsui. A tidy lift in effort from this horse who is obviously capable. 
Run Of The Race: With work to do both SWEETLY BABY and CHARITY WINGS were really good, they had to dart up in some pretty tidy sections from 800m to 400m to make their way into the race then kicked hard again to fight on bravely in finishing third and fourth respectively. 
Disappointment: FAITHFUL TRINITY and RIGHT HONOURABLE went around as the two favourites but neither could do a lot here, the former handy fifth and shuffled up losing his chance to win it, the latter middle and never really a threat without all the luck in the world, maybe an excuse for him. KING’S HORN was vetted and substantial blood found in the trachea. 
Comparison: Outside standard at the longer distance in a race of mixed tempo and no surprise to see a slower time. 
Market Mover: SWEETLY BABY $11.80 to $6.90
Suspended & Fined: C Y Ho (SWEETLY BABY) careless riding at the 700m mark. $30,000 and two days.

Class 5 – Rating 40-0 - Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good 
Time: 1:10.10   Standard Time: 1:10.35   Course/Class Record: 1:09.73

Winner: STRATHCLYDE (AUS 7yo g Toorak Toff – Lady’s Light) was a big betting plunge at long odds and won like an even money hope in the end, a big turnaround in fortune for the seven-year-old who had not won since October 2017. Two starts back this season resulting in an 11th and a 14th finish at odds of 55/1 – tonight backed from $25.00 to $10.00. He was third up off the spell here and was 1200m fresh back to 1000m second up, up to the 1200m again here so no real reason to believe he was aided by a switch in trip, or track. Tonight’s draw was perhaps the reason punters had some confidence, into gate two after drawing eight and twelve in his two starts prior. A real lift in effort, a smart win from the horse who last saluted over three years ago.
Runner-up: KA FORTUNE chased well, sat handy to the pace and gave it a good crack in the straight but the winner was away and gone after drawing off the leaders heels on the turn. A 9lb pull in the weights for the winner also a factor but in the end this guy was always going to run second. Yet to win in now 12 starts in Hong Kong he is so close, two starts two second placings this season in Class 5 and he should be a next up winner in the grade, though he may need a run in Class 4 again to drop a point or two.
Run Of The Race: GREEN ENVY is not an easy horse to ride and tonight Antoine Hamelin handled that task well, a tough one for the pair from a wide gate and things never really went right, he raced awkwardly as he can do and made the job a little tougher. In the end an excellent performance to keep running on so strongly into third money. He deserves a win, that is 13 starts without one now and well overdue but he must break through in Class 5, he is better than this class. 
Disappointment: APOLLO’S BOW was tackled in front but he was one of the first beaten and a disappointing result for the well-favoured runner here. Also, a bit bland was VITAL SPRING but an awfully slow start from gate one was his downfall, okay late in the piece. 
Comparison: A shade under standard and good to see them breaking that barrier again after a few slower nights of late. 
Market Mover: STRATHCLYDE $25.80 to $10.00

Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1650m – Track Good 
Time: 1:39.85   Standard Time: 1:40.10   Course/Class Record: 1:38.83

Winner: FAST PACE (AUS 5yo g Savabeel – Caesour’s Promise) is another to break through and win his maiden on the programme tonight, that’s four races resulting in three maiden victories and another who hadn’t won in over three years. This horse was showing signs of improvement, twice fifth in three runs to start the season and quite strong to the line at Sha Tin on November 1 at 1400m so the 1650m at the Valley stacked up quite well for him tonight. Leading trainer Caspar Fownes has had to play the patient game, the horse was sold for $HK 3 million at the International Sale in March of 2019 and a month later he came up with a tendon injury and was off the track for 12 months. Good to see connections getting the rewards after a long wait. Middle outer and wide at the 500m he outstayed favourite INCANTO PREPARED who swept even wider from last as the pair went head-for-head down the straight. 
Runner-up: INCANTO PREPARED was great tonight, a big sweeping run right around the field form the 600m saw him hit the lead and look the winner at the 200m but peaking very late on his sprint the former kicked a little the stronger to get the win. This horse neve runs a bad race, found winning form three starts ago on this track at this distance and followed that with a super fourth from a mile back on November 8 at this same track and trip. Deserved to win tonight – he should next time around. 
Run Of The Race: INCANTO PREPARED awesome, and V CHEVALIERS was also excellent, a long way back sharing last with the former and he scooted home strongly closer to the rail to run third. Twice a winner already this season he is in hot form, all at 1650m at Happy Valley which indicates where he will head next! The first three home all clearly superior off the clock to the remainder of the field. 
Disappointment: LUCKY MISSILE took quite some time to get in from three-deep after jumping a little slowly and once he did get in one-off the sprint was about to start. He could not get going from that point of the race and ran a disappointing second last.
Comparison: Strongly run and again that shows on the clock. Track is perfect tonight. 
Market Mover: V CHEVALIERS $9.00 to $5.90

Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1000m – Track Good 
Time: 0:56.98   Standard Time: 0:57.15   Course/Class Record: 0:56.39

Winner: WILD WEST WING (AUS 4yo Exceed And Excel – Thump) just too quick for these and in the end he second-rated them under Joao Moreira. Speedy out of the machine he was soon in front after a short tussle to find the fence, dictated from that point and booted away in very similar fashion tot hat of his October 14 win here at this track and trip. John Size is getting the benefits of an acclimatisation period for this horse, he struggled in five starts last season after arriving as an expensive yearling purchase in Australia, through the ring for $A750,000. Mum was of course a star in her time, winning the Surround Stakes, Silver Shadow, Champagne Stakes, and Triscay Stakes all at Group level for trainer Kris Lees. An excellent start to his second campaign in finding that family ability, now five starts for two wins and three placings as he knocks on the door of Class 3.
Runner-up: U W BROTHER nothing but game, a brave attempt in chasing a faster horse after beginning well from the inside slot in gate two. Pleasing effort for a horse who has spent some time in Class 5 and off the back of a victory in the low-grade last time around a bold performance first up in Class 4 again. He’s no superstar this fellow but he gives of his best and tonight proved he can match it to at least a rating in the 40’s. Only a start or two away from Class 5 drop and he will be a hot commodity if he sneaks back into that grade.
Run Of The Race: ARDENODE was three-wide midfield all the way and gallant in defeat in running fourth. A horse who never seems to have a lot of luck in his races, tonight another example of that. WAYFOONG CHARMER settled a little too far back to be a threat, particularly given the way the leader and winner was galloping, but a tidy effort from him inside the final 600m to pick up a few places and run sixth. He clocked the best final 400m split in the field, just ahead of OVERSUBSCRIBED who never went around a horse after sitting four-fence, running on well into third. 
Disappointment: CARRY THE DIAMOND was used from the widest gate to be outside the speed, there coming towards the turn but soon folded running second to last. Disappointing at 5/1. Vetted, no findings.
Comparison: Another slipping under standard time, they seemed to steady once Joao took full control and it developed into just a sprint home from the turn to winning post. 
Market Mover: WAYFOONG CHARMER $23.80 to $14.00

Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good 
Time: 1:10.16   Standard Time: 1:09.90   Course/Class Record: 1:08.92

Winner: SPRINT FORWARD (AUS 5yo g Lope de Vega – Macarthur Park) gains a somewhat overdue victory, at least a nice step forward again after running second in his previous two starts as the form continues to improve under the guidance of a returning trainer David Hayes. Nicely ridden by Jerry Chau, quiet on him early after jumping quickly soon fourth the outer but flushed three-deep when positions altered after 400m. Chau was patient, never moved until he needed to and kept enough in the locker to loom up and strike the front, holding well. He was busy last season when in the John Moore stable, 14 starts resulting in a win and five placings. Now 22 starts into his career he will likely leave Class 4 for the first time as he hits the 60-point rating for the first time in his career. An honest horse he may struggle in Class 3 but a light weight in that grade and a good draw and you never know.
Runner-up: SMART CHARADE ran a huge race, a conspicuous last and still back there at the 450m, he swept right around the field to be about seven wide at the 300m and he sustained that big finish to grab second money. He nudges two years since last winning, that coming on December 9, 2018 at Sha Tin over 1400m. A couple of good hints of better form this season, twice running on strongly from the rear into fourth position so not a shock to see him going so well here. 
Run Of The Race: SMART CHARADE was head and shoulders the pick of them given his effort to sweep past all but one from last. Also back and wide and making a wide run was DAILY BEAUTY who gave another hint he will be winning soon in running on soundly into third. On past form a step up in trip looks likely to suit him. 
Disappointment: WON BALL was a loose $5.00 favourite and did not threaten after getting back of midfield, however a bit luckless witching course in the straight. 
Comparison: Outside standard, they ran along early then pulled up through the middle once they settled. 
Market Mover: SMART CHARADE $16.30 to $10.40, FANTASTIC FABIO $11.10 to $7.20

Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good 
Time: 1:09.34   Standard Time: 1:09.65   Course/Class Record: 1:08.68

Winner: MIG ENERGY (AUS 5yo g Redoute’s Choice – Hifalutin) was rather due in terms of success. There had been a few excuses for him among a mixed bag of form, tonight an alteration in tactics working the oracle as the former Moonee Valley winner gets on the board in Hong Kong. Apprentice Jerry Chau had him back in midfield or slightly worse, even, and that was a real change up from racing right up on the speed which had become his normal pattern. Chau tucked him in on the fence, saved the energy for later, a winning move as the son of champion sire Redoute’s Choice cracks it in start 12 for Tony Cruz. He has had some post-race vetting issues and some average racing luck at times, so good to see the former Brent Stanley-trained gelding make his mark in HK. 
Runner-up: BEAUTY SPARK gained pass marks without being a threat in two runs off a spell, this one third-up much the stronger. Kicked out to be close up he dropped into a nice handy spot fourth the outer, took command around the home bend and could have won but did wobble about in the straight losing his compass as he drifted wider on the track. A sitting duck late but as mentioned an excellent lift in effort from the former Aussie who won two from just two starts as ‘All A Spritz’ for Peter Morgan in Victoria back in 2018. A second Hong Kong victory will follow. His lone success in Hong Kong came in April carrying 115lb, tonight’s return to form, also with 115lb. 
Run Of The Race: MIG ENERGY gave them a chance here but too powerful late through the centre. HARDLY SWEARS ran through the line well, he has been nothing but consistent with four minor placings this season.
Disappointment: KEEP YOU WARM had every chance, took a rails run when it presented and loomed large – for about three strides – then the run failed to go on. Disappointing effort given his trend had been upward off two second placings and this one was not expected, an average seventh in the end. Vetted, no findings.
Comparison: A decent clip set up front and that realised another one well under standard on a night where the track got some fire back in it.
Market Mover: KEEP YOU WARM $2.80 to $2.50

Class 2 – Rating 100-80 - Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1650m – Track Good 
Time: 1:38.61   Standard Time: 1:39.60   Course/Class Record: 1:38.58

Winner: SUNSHINE WARRIOR (AUS 6yo g Pierro – Keep The Peace) was staggeringly good second up off a spell, takes this in near record speed in a race that began like a rocket and maintained that rhythm all the way to the wire. The race panned out so well for those sitting off the pace and this fellow was given a lovely quiet run midfield by Vagner Borges, swooped quickly with his main danger GREEN LUCK at the top of the straight and they powered home wide to put them away. Not a big margin in the end but an inch is as a good as a mile in this game. Four wins last season told us he was a very handy horse, two at Happy Valley at this distance, and two at 1400m at Sha Tin. He improves quickly off a fresh up seventh in late September, so Tony Cruz had ironed things out over a two-month gap between runs, a trip to Conghua and two trials there perking him right up for this assignment. 
Runner-up: GREEN LUCK held a slender margin much of the way down the home run and relented very late, another brave try from the Caspar Fownes trained gelding who enjoyed a three-month spell from racing between seasons and has picked up where he left off, in good form. Each of his four race wins have come at Happy Valley over 1650m so no surprise to see him very prominent here. 
Run Of The Race: Apart from the first two who were quite dominant in the end, BUTTERFIELD did some fine work from last to scoot into fourth money. He has been tested at 1800m and 2000m more often than not in more recent times and this was very encouraging at the 1650, obviously appreciating the very strong pace that was set by MAGNIFICENT. When Danny Shum finds a nice race for him at 1800m or beyond he is going to be competitive. 
Disappointment: SOLAR WAI WAI was well favoured but he raced up handy and that was not the place to be given the first three in the run finished, last, second-to-last, and third-to-last. He, being one of them. Did cop some interference when beaten.
Comparison: Amazing time really, they had certainly run some sharper times tonight, but this was only 0.03 outside of record speed. 
Market Mover: FLYING QUEST $16.00 to $11.40
Suspended & Fined: M L Leung (FLYING QUEST) careless riding near the 100m mark - $12,500 and two days. 

Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good 
Time: 1:09.33   Standard Time: 1:09.65   Course/Class Record: 1:08.68

Winner: GUY DRAGON (GB 5yo g Dark Angel – Trip To The Moon) is quickly putting behind him a disappointing 2019-2020 season as he registers his second win this term in just three starts, a real showing of revitalisation under the care of the current premiership leader Caspar Fownes. He joined Fownes after running in July for former trainer Chris So and as so often is the case, a change in scenery has worked the trick, the UK import back to his best again after two wins in his opening gambit in Hong Kong in the 2018-2019 season. He’s another who had been back to Conghua since last racing on October 4, took part in a barrier trial there and back in fine fettle to win this, sitting just off a strong speed and very strong in a stirring finish to win narrowly, but well. Smart ride from Alexis Badel, the man in form right now and his saving of ground proved flawless in a winning result. 
Runner-up: SCORES OF FUN was given a beautiful ride by Joao Moreira, one-one and there to pounce when asked, looked the winner at the 200m and again at the 100m, just out-finished late by the determined inside bid from GUY DRAGON. After winning his first two starts the pressure was on this horse due to expectations. He now finds a nice level and having jumped from a 52-point Class 4 to a 67-point Class 3 horse in just five starts there will be some transitioning. Very capable horse.
Run Of The Race: THE RUNNER ran fifth from well back and home in a race-best 22.38 which proved to be excellent work given the top three were all sharp tonight and he made up several lengths on them. He’s not won at 1400m in the past but racing like a horse who can win with an extra furlong under his belt after three tries at 1200m this campaign.
Disappointment: None too plain, a competitive race this one and the cream rose to the top. Perhaps EXCEED THE STARS was a little ordinary after sharing the speed. 
Comparison: Not at rocket speed but a good run well under standard to end a great night’s racing on a perfect racetrack.
Market Mover: THE RUNNER $8.50 to $6.40

Sunshine Warrior and Vagner Borges, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club