The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, September 15th, 2021:
Race 1 – Heung Yip Handicap, HK $780,000
Class 5 – Turf – Distance 1800m – Track Good
Time: 1:50.34 Standard Time: 1:49.75 Course/Class record: 1:48.33 Success Allstars
Winner: GO BALLISTIC (SAF 6yo g Duke Of Marmalade – Buffalo Dance) broke well from barrier five and was able to cross to the rail as the passed the winning post the first time, sitting on the leaders back. The speed was slow through the middle stages of the race, but he settled well in behind the leader. He continued to travel well when the pace went on with 600m to go, but the horse continued to travel well into the straight. He sprinted well when produced in the home straight, shooting between runners and fending off a late charge to give Luke Ferraris his first win in Hong Kong.
Runner-Up: SKY GEM got away cleanly from barrier two and was urged along by Joao Moreira in the early stages to settle in fifth position along the running rail. He settled well down the back straight and moved one off the fence with 800m left to run. He raced between runners around the turn, with Moreira asking the gelding for an effort with 600m to go and he responded well. He was forced to improve to the outside of runners as he had built up good momentum heading into the back straight. He stuck on well in the straight and fought hard to the line but just found one better on the day.
Run Of The Race: It was a great ride by Luke Ferraris aboard GO BALLISTIC. He never panicked when the speed went on and the horse travelled beautifully into the straight where he got all the breaks.
Disappointment: FORTUNE PATROL was in the market at $8.70 and had to be bustled along by Dylan Mo shortly after jumping to keep up with the field, albeit at a slow tempo. He settled at the rear and remained there throughout the event. He went to the line only fairly in the straight, beating one runner home and finishing 5.5 lengths off the winner.
Comparison: Outside the standard time.
Market Mover: FORTUNE PATROL was well backed late in betting.
Race 2 – Island Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:39.28 Standard Time: 1:40.00 Course/Class record: 1:38.83 Flying Elite
Winner: LUCKY DIAMOND (NZ 5yo g Power – Diamond Babe) was shoved along immediately after jumping by Karis Teetan to ensure he made best use of the inside draw. He settled in fourth position along the rails, trailing the leader as they rounded the first turn. He settled well in that position and didn’t panic as the mid-race moves began with 850m to run. Teetan had the five-year-old under the whip with 450m to travel, turning in fourth position with a clear path to the finishing post opening up in front of him. He knuckled down well under Teetan’s urgings and exploded over the final 100m to get the win by a nose in a tight photo finish.
Runner-Up: FAST PACE jumped from the outside gate shot across to sit outside the leader as they passed the winning post for the first time. He wasn’t settling well though, wanting to over race and fight Zac Purton through the first 500m before eventually settling as they turned into the back straight. Purton allowed him to increase the pace with 700m left to go and was under a ride with 500m remaining. He took a narrow lead passing the 200m mark and was able to fight off the first two competitors but was just beaten on the line by the third.
Run Of The Race: FAST PACE had to do a bit of work to cross early and then didn’t help himself through the middle stages by over racing. Despite this he was still there at the finish and with a better draw and a more energy conserving run next start he should go one better.
Disappointment: SEAWEED FORTUNE settled three back and one off the fence as they moved into the back straight. He remained in that position throughout the race but didn’t respond to the urgings of Vincent Ho when asked for an effort with 500m to go. He tired badly over the final 200m and only beat one runner home, finishing 6-1/2 lengths away in eighth.
Comparison: Inside the standard time.
Market Mover: FAST PACE was $7 when markets first opened and was well backed throughout, jumping as the $3.20 favourite.
Race 3 – Nam Fung Handicap, HK $780,000
Class 5 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good to Firm
Time: 1:09.62 Standard Time: 1:10.20 Course/Class record: 1:09.62 Great Harvest
Winner: SPICY GRILL (AUS 5yo g Pierro – Amaliehaven) wasn’t the fast away from the gates but wasn’t pushed along by Vincent Ho in the early stages, allowing the gelding to settle in a midfield position. The five-year-old travelled well down the back straight, getting into a lovely rhythm under Ho, before getting into the race with 400m to run. The seas parted for the gelding upon straightening and he was able to shoot through a gap with a clear run to the finishing post. He took the lead with 150m to go and it was all over, pulling away for an easy two length victory.
Runner-Up: VIVA MAMA broke away fast and was sent straight to the lead by Dylan Mo. He was able to cross to the rail as they entered the back straight with 900m to run, running along at a good gallop. He travelled well around the turn with Mo able to hug the inside portion of the track. He began getting to work on the gelding with 300m remaining. He looked gone with 200m to go, but he rallied back, fighting off challengers coming at him to finish second, a quarter of a length clear of third position.
Run Of The Race: SPICY GRILL was a very impressive win. He did have everything his own way and all the breaks came when he needed, but he put the field away with authority in a matter of strides. A good return.
Disappointment: MISTER ARM was equal favourite at start time but was slow away and was forced to settle in the second half of the field. He settled well at the back of the field and didn’t have much luck when Jack Wong was looking to improve his position heading into the straight. He was only fair to the line and was disappointing in the run home, finishing in eighth position.
Comparison: The race equalled the course/class record.
Market Mover: MISTER ARM was well backed throughout betting, opening as an $11 chance and starting as an equal favourite at $4.30.
Race 4 – Shum Wan Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good to Firm
Time: 1:09.44 Standard Time: 1:09.80 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends
Winner: BALTIC WHISPER (AUS 8yo g Charge Forward – Le Sillage) got away fast from barrier three and opted to pull out of the speed battle and settling behind the leaders. He travelled well throughout the race and began to be wound up by Antoine Hamelin with 400m to run. He was able to sprint up along the inside and was responding to Hamelin’s urgings. He took the lead with 100m to go and pulled away for a 1-1/4 length victory, landing a big betting plunge.
Runner-Up: HAPPY TANGO was fast away and was able to utilise his inside draw to lead along the rails as they headed into the back straight. He travelled well out in front, running along at a good gallop and leading by a length as they turned into the home straight. He was brave in defeat, holding off all of his rivals in the home straight and just staying ahead of the late challenger to remain in third place.
Run Of The Race: BALTIC WHISPER showed great dash in the straight to blow past his rivals and win well. It was partnered by a great ride from Antoine Hamelin and may be the win he needs to get back into form.
Disappointment: FIRE BALL looked set for a good finish after being sent out as the $2.90 favourite. After breaking from the barriers with good speed, he was able to settle outside of the leader throughout the race. When placed under pressure by Zac Purton in the straight, he loomed up as though he would be in the finish, but quickly dropped out of the battle for the lead. Purton told stewards he believed Fire Ball’s condition gave out, with a veterinary exam unable to find anything.
Comparison: Inside the standard time.
Market Mover: BALTIC WHISPER was a huge go in betting, being $43 into $7.80 on start time.
Race 5 – Shum Wan Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.44 Standard Time: 1:09.80 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends
Winner: GREAT HARVEST (AUS 6yo g Harbour Watch -Grojsman) sped out of the gates and was able to settle in behind the leaders who crossed from outside gates. He settled well in behind the leader and began inching closer to the leader’s tail on the turn, still travelling well as they headed into the straight. Alex Badel came off the leaders back in the straight and took the lead with 125m to go and was strong through the line, holding off the fast finishing second placegetter by 0.75 lengths.
Runner-Up: STORMTROUPER jumped midfield and settled near the rear of the field between runners. He was well back as they entered the turn and was unable to improve his position with plenty of traffic ahead of him. He was still four lengths off the leader with 400m to run, but Zac Purton was able to steer him through a gap and launch after the breakaway leader. He ran out of time though but left the rest of the field in his wake.
Run Of The Race: STORMTROUPER was the run of the race, after being held up at a crucial stage on the turn and momentarily in the straight, he charged home to finish less than a length away. If he’s able to settle a little bit closer and with a better run in transit, he should be winning more races this season.
Disappointment: SPICY SO GOOD was well in the market at $8.90 but was caught four wide and without cover for the entire event, which understandably saw him fall out to finish nine lengths away in last straight. Disappointing, albeit with genuine excuses and can improve with a more favourable draw next time out.
Comparison: Inside the standard time and the exactly the same time as the Shum Wan Handicap from race 4.
Market Mover: SPICY SO GOOD opened at $26 but was backed into $8.90.
Race 6 – The Hong Kong Country Club Challenge Cup (Handicap), HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf – Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:38.93 Standard Time: 1:39.75 Course/Class record: 1:38.55 Telecom Fighters
Winner: FA FA (NZ 4yo g He’s Remarkable – Calypso Miss) wasn’t the quickest away which prompted Vincent Ho to slot into the running line in a midfield position. He settled well during the middle stages, with the pace stop-start down the back straight. The gelding travelled well around the turn, with Ho not panicking and began stoking the four-year-old up with 450m to run. He ended up in the middle of the track upon straightening and was grinding down the lead, never giving in, taking the lead in the dying stages of the race to win by a neck.
Runner-Up: SURREALISM jumped well and was able to settle just off the pace in sixth position. He travelled well through the middle stages of the race with Luke Ferraris moving into the three wide trail with 750m to go. He built good momentum around the turn and went up to make a line of four with the leaders as they entered the straight. He took the lead with 200m to go and was in for the fight, holding onto the lead until he was passed in the shadows of the post.
Run Of The Race: SMOOTHIES was a great run from the back of the pack, showing that he’s returned in good order. After being slow away, he settled at the rear of the field and made up many lengths in the home straight. With a cleaner break next time, I expect him to be right in the finish once again.
Disappointment: MAGNIFICENT had it all his own way out in front, leading throughout and dictating the pace of the race. He was quickly swallowed in the straight and was flushed out the back to finish in ninth position, six lengths away from the winner.
Comparison: Well inside the standard time.
Market Mover: FA FA was $3 when markets first opened and was backed into $1.80.
Race 7 – Tai Shue Wan Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.36 Standard Time: 1:09.50 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision
Winner: CLASSIC POSH (AUS 6yo g Testa Rossa – Makaha) was a bit slow away, with Zac Purton allowing the gelding to settle near the rear of the field before booting along the rail to improve his position down the back straight. He always seemed to be under the urgings of Purton, but he waited until they had balanced up in the straight before really getting to work on the gelding. Purton stuck to the inside part of the track, with the gelding letting down magnificently, rounding up the leaders and comfortably pulling away late in the race to win by half a length. He was 5-3/4 lengths away from the leader with 400m to travel and he absolutely stormed home, with Purton not even needing the whip.
Runner-Up: COLONEL was very brave in defeat. He was very fast out of the barriers and was able to find the lead easily before they rounded the first turn. He was a little bit keen in the running, which set a good tempo and saw the gelding lead by three lengths with 600m to run. He stuck on well in the straight despite the well-run race out front, but he just tired over the concluding stages to fall into second position.
Run Of The Race: COLONEL was impressive out in front and was almost able to hold on for an all the way victory. If he’s able to settle better during his races, I’m sure a win it just around the corner for him.
Disappointment: MIG ENERGY was sent out as favourite at $3.70 and was caught three wide early in the race, but Joao Moreira was able to find a position one off the rail as they entered the back straight. He raced up well in the home straight, but tired over the final 100m and was swamped by his competitors, finishing three lengths away in eighth place.
Comparison: Just inside the standard time.
Market Mover: MIG ENERGY $4.50 into $3.70.
Race 8 – Wong Chuk Hang Handicap, HK $2,400,000
Class 2 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:08.46 Standard Time: 1:09.30 Course/Class record: 1:08.46 Harmony And Rich
Winner: HARMONY AND RICH (AUS 5yo g I Am Invincible – Express Power) broke well from the gates and was pushed forward in the early stages by Matthew Chadwick, settling along the rails in the leading division. He travelled well throughout the race and was still under a strong hold as they turned for home. He quickly went up and took the lead and continued to pull away over the final 150m, winning in fine style by two lengths.
Runner-Up: HANDSOME BO BO had to do a little bit of work early to cross to sit in the lead, one off the fence. He set a good tempo out front but was doing it within himself and looked to be going well into the home straight. He fought hard to keep his nose in front but continued to dig deep once he was passed. He began to tire late but held off the chasers to finish a quarter of a length clear in second.
Run Of The Race: HARMONY AND RICH showed he has returned in good order, sitting on the speed and burning away to win comfortably, and in record time. One to follow going forward.
Disappointment: IGNITING was second favourite at start time, jumping as a $4.50 chance. He jumped well and settled midfield between runners as they headed down the back straight. He appeared to be travelling well into the home straight, but he was only plain when asked to sprint, finishing 4.5 lengths away in eighth position.
Comparison: A new course/class record.
Market Mover: SIGHT SUCCESS was well backed after markets first opened, being $10 into the $3.90 favourite.
Go Ballistic and Luke Ferraris, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club