The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, May 11th, 2022
Race 1 – Tan Shan River Handicap, HK $780,000
Class 5 – Turf – Distance 2200m - Track Yielding
Time: 2:20.25 Standard Time: 2:17.40 Course/Class record: 2:15.87
Winner: FORTUNE TRIPLE (IRE 5yo g Lope de Vega – Kerry Gal) got away on terms and Derek Leung was able to slide across and slot into the running line shortly after the jump, settling a touch worse than midfield. They were sauntering down the straight with a lap to go, but the five-year-old was travelling comfortably despite the slow tempo. He found himself near the tail of the field with 1000m to run, with his rivals beginning to make mid-race moves down the side of the course, with Leung happy to sit three-wide with cover heading down the back. Leung began to improve from the 800m point, sliding around the outside of the field to be about midfield again turning off the back. Plenty of his rivals were stuck in the mud with 400m to run, but the son of Lope de Vega was tracking into the race nicely, entering the straight about 4 horses off the rail. It was a war of attrition up the straight, but the five-year-old was able to take the lead with 100m to run and inch away over the final stages to win by a neck on the line.
Runner-Up: AMAZING BOY was one of the fastest out of the barriers, but handed up the lead on settling down to sit midfield and along the inside under Zac Purton. He travelled well through the middle stages and was still sitting a bit worse than midfield passing the 800m point, but Purton began to make his move with 600m to run, slicing his way through the field. Purton hadn’t let the gelding go as they went past the 400m point, with the gelding trucking up nicely behind the leaders as they turned for home. He stuck to the inside on straightening and tried his heart out right to the line, but the winner just travelled home the stronger.
Run Of The Race: FORTUNE TRIPLE handled the conditions and was given a peach of a ride by Derek Leung throughout the run. He never got stuck behind runners, building his momentum nicely turning for home and showing plenty of strength to outstay his rivals.
Disappointment: PASSING FASHION sat outside the leader throughout the race and although the pace was only moderate throughout, he came under pressure a long way from home. He didn’t respond to the urgings of Vagner Borges, and weakened badly in the home straight to finish 14-3/4 lengths off the leader in 10th place. Borges told stewards’ after the race that the gelding failed to handle the yielding track conditions.
Comparison: Way outside the standard on a deteriorating track.
Market Mover: LOYAL AMBITION was specked right on jump time.
Race 2 – Tai Shing Stream Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Yielding
Time: 1:42.70 Standard Time: 1:40.00 Course/Class record: 1:38.83 Flying Elite
Winner: KYRUS UNICORN (IRE 6yo g Havana Gold – Zindana) was a touch slow away from the outside gate and was shifted behind runners right away by Blake Shinn, settling at the rear of the field. The pace was good through the middle stages, with Shinn still racing at the tail of the field throughout and still a whopping 8 lengths off the leader with 400m to run. The Australian hoop stuck to the inside on straightening and the flashy grey showed a brilliant turn-of-foot to quickly eat into the margin. He never went around a horse, sliding along the inside to get his nose in front in the final few strides to get the nod in a photo finish.
Runner-Up: BLISSFUL STAR got away well from barrier 2 and landed in a terrific spot under Karis Teetan, slotting in behind the leaders to sit in the one-one position. He had lost some ground down the side though and as the field finally sorted their order out, he was in a more off-pace position as they headed down the back straight. The leader kicked clear turning off the back and Teetan began to get to work atop his mount, ending up near the centre of the track as on straightening and continuing to stay out there right down the home stretch. It was tricky to gauge whether he was in front or not, with the two front-runners wide apart, but he just couldn’t get the bob in time. He finished second by a short head, with the first three across the line putting 3 lengths on the next horse.
Run Of The Race: BIG TWO jumped an odds-on favourite and raced keenly through the opening stages of the race, with Zac Purton having to restrain the gelding off heels on a number of occasions. Purton finally got the gelding to settle heading down the back straight and responded well when the Australian placed him under pressure rounding the home turn. He got to the front but was only battling and was unable to hold off the winners, but he stuck on well for third place.
Disappointment: FAST PACE got to the front and dictated proceedings when he got there, setting a good pace to keep the field running before kicking clear around the home turn. He was quickly reeled in though, and had nothing left to offer in the straight. He weakened back through the field to finish in 9th place, beaten 7-3/4 lengths.
Comparison: Well outside standard.
Market Mover: BIG TWO was the one punters wanted to be with, jumping a $1.90 favourite.
Race 3 – Tai Shing Stream Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Yielding
Time: 1:42.24 Standard Time: 1:40.00 Course/Class record: 1:38.83 Flying Elite
Winner: NIMBLE NIMBUS (NZ 4yo g Sacred Falls – Marahau) got away brilliantly from barrier 1 and was ridden along to hold his position along the inside. Lyle Hewitson made the leaders work to cross him down the side of the course, eventually settling on the leader’s back in third position once the field had settled fully into stride. Hewitson stalked the leader right throughout the run, peeling off his back with 400m to go and taking the lead shortly after. He sprinted clear as soon as Hewitson pushed the button and never looked like getting beat in the home straight, extending his margin the further the race went on, bolting in by 5 lengths in a brilliant effort.
Runner-Up: AMAZING NEWS jumped fairly and settled about midfield under Joao Moreira, racing between runners through the opening and middle stages of the race. He travelled comfortably throughout, but struck trouble around the turn just as Moreira was beginning to build into the race. He had nowhere to go between the 450m and the 350m point, but finally found an opening as they swung into the straight. He battled away gamely in the home straight to hold on to second place in a photo finish, but the winner was just far too good.
Run Of The Race: NIMBLE NIMBUS relished the deteriorating conditions tonight and absolutely bolted in. The son of Sacred Falls was always going to love the slop, and bought up his second career victory in dominating fashion. Where he goes next is up to the handicapper, but he is worth following.
Disappointment: SIXTH GENERATION had to do plenty of work through the early stages of the race to cross from his wide barrier and eventually find the lead under Matthew Chadwick. He had used plenty of petrol though, with the gelding coming under heavy pressure with 500m to run and not responding to Chadwick’s riding whatsoever. He weakened badly in the straight and finished a very long last, with a veterinary examination failing to find any abnormality.
Comparison: Well outside standard, but quicker than the Tai Shing Stream Handicap in race 2.
Market Mover: All they money was for AMAZING NEWS who jumped favourite at $3.40.
Race 4 – Shan Pui River Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Yielding
Time: 1:12.01 Standard Time: 1:08.60 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends
Winner: ABOVE ALL (AUS 4yo g Deep Field – Blueridge Cat) got away quickly from barrier 4 and actually held a clear advantage shortly after the gates opened, with Ruan Maia able to cross to the inside with ease before turning into the back straight. The gelding travelled comfortably rounding the first turn, holding the inside as rivals finally crossed him from out deeper on the track with 700m remaining. He stalked the leaders around the turn and just needed a way clear at the top of the straight, with Maia pushing his way into the clear as they turned for home. The gelding quickened beautifully to take the lead with a furlong to run and put his rivals to the sword, shooting away inside the final 100m to win very impressively by 3-1/4 lengths.
Runner-Up: EXCELLENT PEERS got away on terms and mustered good pace to go through and settle on the back of the eventual winner as they rounded the first turn. He travelled well throughout the run and came out into the clear as they turned for home, with Joao Moreira asking for maximum effort at the top of the straight. The gelding loomed up momentarily, but the winner quickly put him away, with the gelding having to settle for a distant second place.
Run Of The Race: ABOVE ALL was simply too good for his rivals today, absolutely bolting in. He quickened well at the top of the straight and sustained that run brilliantly to never give his rivals a chance. Ruan Maia eased him down over the final stages to win in emphatic fashion.
Disappointment: SO AWESOME jumped awkwardly and was unable to slot into the running line, settling worse than midfield. He was racing wide, but had cover throughout the run. Karis Teetan asked the gelding to quicken rounding the home turn, but the effort was short lived, with the Mauritian hoop easing up on the gelding shortly after entering the straight. He went to the line under hands and heels, finishing in 10th place and beaten 8-3/4 lengths.
Comparison: Outside the standard time by 3.4 seconds.
Market Mover: ABOVE ALL was heavily backed, halving his quote to jump $9.20. EXCELLENT PEERS was also specked.
Race 5 – Nam Chung River Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1000m – Track Good
Time: 58.22 Standard Time: 57.05 Course/Class record: 56.39 Gentle Breeze
Winner: GORGEOUS VITALITY (AYS 3yo g Deep Field – Reggae) got away well from barrier 2 and was able to hold his position down low on the course, eventually settling just off the speed. He travelled well mid-race, but was held up momentarily on the home turn as Zac Purton just needed a way clear turning into the straight. He was able to shift off heels and get into the clear at the top of the straight, ending up near the centre of the track. He let down brilliantly to take the lead with 200m to run and sprinted clear. He shot away over the final stages, going on to win very impressively by 3-3/4 lengths.
Runner-Up: VIVA MAMA jumped quickly and was ridden along by Karis Teetan to get to the lead and cross to the rail. He set a quick tempo in front but appeared to be doing it comfortably through the middle stages, as Teetan attempted to kick away on straightening. He was taken on early in the straight, with the eventual winner blowing right past him, but he was able to fight off the other challenger who loomed up with 200m to run. He stuck on well in the conditions to finish a clear second.
Run Of The Race: GORGEOUS VITALITY had plenty on his rivals today, with Zac Purton having to do little work in the early stages before the gelding unleashed a brilliant burst of speed. He put his rivals away in a matter of strides, and there’s no reason why he can’t repeat the dose at his next outing.
Disappointment: HERO STAR got away well off the inside but was roused along by Leung for much of the event. He didn’t seem comfortably on the yielding surface, and when Leung pushed the button turning for home, there was little response. He weakened out of the race to finish in 9th place, beaten 6 lengths.
Comparison: Outside standard with the track continuing to deteriorate.
Market Mover: Punters came for VIVA MAMA late in betting.
Race 6 – Shan Pui River Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:11.58 Standard Time: 1:08.60 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends
Winner: ISLAND SHINE (NZ 6yo g Darci Brahma – Lucky Be Lucky) jumped fairly but didn’t muster much pace despite the efforts of Derek Leung, but found himself in a great position just worse than midfield on settling down. He had clear galloping room turning into the back straight and Leung stayed away from the inside initially, before crossing to the rail with 700m remaining. He saved plenty of ground around the turn, improving along the inside, but was held up around the turn with tiring horses in front of him. They came away from the rail through on the point of the turn, allowing Leung to stick to the inside on turning, before angling out into the clear toward the centre of the track. It took the gelding some time to wind up, but once he hit top gear it was all over. He took the lead with 75m remaining and left the field in his wake, sprinting away to win easily by 2 lengths.
Runner-Up: WINS ALL got away well but was cast very deep heading around the first turn and into the back straight, but there was no rush from Harry Bentley to put the gelding in the running line. He was left racing wide and without cover travelling down the back, sitting just forward of midfield once fully into stride. The gelding was able to finally get into the running line with 650m remaining, obtaining cover as they turned off the back. He was held up around the turn and Bentley was unable to ask the gelding for an effort once fully in the straight, where he quickened well to run into second, getting the nod in a photo finish.
Run Of The Race: ISLAND SHINE was given a brilliant ride by Derek Leung, picking his way through the field and giving the gelding ample time and space to get into his work. He was a cut above this field and can win again next time out.
Disappointment: TAKE WHAT YOU NEED settled just off the pace, but never looked comfortable on the yielding surface in the run. He came under heavy pressure from Lyle Hewitson a long way from the finish, but he stuck on well initially before weakening badly inside the final 200m of the race. He was beaten 7-1/4 lengths, finishing in 11th place.
Comparison: Well outside the standard time.
Market Mover: BINGO BINGO was the one punters came for, jumping a $2.90 favourite.
Race 7 – Lam Tsuen River Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf – Distance 1800m – Track Good
Time: 1:51.50 Standard Time: 1:49.20 Course/Class record: 1:47.91 Leap Of Faith
Winner: TIANCHI MONSTER (NZ 7yo g Shocking – Princess Biscotte) jumped on terms from barrier 7 and wasn’t rushed along in the opening stages, with Vincent Ho able to slide across and settle midfield, one off the rail with a lap remaining. The pace was only moderate turning down the back straight, which prompted Ho to take off with a mid-race move, going around the field relatively easily to find the front with 700m remaining. He continued on his run around the turn, extending his lead to 2 lengths passing the 400m point, leading comfortably as they turned for home. He extended his margin early in the straight, and although he began to tire late in the race, the gap was too far to bridge back. He went on to win comfortably by 2 lengths in a superbly judged ride by Vincent Ho.
Runner-Up: GAMEPLAYER TIMES jumped well from gate 4 but was shifted behind runners in the early stages by Lyle Hewitson. The South African jockey crossed right to the rail, before going forward once more to settle on the back of the leader as they turned off the back straight. He travelled well despite the slow tempo, remaining along the inside right down the back stretch, before coming away from the inside as they began making the turn with 500m to run. He was no match for the winner who was off and gone on straightening, but he showed good staying ability to run into second position.
Run Of The Race: You can’t go past TIANCHI MONSTER and the brilliant ride of Vincent Ho. He summed up the situation perfectly, and built a margin too big to bring back, despite the horse tiring late in the race. A brilliant performance.
Disappointment: MAJESTIC VICTORY was able to get across and sit outside the leader relatively easily under Luke Ferraris, before taking a trailing position in the one-out-one-back position once the field had settled into stride. He travelled well through the middle stages, but began losing ground from the 600m point and did not respond to the urgings of Ferraris. He finished in last place, beaten 8 lengths, with nothing in the stewards report other than no abnormalities were found in a post-race veterinary exam.
Comparison: Outside standard.
Market Mover: DARCI JOY was well backed late in betting.
Race 8 – Kam Tin River Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:11.29 Standard Time: 1:09.50 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision
Winner: SEIZING THE MOMENT (NZ 5yo g Per Incanto – Queen Alley) got away on terms, but didn’t show much pace despite Joao Moreira urging him along in the opening stages, with the gelding settling at the rear of the field. The pace was very quick up front, with the gelding able to tack onto the back of the field down the back straight. He was a whopping 7-3/4 lengths off the leader with 400m to run, and was already under the whip, but Moreira bought him right out wide in the straight and he began to let rip. He showed brilliant speed in the straight to gobble up the leader with 50m to run and continue on his merry way, pulling away to win by a length and bring up his trainer John Size’s 1400th winner in Hong Kong.
Runner-Up: BE READY jumped fairly from the widest gate, with Vince Ho happy to settle toward the rear of the field as they turned into the back straight. He was left racing wide and without cover early on, but was able to slot in midway down the back straight and have some cover around the home turn. He built up his momentum brilliantly around the turn, remaining with cover all the way, and coming out toward the centre of the track on straightening. It was a huge effort in defeat, sticking on gamely down the straight, but he was unable to hold off the winner in the dying stages.
Run Of The Race: You wouldn’t have been incorrect if you wrote off SEIZING THE MOMENT with 400m to run, but he let down brilliantly in the straight to mow down the front runners and get the job done. It was a terrific performance to continue his strong run of form. He’s never finished worse than fifth since arriving in Hong Kong, and I can’t see that streak ending anytime soon.
Disappointment: ROMAN TURBO had to do plenty of work to find his position in the run under Matthew Chadwick and had no petrol left in the tank when it mattered most. He began losing ground around the turn, and eventually weakened right out of the race to finish 11 lengths off the winner in last place.
Comparison: Well outside the standard.
Market Mover: PROUD DRAGON, STREET SCREAM and SCIENCE PATCH were all supported late in betting.
Race 9 – Kam Tin River Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:10.88 Standard Time: 1:09.50 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision
Winner: ASTROLOGER (AUS 3yo g Star Turn – Fast ‘N’ Witty) got away well from an inside draw and wasn’t roused along by Lyle Hewitson in the early stages, with the South African happy to settle midfield along the inside. The pace was good, but not frantic down the back straight, with Hewitson travelling comfortably as they began making the turn. Hewitson stuck to the inside around the turn, riding for luck which he got turning into the home straight. His competitors came away from the rail allowing him to scoot along the paint. It was tough going midway down the straight, with the gelding racing in restricted room, but he was able to bustle his way through to take the lead inside the final 100m and draw away, winning by a half-length on the line.
Runner-Up: YO BEAUTY anticipated the start beautifully and held the lead early on, before taking a trailing position on the back of the leader entering the back straight. Alex Badel had to restrain the gelding off heels down the back straight, but the five-year-old settled well through the middle of the event. Badel built up his momentum on the turn, and originally angled to the outside of the leader turning for home, but was forced to cross back to the inside once balanced in the straight. He and the eventual winner raced in tight room along the inside, but he couldn’t hold him off over the final stages. The winner was too strong in the end, but it was a brilliant effort by Yo Beauty.
Run Of The Race: ASTROLOGER bounced back from a disappointing effort in Class 2 company last start with an impressive win under the top weight tonight. He’s only a three-year-old so his best may still be ahead of him, and he’ll be worth following into next season.
Disappointment: LUCKY SWEYNESSE came into the night undefeated, but had a tough task ahead of him to carry 6 extra pounds on a very wet surface. He lost no admirers, but he had every opportunity to reel in the winner over the concluding stages. He’s a talented gelding and there’s no doubt he’ll bounce back.
Comparison: Outside standard.
Market Mover: LUCKY SWEYNESSE jumped a rock-solid favourite at $1.70.
1400 Hong Kong winners for trainer John Size, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club