The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, January 13th, 2022:
Race 1 – Tsz Wan Shan Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 2200m - Track Good
Time: 2:17.83 Standard Time: 2:17.05 Course/Class record: 2:15.25 Donc Je Suis
Winner: LEGION OF MERIT (NZ 5yo g Alamosa – Fantastic Honour) jumped fairly from an outside draw and settled in the back half of the field. The tempo was extremely slow through the first half of the race, before Karis Teetan took matters into his own hands. Teetan took off down the side of the course, going around the field to inject some pace into the race as he went to the lead down the back straight. He was travelling much better than his rivals around the turn and had pinched a 1 length lead as they swung into the straight. He fought off the first challengers and held a solid advantage back to the rest of the field with 200m to go, but he began to tire over the closing stages. Luckily enough the gap was enough as he held on to win by a head.
Runner-Up: CHAMPION PAL was only fairly into stride, but he found a great spot midfield under Vincent Ho, sitting one off the rail as he moved into the one-out-one-back position down the home straight on the first occasion. He was travelling nicely under Ho despite the slow tempo, but he was left behind as the pace ramped up down the back straight thanks to the mid-race move. He was under pressure a long way from home, and despite picking up some ground on the turn he was still 4-1/2 lengths off the winner with 400m to run. He was very strong over the concluding stages, staying on better than all his opposition in the straight, but he just ran out of time to get the win.
Run Of The Race: LEGION OF MERIT was running on empty the final 50m, but he had already won the race at the 800m point. It was a smart and bold move by Karis Teetan to take off when he did, but it proved the defining factor in what was a great win.
Disappointment: SKY GEM away on terms but settled toward the rear of the small field. He remained there until they turned into the back straight were Vagner Borges attempted to tack onto the back of the mid-race move, but instead he was left hung out to dry three-wide and under a ride. He failed to respond to Borges’ riding over the final 600m and drifted out of the race to finish last. A post-race veterinary exam failed to find any abnormality.
Comparison: Well outside standard.
Market Mover: RED IMPACT jumped a well-supported favourite.
Race 2 – Wang Tau Hom Handicap, HK $780,000
Class 5 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:10.46 Standard Time: 1:10.20 Course/Class record: 1:09.17 Alloy King
Winner: KING’S TROOPER (AUS 6yo g Denman – Alluring Belle) was away only fairly and settled in the back half of the field as they turned into the straight. He travelled well throughout under Ruan Maia, who remained in the same position throughout the race before turning coming off heels as they turned for home. He had a bit of ground to make up in the straight, but he sprinted well down the centre of the track to gun down the leader inside the final 50m and get his neck in front to steal the win.
Runner-Up: CIGAR BUDDIES was quickly into stride from the outside and was in the lead as they rounded the first turn but was kept out wider on the track as a rival booted up on the inside of him. Antoine Hamelin was finally able to work his way to the rail passing the 700m point, holding the lead by over 1-3/4 lengths as they turned for the finish. He sprinted well in the straight and proved very hard to run down, but he just ran out of gas over the closing stages and was overrun by the fast-finishing winner.
Run Of The Race: CIGAR BUDDIES was left out wider on the track probably longer than Antoine Hamelin wanted to, but he was eventually able to work across and hold the lead outright. He put in a great kick at the top of the straight, but he was just gunned down over the concluding stages. With a better draw next time out, he may be able to go all the way.
Disappointment: DAILY BEAUTY failed to muster any pace out of the barriers and settled at the rear of the field throughout the 1200m journey. Joao Moreira tried to look for gaps to improve the gelding turning into the straight, but he failed to respond to Moreira’s riding in the final stages and finished 4-3/4 lengths off the winner in 9th position. Moreira told stewards the gelding didn’t travel well at any point and didn’t respond to his urgings in the straight. A veterinary examination failed to show any abnormality.
Comparison: Outside standard.
Market Mover: REGENCY POET was backed into favouritism, while there was support for VECTOR at longer odds.
Race 3 – Ma Tau Kok Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1000m - Track Good
Time: 57.26 Standard Time: 57.05 Course/Class record: 56.39 Gentle Breeze
Winner: SCOTCH TYCOON (AUS 3yo g Rich Enuff – Champagne Flute) was a touch slow into stride but had the benefit of an inside draw which allowed Vincent Ho to remain with cover despite settling back in the field. He was a whopping 5-1/2 lengths off the leader with 400m to go and was already under pressure by Ho, as he bought the gelding wide into the straight. He was still well back from the leader with 200m to go, but he hit top gear and began to storm home the final 150m, getting there in the nick of time to get his nose in front. It was a great finish with Ho and the three-year-old going home the best to win by a short head.
Runner-Up: EXCELLENT PEERS was only away fairly and settled about midfield under Matthew Chadwick who was able to obtain cover from barrier 7. He travelled well around the turn as Chadwick started to apply the pressure with 400m to go, moving three-deep before being pushed even wider on the course as they turned for home. He stuck on well down the centre of the track to take the lead with 50m to go, but he couldn’t hold off the fast-finishing winner down the outside.
Run Of The Race: SCOTCH TYCOON showed off a tremendous finishing burst to get there by a short head. It took him a little while to wind up, but his last 200m was blistering as he stormed down the middle of the track. Who knows what’s in store for the three-year-old, with this being only his second career start.
Disappointment: SUPER CLASS jumped quickly and was the leader in the opening stages before easing back to obtain cover along the rail. He was travelling nicely around the turn and Luke Ferraris crossed to the rail shortly after entering the straight. He was fairly one paced in the straight and weakened over the final stages to finish in 8th place, beaten 4-1/2 lengths.
Comparison: Just outside standard.
Market Mover: SUPER CLASS and SUPER COMMANDER were supported, as was AMAZING ROCKY at double figure odds.
Race 4 – Ma Tau Wai Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:10.42 Standard Time: 1:09.80 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends
Winner: PRANCE DRAGON (NZ 7yo g Power – Wanaka) jumped awkwardly and was immediately shifted across the back of the field from the wide draw. Derek Leung was able to improve along the rail to settle midfield as they turned into the back straight. The speed was good and the seven-year-old was travelling nicely down the back straight. Leung was in a sticky spot along the rail as they rounded the turn and was held up slightly passing the 350m as they turned into the home straight. The seas parted as he straightened, and he got an unobstructed run down the straight. He quickened nicely between runners to run down the leader with 50m to go and inch away over the final stages to win by half a length.
Runner-Up: HAPPILY FRIENDS got away well from the inside and used the draw to his advantage to hold a position just behind the leaders as they travelled down the back straight. He was in a cozy position in running with the pace being good down through the middle stages, Vincent Ho remained on the leader’s back before crossing to the rail as they entered the straight. He sprinted quickly along the inside rail to take the lead passing the 150m point and dug deep over the final stages, but the winner was just too strong over the final stages.
Run Of The Race: PRANCE DRAGON was far too good over the final stages despite being awkwardly away from the tricky barrier. In the end, the slow start probably helped his chances as the seven-year-old shot away in the closing stages to win impressively, all whilst carrying the top weight.
Disappointment: TOUCH FAITH jumped on terms but was eased back by Joao Moreira in the early stages to settle midfield and one off the fence. He appeared to be travelling nicely throughout but came under pressure with around 450m to go, with Moreira already hard at work as they turned into the home straight. He was only fair in the straight as Moreira eased on the gelding over the final 200m, finishing 3-1/2 lengths off the winner in 7th.
Comparison: Well outside the standard time.
Market Mover: FALCON TURBO jumped a solid favourite, while ARES was tried at decent double figure odds.
Race 5 – To Kwa Wan Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:41.09 Standard Time: 1:40.00 Course/Class record: 1:38.83 Flying Elite
Winner: OFF THE REEL (AUS 4yo g Dundeel – The Golden Dane) got away well from an outside draw as Derek Leung was able to slot him in one off the rail and about midfield as they turned down the side of the course. The pace was only moderate through the first half of the race as Leung took off three-wide around the field with 750m left to travel. He was caught out three-deep after making the move and was under heavy duress as they swung into the home straight. He was taken in shortly after straightening but he stuck on well once balanced to take the lead with 200m to run. He was fighting on strongly in front to hold off a couple of rivals closing late to win by a short head.
Runner-Up: EVER LAUGH jumped well and went forward under Karis Teetan, settling in the one-out-one-back position as they travelled down the side of the course. He appeared to be travelling well as the mid-race moves came, with Teetan popping out onto their backs with 600m to run. He was under heavy pressure as they turned for home, but he stuck on brilliantly down the outside but couldn’t reel in the winner over the final stages, having to settle for second.
Run Of The Race: The way OFF THE REEL stuck on over the final 600m was very game, especially after being caught wide over the final 600m. He was able to hold off his rivals in the closing stages and bring up his second win in his past three outings.
Disappointment: WINNING VOLATILITY was caught wide and without cover from barrier 8 so Zac Purton sent the gelding forward to take the lead down the back straight. He stuck on well in the early part of the straight but weakened badly from the 250m point, drifting back to finish in 11th place, 9-3/4 lengths off the win.
Comparison: Way outside standard.
Market Mover: GLORIOUS LOVER was the only one they wanted to be with.
Race 6 – Kowloon Tsai Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:09.98 Standard Time: 1:09.50 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision
Winner: SUPER DOBBIN (SAF 5yo g Wylie Hall – Vanilla Twilight) broke well and was able to cross from barrier 5 and be one off the rails under Antoine Hamelin in the early going. He got about a half-length in front as they turned down the back, but Hamelin restrained the gelding to try and obtain some cover, which he got with 550m left to run. He was travelling a touch keenly though and Hamelin crossed heels to come three-wide with 400m remaining. He ground away to take the lead with 50m to go and had enough of a gap back to the rest of the field to hold on and win by a neck.
Runner-Up: PARTY WARRIOR jumped well from his outside draw and was eased back by Matthew Poon, settling toward the back as he settled one off the rail. The good pace suited him as he travelled well down the back and had a back to follow as he came very wide on the turn home. He was the widest upon straightening, but he was running on brilliantly down the straight. He may have peaked on the run with 50m to go, but he stuck on well to just hold onto second place in a photo finish.
Run Of The Race: PARTY WARRIOR is the one I want to be with next time out. Matthew Poon was forced to go back from his awkward draw and found himself near the tail of the field. He was still 5-3/4 lengths off the leader with 400m to go, but he showed great dash to make up plenty of ground in the straight. If he can settle closer at his next start, he can go one better.
Disappointment: JAZZ ANGEL was slow away as usual and settled toward the back and along the inside. He appeared to be tracking into the race nicely under Joao Moreira, as the Brazilian stuck to the inside rail upon straightening. The race was there to win if he was good enough, but he failed to quicken over the final 300m and finished in last position.
Comparison: Outside standard.
Market Mover: JAZZ ANGEL was well-tried, while money also came for COLONEL.
Race 7 – Ma Tau Wai Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:10.16 Standard Time: 1:09.80 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends
Winner: SMART IDEA (NZ 3yo g Swiss Ace – Eleanor Coup) was a touch slow away but was able to settle midfield on the outside under Harry Bentley. He was travelling nicely down the back straight with the speed quite good up front, but he was positioned between runners as they turned off the back. Bentley had to keep a hold of the gelding until they had turned as there was no where for him to improve, but he quickened nicely when he pushed the button at the top of the straight. He showed great dash to sprint between runners and take the lead with 100m to run, before holding off the late challengers over the closing stages to win by a neck.
Runner-Up: SPICY GRILL jumped fairly and was positioned midfield under Karis Teetan in the early stages but was pushed out three-wide as they turned into the back straight. Teetan then eased back to settle near the tail of the field down the back straightaway. Teetan peeled out three-wide as they came off the back and was able to keep his momentum going as he continued to get wider as the swung into the straight. He charged home down the outside of the track, running on powerfully but he just ran out of time to reel in the leader.
Run Of The Race: SPICY GRILL was taken back after being positioned a bit awkwardly in the early going, but sprinted brilliantly from the back of the field to just miss out on the win. He was forced to go very wide in the straight, but he kept on brilliantly and with a more favourable draw next time out he may be able to get the win.
Disappointment: SAVVY DELIGHT jumped as the favourite from barrier 6 and went forward under Joao Moreira, eventually finding the running rail shortly after turning into the back straight. He even got cover with 600m remaining, following the leader around the turn before Moreira stuck to the inside upon straightening. He had an unobstructed run in the straight and the race was there to win if he was good enough, but he weakened over the final 150m to finish in 8th place, beaten 5-1/2 lengths.
Comparison: Outside standard.
Market Mover: SO AWESOME and BIG TWO were the ones punters wanted to be with.
Race 8 – Kowloon City Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1000m - Track Good
Time: 56.84 Standard Time: 56.80 Course/Class record: 55.98 Harmony N Blessed
Winner: SPECIAL M (IRE 4yo g Lawman – Young Special) jumped fairly and was up running on the pace in the early stages before crossing to sit on off the rail in behind the pace. Vagner Borges had him travelling well around the turn and placed him under pressure as they swung into the straight. He quickened well at the top of the straight and Borges was forced to cross across runners to get into the clear air. He continued to run on well in the straight, weaving between runners and proving too strong over the concluding stages to take the lead in the shadows of the post and win by a neck.
Runner-Up: STOLTZ jumped well from barrier 6 and Matthew Poon was able to get him into a great position one off the rail without doing too much work and even got cover with 650m to run. He was travelling well as Poon stayed with cover for as long as he could, only popping off heels as they swung into the straight with 350m to run. He travelled up beautifully to take the lead with 200m to go, without Poon having asked for full throttle yet. He was in front for a long way, but just couldn’t fight off the winner who was finishing the better.
Run Of The Race: GOLD MARQUIS turned in a very bold run on his Hong Kong debut, running on powerfully from the back of the pack to finish in the placings. He was racing three-wide with cover throughout but was forced to be the widest runner upon straightening. A great showing on debut and he can build off this performance.
Disappointment: JOYFUL WIN was up against it from the beginning after drawing the widest gate, but he didn’t show his customary fast pace out of the blocks and was caught out four-wide without cover. He failed to pick up in the straight after the tough run, finishing 7-1/4 lengths off the winner in 12th place.
Comparison: Just outside standard.
Market Mover: STOLTZ was well supported as favourite.
Race 9 – Lok Fu Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:41.09 Standard Time: 1:39.75 Course/Class record: 1:38.55 Telecom Fighters
Winner: CHEERFUL DAYS (AUS 5yo g Smart Missile – Saint Minerva) jumped on terms and Zac Purton eased the gelding back from barrier 6, slotting just worse than midfield and one off the rail as they turned down the side of the course. The pace was very slow in the opening stages of the race and once the field had settled, Purton found himself in third-last position early on down the back straight. The Australian moved out into the three-wide trail passing the 700m point and got a lovely tow into the race as he began to build momentum and improve his position around the outside of the field. He came off heels as they turned into the home straight and he began to let down beautifully, taking the lead with 100m to run and drawing away over the final stages to win by a half-length. It marked Zac Purton’s first winner as he returned from injury.
Runner-Up: GALLANT CROWN got away well under Joao Moreira and settled in the one-out-one-back position in the early stages and was travelling well despite the slow tempo through the first half of the race. Moreira just bided his time, remaining with cover throughout before coming out three-wide with 400m to run to challenge the leaders on the turn for home. He sprinted well to take the lead with 150m to run, but he couldn’t hold off the winner who was just too strong over the final stages.
Run Of The Race: It’s hard to go past the win of CHEERFUL DAYS who proved too strong despite the sustained run and the big weight. Zac Purton rated him brilliantly to build his momentum around the turn and land the leading jockey his first win on his first night back in the saddle since December.
Disappointment: WORLD FAMOUS jumped well off the inside and found the leader’s back early on in the race and never moved from that position. He appeared to be tracking into the race nicely, but when put into the clear he just didn’t pick up and was swamped by his rivals. He couldn’t hang on and finished in 7th place, beaten 3 lengths.
Comparison: Over a second outside standard time.
Market Mover: WORLD FAMOUS had plenty of support late in betting.
Success for Zac Purton, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club