The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, January 20th, 2022:
Race 1 – Po Toi Handicap, HK $780,000
Class 5 – Turf - Distance 1800m - Track Good
Time: 1:49.48 Standard Time: 1:49.75 Course/Class record: 1:48.33 Success Allstars
Winner: TAILOR MADE (GB 6yo g Archipenko – Malhadinha) got away on terms and settled midfield in the early going, with Joao Moreira holding his position one off the rail. Moreira eventually crossed down to the rail as they turned down the side of the course with the pace being quite good through the first half of the race. The pace slowed as they began turning off the back straight and Moreira looked to be in trouble sitting three pairs back and along the rail with the field stacking up as they swung into the straight. The leaders all ran off on the corner, allowing Moreira to stick to the inside part of the track and gaining an unobstructed run to the judge. He quickened nicely in the straight to get to the lead with 100m to run, getting to finish in the nick of time to hold off the fast-finishing challenger to win by a short head.
Runner-Up: LUCKY MISSILE jumped with the field but was taken back by Luke Ferraris from the wide draw. Ferraris was able to get across and be one off the rail, settling just worse than midfield as they turned down the side of the course. He travelled well in that position throughout the middle stages of the race before popping out into the three-wide line with about 650m to go as Ferraris began to improve his position turning into the straight. Ferraris started applying the pressure with 400m to run and after being slightly pocketed for a run for most of the straight, the South African was able to get into the clear with 200m to run. He stormed home over the concluding stages to finish in eye-catching fashion, but he ran out of time to gun down the winner.
Run Of The Race: LUCKY MISSILE was very impressive over the final stages of the race, and the way jumped indicates he can sit closer to the speed from a good draw next time out. If he’s able to sit closer and still finish off how he did today, a win won’t be far away.
Disappointment: SUCCESS ALLSTARS was travelling in a great spot in behind the speed throughout the race, but was already under pressure as they turned into the back straight. Jockey Harry Bentley told stewards that despite being ridden along, the gelding failed to respond to his urgings and came under heavier pressure with 600m to run and still did not respond. He finished in 8th place, 13-1/4 lengths off the winner with a post-race veterinary exam failing to reveal any abnormality.
Comparison: Inside the standard time.
Market Mover: AMAZING BOY was backed into favouritism with TAILOR MADE also having support. PRIME STAR and RIGHTEOUS WIN were both specked at double figure odds.
Race 2 – Peng Chau Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:41.57 Standard Time: 1:40.00 Course/Class record: 1:38.83 Flying Elite
Winner: VIVA POPCORN (GB 5yo g Farhh – Stoneacre Sarah) was a touch slow away and didn’t show much pace despite being ridden up by Joao Moreira out of the barriers, eventually settling midfield and along the rail. He relaxed well and he was able to improve his position along the rail to be just off the pace as they turned off the back straight. Moreira was able to keep the gelding along the inside as they turned into the straight and he responded well to the Brazilian’s urgings. The leader was around 3 lengths in front when Moreira began to charge, and he mowed down the leader inside the final 50m to get the win by a neck.
Runner-Up: FAITHFUL TRINITY was quickly into stride and Matthew Chadwick went forward from the wide draw, eventually crossing to take the lead as they turned down the side of the course. Chadwick dictated proceedings from the front, setting a moderate tempo through the middle stages of the race before ramping up the tempo again from the 600m point. Chadwick was able to pinch a break on the rest of the field as they turned into the straight, kicking well to put up a big margin back to his rivals early in the straight. He turned in a magnificent effort, but he was just run down by one better in the final few strides.
Run Of The Race: VIVA POPCORN finally put another win on the board after knocking on the door his past couple, and it couldn’t have looked any better. Joao Moreira made the race-winning move down the back straight, continuing to improve the gelding to cut back the margin as they turned. He has plenty of ability and it wouldn’t surprise to see him go back-to-back.
Disappointment: PACKING FAMOUS was well-supported late in betting but found himself worse than midfield in the early stages of the race. Zac Purton was then able to find the back of the eventual winner, down the back straight and followed him around the turn, before coming off his back as they straightened. It was the wrong move though as Purton was forced to restrain his mount and cross back to the rail to continue his run. He finished off the race fairly, but no doubt that little piece of interference cost him some ground.
Comparison: Way outside the standard.
Market Mover: VIVA POPCORN jumped a well-supported favourite as PACKING FAMOUS and CHARIZARD were also backed.
Race 3 – Green Island Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:09.94 Standard Time: 1:09.80 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends
Winner: ICE LEGEND (AUS 5yo g Whittington – Anakalinka) broke cleanly and was up running on the pace in the early stages, before Harry Bentley eased him back to avoid racing wide and without cover. The pace was good through the early and middle stages which suited Bentley’s mount, despite finding himself 5-1/4 lengths off the leader with 400m left to run. Bentley started to get to work on the five-year-old and got him into the clear early in the straight, but the lightly raced gelding wanted to lay in as they straightened. Passing the 200m point he laid in again under pressure, but Bentley was able to steer him off heels as he began to run on gamely over the top. He got to the front inside the final 50m and still wanted to lay in, but he crossed the line in front to win by three quarters of a length.
Runner-Up: CHARMING STEED jumped well and was pushed forward by Shinn in the early going and after a good piece of riding the gelding found himself on the back of the leader as they turned down the back. Shinn didn’t push his mount along to keep in touch with the leader as they got away, remaining poised as he stuck to the rail entering the straight. He sprinted well along the inside rail but just found one better on the day.
Run Of The Race: ICE LEGEND was having just his fifth start in Hong Kong and is already on his third trainer, but he finally broke through for his maiden victory. He wanted to do a bit wrong in the straight, but he appears to have some ability and once he’s able to put it all together he may be able to string a few wins together.
Disappointment: GREAT HARVEST lobbed just worse than midfield after jumping from an awkward barrier but was able to find the rail early on under Joao Moreira. He found himself a long way off the leader in the stretched-out field, and despite the urgings from Moreira he was unable to bridge the gap, finishing back in 10th place, 4-1/4 lengths off the winner with a veterinary examination failing to find any abnormality.
Comparison: Just outside standard.
Market Mover: GREAT HARVEST and AQUILA were the ones punters wanted to be with.
Race 4 – Peng Chau Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:39.72 Standard Time: 1:40.00 Course/Class record: 1:38.83 Flying Elite
Winner: TOTAL POWER (AUS 6yo g Dundeel – Plumm) jumped well but was shifted across heels quickly from the awkward draw, finding a position just worse than midfield and one off the rail under Joao Moreira as they went down the side of the course. Moreira had him galloping freely down the back straight as the pace slowed slightly down the back straight, but this allowed Moreira to creep closer to the leader before asking the gelding to quicken with 550m remaining. Moreira moved three-wide but had cover as they turned came around the turn and already had the gelding under the whip as they straightened. He got to the front passing the 200m point and he continued to pull away over the concluding stages, dominating his rivals to win by 2-3/4 lengths.
Runner-Up: SUNNY DELIGHT wasn’t the fastest into stride and was taken straight back from the wide draw, settling in the final four of the field in the early stages. He appeared to be over racing in the first stages of the race, pulling hard as they turned down the back straight with Karis Teetan attempting to relax the gelding. He finally relaxed with 700m to run and Teetan got onto the back of the eventual winner as they came off the back. He came under heavy pressure though with 450m remaining but was picking up as they swung into the home straight. He stuck on well over the concluding stages to run into second position, despite being no match for the winner.
Run Of The Race: It was a dominant performance by Total Power who was simply too good for his rivals on the night. The early pace set him up well and Moreira rode him a peach, getting him into the clear and allowing him to lengthen down the centre of the track. A great performance.
Disappointment: TRAVEL GLORY had support at longer odds and Matthew Poon went to the front from barrier 10, leading the field for the majority of the race. After dictating terms in front, he was already weakening as they turned into the final straight and he continued to weaken despite the efforts of Poon. He would fall back through the field and finish 14-1/2 lengths off the winner in 11th place.
Comparison: Inside standard time.
Market Mover: EEVEE had plenty of support and TRAVEL GLORY was specked at double figures.
Race 5 – Green Island Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:09.61 Standard Time: 1:09.80 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends
Winner: SHADOW RUNNER (NZ 5yo g Bullbars – Sister City) got away cleanly and was able to lob in a beautiful position on the back of the leaders as they turned into the back straight with the gelding relaxing well under Karis Teetan. He enjoyed a brilliant run in transit behind the leading pair and moved off heels with 350m to go as Teetan went looking for the clear air. He didn’t quicken as expected, instead he ground his way to join and eventually pass the leader with 50m to run and he proved too strong in the dying stages to fend off his rivals and win by a neck.
Runner-Up: LUCKY ARCHANGEL jumped well but was caught wide and without cover in the early going after jumping from barrier 5, settling midfield before gaining cover with 800m remaining. Harry Bentley remained in the trail throughout the middle stages of the race and around the turn before angling into the clear as they turned into the straight with 350m left to run. He quickened well at the top of the straight to run up and join the leaders with 100m remaining, but he was just out-muscled late as he couldn’t get past the winner.
Run Of The Race: LORIZ was like a shot out of a cannon when the gates opened, quickly accounting for his wide draw to go cross and be one off the rail as they turned down the back. He was leading despite being on the outside of a rival throughout the race, but he travelled well into the turn and put in a good kick at the top of the straight. He was impressive over the concluding stages and wouldn’t go away, finishing in third after the tough run. A win doesn’t look far away.
Disappointment: THUNDERSTRIKE was sent out as a $7.10 chance but settled in the back half of the field after jumping from barrier 6. He travelled toward the back of the field with the pace quite good throughout as Joao Moreira began to apply the pressure, improving around the outside of his rivals with 400m remaining. He was pushed wide on the turn and was the widest runner on straightening, but he was still in the hunt for the win before peaking on his run with 200m to go. He would end up finish in 9th position, beaten 4-1/2 lengths with a veterinary examination unable to find any abnormalities.
Comparison: Inside the standard.
Market Mover: All the money came for SHADOW RUNNER.
Race 6 – Lantau Island Handicap, HK $2,400,000
Class 2 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:38.36 Standard Time: 1:39.30 Course/Class record: 1:37.97 Tsar
Winner: BEAUTY JOY (AUS 5yo g Sebring – Impressive Journey) was a touch slow into stride but picked up well under Zac Purton to end up settling around midfield and along the rail as they went past the winning post on the first occasion. He was travelling well under Purton throughout the middle stages as the pace began to slow steadily, allowing him to only be a couple of lengths off the leader as they turned off the back straight. Purton began to try and improve his position on the turn, coming off the rail with 400m to go but was held up for some time as they straightened. The gap opened up shortly after straightening and the gelding quickened well to burst through the gap and pick up the leader with 50m to run, finishing the better to win comfortably by a neck.
Runner-Up: SAVAQUIN jumped on terms and quickly crossed behind runners to settle midfield and one off the rail under Joao Moreira, who had got him into a great rhythm early in the race. He travelled well throughout the middle stages, as Moreira began to apply the pressure with 500m to go, pulling out three-wide to build his momentum into the straight. He was already under a heavy ride as they turned into the straight, but he was responding, going up to take the lead with 150m to run. He tried his hardest, but he was just beaten by one better on the day.
Run Of The Race: BEAUTY JOY showed great versatility today, taking a trail today rather than settling up on the pace as he had done in his previous starts. He showed a great dash in the straight to gun down the leader and win impressively. Zac Purton said in a post-race interview that he believes the gelding still has more to offer, which is a great sign going forward that he can win more races.
Disappointment: C P BRAVE jumped as a $9.20 chance but settled near the tail of the field after jumping from the widest gate. He remained there throughout the race, but failed to pick up when placed under pressure by Vincent Ho over the concluding stages. He would finish in 9th place, beaten 5-3/4 lengths with a veterinary examination failing to reveal any abnormality.
Comparison: Nearly a second inside standard.
Market Mover: SOLAR WAI WAI and SUNNY STAR were well backed.
Race 7 – Cheung Chau Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:09.21 Standard Time: 1:09.50 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision
Winner: WINNING METHOD (AUS 5yo g Holy Roman Emperor – Out Of Egypt) jumped fairly from the inside draw and was positioned about midfield and along the rail under Matthew Chadwick. He was racing a touch keen down the back straight, but Chadwick was able to get him to relax as they turned off the back. Chadwick came away from the rail on the turn and ended up being four or five-wide as they turned into the straight with Chadwick beginning to ramp up the pressure aboard the gelding. He let down beautifully down the centre of the track to mow down the leaders and take the lead with 50m to go, before easing away to win comfortably by a length.
Runner-Up: THE RUNNER was ridden up from his wide gate but couldn’t muster the required pace to cross the field, with Matthew Poon having to settle wide and without cover as they turned down the back. Poon pushed on down the back straight and after doing a bit of work, he was finally able to get across and settle on the outside of the leader. He continued to be under pressure from Poon heading into the straight. It looked like he was going backwards early in the straight, but he showed his strength to fight on and run into second position.
Run Of The Race: THE RUNNER was very impressive tonight, after being trapped three-wide without cover, he had to do plenty of work to cross to sit outside of the leader. He showed his toughness tonight, and with a better draw and run in transit, there’s a win in store in the near future.
Disappointment: EXCELLENT CHARIOT jumped fairly and was able to find cover down the back straight, but was fighting the rider midway down the back straight. He came under pressure with 500m to run and was pushed very wide n the turn, being beyond the centre of the track as they straightened. He couldn’t rally in the straight and would finish 5-1/2 lengths off the win in 8th spot.
Comparison: Inside standard.
Market Mover: Money came for EXCELLENT CHARIOT who was backed into $5.10.
Race 8 – Lamma Island Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:39.49 Standard Time: 1:39.75 Course/Class record: 1:38.55 Telecom Fighters
Winner: GORYTUS (IRE 4yo g Footstepsinthesand – Julieta) was a touch slow away and was immediately taken back by Vincent Ho, settling at the rear of the field in the opening stages. Ho would remain in last position throughout the race before beginning to improve his position with 700m to run, following a move three-wide to keep cover as he moved around the outside of the field. He tracked into the race very nicely on the turn and despite being pushed wide as they straightened, Ho still hadn’t asked for maximum effort. He let down brilliantly when Ho pushed the button, sprinting well to join the leaders with 150m to run before taking the lead shortly afterward. He continued to pull away in the closing stages to win easily by 2 lengths.
Runner-Up: MEANINGFUL STAR was also a bit slow into stride but showed good pace when Harry Bentley crossed behind runners early and was caught three-wide as they went down the side of the course. Bentley was able to slot in one off the rail in a midfield position with 1000m to run as he travelled nicely down the back straight. Bentley lost some positions turning off the back as the pace slowed and the moves came, but he was able to get clear running at the top of the straight and he began to run on well. He was strong to the line to get the nod for second in a photo finish, but he just found one better on the day.
Run Of The Race: GORYTUS was just far too strong down the straight, eating up the ground and charging over the top of his rivals to win in impressive fashion.
Disappointment: Joao Moreira was suspended for his ride aboard ZONE D with the stewards under the impression the premiership leading jockey didn’t ride his mount out to the finish. He weaved his way through the field in the straight and was running on well to the line, but just missed the placings in a three-way photo finish. If Zone D could’ve finished closer we will never know, but it’s a big blow for Moreira, as well as for the punters who backed the $2.20 favourite.
Comparison: Inside the standard time.
Market Mover: ZONE D jumped a well-supported favourite with HALL OF CHAMP also being supported along with EVERYONE’S DELIGHT and SACRED IBIS at double figure odds.
Race 9 – Cheung Chau Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:09.35 Standard Time: 1:09.50 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision
Winner: LOVING A BOOM (IRE 7yo g Acclamation – Elektra Marino) jumped on terms and was quickly eased back by Blake Shinn to take a trail along the running rail in the early stages. He settled around midfield as they turned down the back straight with the pace being quite good through the middle stages, with Shinn holding his position down the back straight and around the turn. The Australian stuck to the inside rail on straightening and the gelding quickened nicely when placed under pressure, scraping along the rail to take the lead in the final few strides and get the win by a neck.
Runner-Up: EASON was sent forward from the wide gate by Matthew Poon after jumping well, getting across to sit on the outside of the leader as they headed down the back straight. He travelled well under Poon as they eased the tempo slightly around the turn. It took him a while to shake off the leader in the straight, only getting to the lead with 50m to go, but he couldn’t fight off the fast-finishing winner along the inside.
Run Of The Race: EASON turned in another fantastic effort, coming across from the wide gate to sit on the speed and only be beaten a neck at the finish. He’s been impressive in his three starts to date, and where he gets to is yet to be determined, but he looks a progressive galloper for the future.
Disappointment: TORONADO PHANTOM wasn’t fully a disappointment, but he was well-backed into favouritism and many thought he’d be closer at the finish. He just did a bit wrong in the straight, but he’s not worth throwing away yet, there’s still plenty of wins left in store.
Comparison: Inside the standard time.
Market Mover: TORONADO PHANTOM jumped a well-backed favourite, with money also coming for WOOD ON FIRE.
Total Power and Joao Moreira, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club