The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, July 14th, 2021:
Race 1 – Ventris Handicap, HK $750,000
Class 5 – Turf – Distance 1800m – Track Good To Firm
Time: 1:48.33 Standard Time: 1:50.30 Course/Class record: 1:48.33 Success Allstars
Winner: SUCCESS ALLSTARS (SAF 5yo g Silvano – Pay The Piper) jumped fairly and was eased back after the start by Karis Teetan to settle toward the rear of the field. He settled on the rail third-to-last, but steadily improved his position as they entered the back straight. He continued to improve his position along the running rail, sitting in sixth spot as they turned into the straight. Teetan got to work on the gelding as they balanced and he sprinted well, taking the lead with 100m to go, and holding off a late challenge to win by a head.
Runner-Up: WEALTHY EMPLOYEE was only fairly away from barrier 10 and was another who was eased back to settle at the tail of the field. He followed Success Allstars into the race, moving along the rail behind him to improve his position down the back straight. He was under the whip as he turned, and Chad Schofield took him out into clear air in the middle of the track. He tried hard all the way to the line, but couldn’t grab the leader, finishing in second position.
Run Of The Race: SUCCESS ALLSTARS broke the course/class record in what was a very smart ride by Karis Teetan. He sprinted well in the straight and took advantage of the good pace on offer early to run on from the back of the pack and win.
Disappointment: RIGHTEOUS WIN jumped at $5.50 odds and settled in second position on the outside of the leader. He obtained cover down the back straight and looked set to be in the finish after his brilliant run in transit. He battled away in the straight but tired over the final 150m to finish 4.75 lengths away in seventh.
Comparison: A new course/class record.
Market Mover: RIGHTEOUS WIN $6.50 into $5.50.
Race 2 – Link Handicap, HK $750,000
Class 5 – Turf – Distance 1000m – Track Good To Firm
Time: 56.97 Standard Time: 57.30 Course/Class record: 56.87 U W Brother
Winner: SHANGHAI POWER (NZ 4yo g Shamexpress – Diplomacy) was fast away from the barriers and utilised the inside gate to settle in the leading group. He pushed through to take the lead passing the 600m point and was travelling well as they turned into the home straight. He pinched a gap early in the straight as he sprinted well early, but he started to tire over the final 100m. He was able to fight off the late challenger by a neck, handing Victor Wong his first win in the Hong Kong season.
Runner-Up: CHUNGHWA JINGSHEN jumped well from the wide barrier and was up with the leaders early in the race, before easing behind the leading group with 700m left to run. He chased hard in the straight, but just couldn’t run down the leader, falling by a neck. He gapped the rest of the field though, finishing two lengths behind him.
Run Of The Race: SHANGHAI POWER sat on the pace and did it the hard way, leading from start to finish and holding off the challenge to win in good time.
Disappointment: TELECOM MISSILE missed the start and settled at the back of the pack. Alfred Chan started to make his move with 450m remaining and he became the wides runner on straightening. He hit the line well but had too much work to do after missing the start, finishing in eighth position, five lengths off the leader.
Comparison: Inside the standard time and close to the course/class record.
Market Mover: TELECOM MISSILE was well backed late in betting, going from $8.2 into $4.1 just prior to the start.
Race 3 – Sung Tak Handicap, HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good To Firm
Time: 1:08.60 Standard Time: 1:09.90 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends
Winner: HAPPILY FRIENDS (IRE 5yo g Requinto – Maraglen) was quickly into stride from barrier one and settled on the pace. Vincent Ho made the horses to his outside work hard to cross to the lead, eventually they did, giving Happily Friends and Ho cover with 700m remaining. He travelled into the race strongly and began to work through his gears, levelling up to the leader with 150m to go and going on to win by just a neck.
Runner-Up: LORIZ jumped fast under Antoine Hamelin and settled up on the pace as they rounded the first turn. He pressed on to take the outright lead down the back straight and was leading by over a length as they turned for home. He fought hard in the straight and didn’t give up, going down by a neck in a great run.
Run Of The Race: HAPPILY FRIENDS did everything right, jumping fast and sitting on the pace. Vincent Ho made his competitors work hard to get around him, which helped him down the straight, running down the leader and setting a new course/class record.
Disappointment: SUPERB DADDY wasn’t the fastest into stride and settled at the back of the pack. He became a long way off the leader down the back straight and Tony Piccone placed him under pressure with 700m to run. He initially didn’t respond to Piccone’s riding, getting further away from the leader. He just battled away in the straight, getting past some of his rivals before Piccone eased him down over the final 100m to finish 8.25 lengths off the leader in tenth.
Comparison: A new course/class record.
Market Mover: SUPERB DADDY $16 into $7.90.
Race 4 – Sung Tak Handicap, HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good To Firm
Time: 1:09.18 Standard Time: 1:09.90 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends
Winner: XPONENTIAL (AUS 5yo g Equiano – Eternal Circle) jumped well and was pushed along in the early stages by Jerry Chau to overcome the wide barrier and take up a leading position. He was three wide around the first turn, but was able to sit on the outside of the leader with relative ease as they entered the back straight. Chau started to place the gelding under pressure as they turned for home, taking the lead with 100m to go and pulling away to win by a length.
Runner-Up: FORTUNE HAPPINESS jumped from a wide gate and was caught wide and without cover throughout the event. Ruan Maia allowed the gelding to get into his rhythm, sitting comfortably facing the breeze out wide. Maia started to make his move passing with 500m remaining and continued that run into the straight, grinding away to finish in second position.
Run Of The Race: FORTUNE HAPPINESS turned in a fantastic run after sitting wide and without cover for the entire race, he still had the toughness to run into second position down the straight.
Disappointment: ISLAND SHINE started well in the market at $6 odds, but clipped heels and fell passing the 500 metres. Karis Teetan was cleared of any injury and continued riding, whilst Island Shine was found to be lame in his right hind leg. DAILY BEAUTY was caught up in the fall and went to the line relatively untested by Joao Moreira after jumping at $10.
Comparison: Inside the standard time but slower than the first Sung Tak Handicap one race earlier.
Market Mover: GOOD SHOT $11 into $6.20.
Race 5 – Hau Tak Handicap, HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1650m – Track Good To Firm
Time: 1:39.06 Standard Time: 1:40.10 Course/Class record: 1:38.83 Flying Elite
Winner: RED IMPACT (AUS 3yo g Real Impact – Confer) jumped slightly awkwardly but was able to muster speed and hold out his rivals to sit in fourth position behind the leading pair. He travelled well down the back straight for Vincent Ho, who kept him under a strong hold as they turned into the home straight. Ho darted back for a run between horses early in the straight and was in for the fight. He copped a bump with 120m left to go but rebalanced and hit the line strongly to win by a nose in a close photo finish.
Runner-Up: LAND POWER got away fast from barrier six and was up running outside of the leader as the field passed the winning post for the first time. He was a bit keen in the early stages, but Alfred Chan was able to get him to settle and relax as they entered the back straight with 1000m left to run. He travelled strongly and took the lead as they turned for home. He drifted in slightly when placed under pressure by Alfred Chan, and then bumped the with the eventual winner, but he just couldn’t fight him off, going down in a photo finish. Chan lodged a protest against the winner, but it was dismissed by the stewards.
Run Of The Race: ZHAN JIANG ROCKS produced an eye-catching run down the centre of the track under Antoine Hamelin. He settled near the back of the field but rounded them all up and only finished a length from the winner after running on well down the straight.
Disappointment: ON EXCEL STAR was caught wide and was over racing in the early stages of the race. He settled well through the middle stages, and Joao Moreira bought him wide on the turn to make a run around the outside of the field. He tired with 200m to run though, finishing in eighth spot, 6.75 lengths off the leader after starting at $6.20.
Comparison: Well inside the standard time.
Market Mover: SUN OF MAKFI $5 into $3.60.
Race 6 – Oi Kwann Handicap, HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Turf – Distance 1800m – Track Good To Firm
Time: 1:47.91 Standard Time: 1:49.40 Course/Class record: 1:47.91 Leap Of Faith
Winner: LEAP OF FAITH (AUS 4yo g Sebring – Steps In Time) jumped well but was caught three wide in the early stages. The pace was slow early, so Joao Moreira shot around the field to take the lead with 1200m to go. Once to the lead, Moreira slowed the pace right down in the middle stages, before ramping the speed back up with 800m remaining. Moreira let rip at the 400m point and the gelding responded, sprinting well down the straight to win comfortably by three lengths.
Runner-Up: EXCEPTIONAL NICE had the advantage of an inside draw and was able to sit on the leaders back and along the running rail. He travelled well in the run but was placed under pressure by Antoine Hamelin with 450m to run to keep in touch with the leader. He chased hard in the straight but was no match for the winner. He did hold off a late challenge for second, getting his nose down on the line to get the nod in a photo finish.
Run Of The Race: It’s hard to go past LEAP OF FAITH as the run of the race. A new course/class record in a dominant front-running performance.
Disappointment: GOLDEN SPECTRUM was slow away and was urged along by Neil Callan in the early stages to catch up to the pack and find a position. He was caught four wide and without cover as they headed down the side of the track, before pushing forward to take sit three wide with 900m to go. Callan continued to press on, getting within 2.5 lengths of the leader, but he quickly felt the pinch of the hard run, drifting out of the race to finish in eighth spot, beaten 5.75 lengths.
Comparison: A New course/class record.
Market Mover: INDICATIVE VOTE $10 into $7.10.
Race 7 – Broadwood Handicap, HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Turf – Distance 1000m – Track Good To Firm
Time: 56.24 Standard Time: 56.85 Course/Class record: 56.09 Dancing Fighter
Winner: RESOLUTE (NZ 4yo g Per Incanto – Trigon Lass) broke well from the barriers and was caught very wide on the track with a number of horses going forward looking for the lead early in the race. Harry Bentley pressed on with 550m remaining to sit in a three wide position in line with the leaders and he responded quickly to Bentley’s urgings as they straightened for home. He took the lead with 200m to go and never looked back, drawing away to win by 1.25 lengths.
Runner-Up: BE READY enjoyed the luxury of barrier one, jumping fast and being in the battle for the speed early. He allowed runners outside him to come across, meaning he got a beautiful trail into the race passing the 700m point. He travelled well into the straight, with Chad Schofield sticking to the inside and running on into second position.
Run Of The Race: RESOLUTE was caught wide and without cover for the entirety of the event and still had enough in the tank to pull away and win comfortably. A fantastic performance.
Disappointment: STORM WARNINGS was sent out in the market at $7.80 but finished a long last after being caught very wide early in the race and racing extremely wide and without over for the whole race.
Comparison: Well inside the standard time.
Market Mover: RESOLUTE was very heavily backed, jumping at $8.30 when as much as $41 was on offer when markets first opened.
Race 8 – Wong Nai Chung Handicap, HK $2,200,000
Class 2 – Turf – Distance 1650m – Track Good To Firm
Time: 1:38.84 Standard Time: 1:39.60 Course/Class record: 1:37.97 Tsar
Winner: HELENE WISDOM STAR (IRE 4yo g Charm Spirit – Ibizane) wasn’t the fastest into stride and was pushed along by Neil Callan to find a forward position early in the race. Callan was able to position himself in the one out and one back position, settling well into third position. He then pressed on passing the 800m point to take the lead and he continued to travel strongly into the straight. Neil Callan got to work on the gelding as they straightened, who was in for the fight. He dug deep and kept his competitors at bay to hold on to the win by a short head in a photo finish.
Runner-Up: TELECOM FIGHTERS pressed on from the outside draw to take the lead passing the finishing post the first time. He settled well down the back straight, but maybe a little too well as he came under hard riding from Tony Piccone with 550m left to run. He tried his hardest, but he just couldn’t get his nose in front of the leader, finishing in second position in a photo finish.
Run Of The Race: HALL OF CHAMP was a very eye-catching run in third position, finishing just a head behind the winner. He settled just worse than midfield in the run, back began to make up ground in a three wide position down the back straight. He came wide on the turn and really let down over the final 150m, but he just couldn’t real in the winner.
Disappointment: BEAUTY FIT was well in the market at $6.60 and was eased behind runners after jumping from the widest barrier. He was able to work his way along the rail, inching closer to the leader down the back straight and around the turn, but didn’t respond to Joao Moreira’s riding in the straight, finishing in eighth position.
Comparison: Inside the standard time.
Market Mover: GIFT OF LIFELINE $11 into $4.60
Race 9 – Sports Road Handicap, HK $2,200,000
Class 2 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good To Firm
Time: 1:08.58 Standard Time: 1:09.40 Course/Class record: 1:08.52 Ivictory
Winner: SPARKLING DRAGON (NZ 6yo g O’Reilly – Shining Light) bounced fast and positioned himself on the outside of the leader as they turned into the back straight. He settled well as he gained cover with 800m to go, setting him up perfectly for the run home. Derek Leung came wide on the turn with the gelding travelling well into the straight and he let down well. He took the lead with 100m to go and held off a late challenge to take the win by a neck in the final event of the season.
Runner-Up: LOVING A BOOM was a bit slow away and settled in the back half of the field. He travelled well in the run and was still under a strong hold as he they straightened for the finish line. Jerry Chau wanted to improve to the outside of the field early in the straight, but the gelding wanted to lay in, so Chau went for a gap between runners and exploded of over the final 100m. He got close, but not close enough, finishing second by a neck.
Run Of The Race: LOVING A BOOM was a very eye-catching run for second after settling in the back half of the field. Chau did well to not fight the horse and shoot through a gap between runners, which almost won him the race.
Disappointment: WAR WEAPON started as second favourite in the market. He was slightly slow away, but Karis Teetan used the inside draw to his advantage, running along the rail to sit behind the leaders. He travelled well in the run but came under pressure with 450m to go and didn’t really respond. He battled away in the straight, but finished in tenth position, beaten 4.5 lengths.
Comparison: Just outside the course/class record.
Market Mover: WHEN YOU BELIEVE $16 into $6.70.
Neil Callan signs off from Hong Kong after a decade of riding with a winner, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club