The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, May 18th, 2022
Race 1 – Waglan Island Handicap, HK $780,000
Class 5 – Turf – Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:40.62 Standard Time: 1:40.25 Course/Class record: 1:38.91 All Joyful
Winner: SMILING FACE (GB 5yo g Acclamation – Enigmatique) was away only fairly, and was taken back to the tail of the field under Lyle Hewitson. The in-form jockey was able to improve his position slightly around the first turn, settling just worse than midfield as they travelled down the side of the course. He travelled comfortably down the back straight, remaining along the inside rail with the pace being quite good throughout the middle stages. Hewitson was able to improve between runners passing the 500m mark, with the South African hoop continuing to push his mount along as he got into clear air turning into the home straight. He ran on strongly down the centre of the track to hit the front with 125m to run and was far too good over the concluding stages, putting his rivals to bed for an easy 1-1/2 length victory. It was his first win in 30 starts, but tonight showed there might be something to work with going forward.
Runner-Up: DAILY BEAUTY got away on terms under Luke Ferraris, who tried to slide the gelding back to slot into the running line about midfield. He had no luck however, and was caught three-wide heading around the first turn, with the South African jockey eventually taking him back to sit at the rear of the field. He remained there throughout the middle stages, with Ferraris eventually asking for an effort with 500m remaining. The gelding was under the whip shortly after, with Ferraris having to stick to the inside and ride for luck as they swung into the straight. He was momentarily held up on straightening, but he had a relatively unobstructed run down the straight, shooting through gaps between runners over the final stages. He ran on boldly to finish a clear second, but he was no match for the winner.
Run Of The Race: SEA MONARCH is right down at the bottom of Class 5, but his effort tonight was very good. He’s a maiden after 16 starts and he hasn’t placed in a race since June 2020, but just missed the placings tonight after being caught three-wide without cover for the first half of the race. Matthew Poon then pushed on down the back straight to take the lead, and still led by a length as they turned for home. He began to weaken over the concluding stages, but was responding well to Poon’s urgings as he held on for fourth in a blanket finish for the minor placings.
Disappointment: RUN THE TABLE was caught four-wide heading around the first turn and had to do plenty of work to find the front under Blake Shinn. The Australian hoop tried to dictate proceedings from the front, but handed up the leading role down the back straight to take a trail around the home turn. He mounted a challenge early in the straight, but began to weaken inside the final 200m and finished back in 9th place, beaten 5 lengths.
Comparison: Not far outside the standard.
Market Mover: MAN UP and ANONYMA both had support at double figures.
Race 2 – Tiu Chung Chau Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:39.60 Standard Time: 1:40.00 Course/Class record: 1:38.83 Flying Elite
Winner: WIN WIN FIGHTER (IRE 4yo g Elzaam – Vocal) got away well from an outside draw and thanks to some Blake Shinn Brilliance, the gelding had landed in a brilliant position midfield and one off the fence as they turned out of the home straight. Shinn had the gelding travelling well down the back and was sitting pretty as they began making the turn, with Shinn commencing a run three-wide as they turned for home. The gelding had built plenty of momentum turning for home and carried on his effort to take the lead with a furlong to run. He laid in under pressure inside the final furlong, but there was no grounds for a protest as the four-year-old dashed away to win impressively by 1-3/4 lengths.
Runner-Up: JOLLY HONOUR was a bit slow into stride and was squeezed momentarily at the start, losing a bit of ground early on, but the gelding mustered well under Karis Teetan to settle midfield along the rail as they rounded the first turn. The pace was good, and the field strung out down the side of the course, which allowed the Teetan to shift away from the rail and get onto the back of the eventual winner with 800m to run. He travelled nicely turning for home, but the winner was off and gone by the time Jolly Honour hit top gear. He stuck on well over the final stages to run into second place, but he was no match for the winner.
Run Of The Race: Blake Shinn’s ride at the start of the race is one of the main reasons why WIN WIN FIGHTER was far too good today. Shinn was able to get him into the prime real estate shortly after the jump, allowing the gelding an economical run throughout. He timed the run to perfection turning for home and the four-year-old had plenty left in the tank to go on with the job. He’ll be hard to beat again next start.
Disappointment: E LEGEND was fast away from an outside draw and was able to slide across and sit outside the leader throughout the race. He was there to win if good enough, even taking the lead momentarily at the top of the straight, but he ran out of gas in the closing stages and weakened back through the field. He finished in 7th place, beaten 5 lengths after jumping as the second-favourite.
Comparison: Well inside the standard time.
Market Mover: WIN WIN FIGHTER had support late in betting, along with ON EXCEL STAR at double figures.
Race 3 – Tung Lung Chau Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1800m - Track Good
Time: 1:50.05 Standard Time: 1:49.40 Course/Class record: 1:48.10 Acclaimed Light
Winner: TELECOM CHEETAH (NZ 5yo g Pins – Princessabeel) appeared to jump on terms but was taken back to the tail of the field as soon as the gates opened, with Alex Badel settling a clear last place as they turned down the side of the course. The pace was genuine through the first half of the race as the leaders tried to sort their order out, meaning Badel was spotting the leader 10-1/2 lengths with 800m left to run. He was travelling nicely, but appeared to have no chance as the passed the 400m point, with the five-year-old still a whopping 8-1/2 lengths off the leader as the swung into the straight. The French hoop didn’t swing wide on the turn, instead picking his way through the field with the gelding quickening superbly at the top of the straight. He came off heels and into the clear, running over the top of the field to get up in the final 50m to win by a half-length in an unbelievable win.
Runner-Up: CHATER PINS was away only fairly and after copping a couple of bumps after the jump, the gelding found his position under Vagner Borges, sitting in the second half of the field and along the rail. He too found himself a long way back with the quick pace set through the middle stages, but the gelding was travelling comfortably under Borges who began asking for an effort 400m from home. Borges got away from the rail as they turned into the straight, with the gelding darting back to the inside of the field to continue his run. He appeared to have the lead inside the final 100m, but the winner was far too strong over the final stages. He finished second, but there was a big 1-1/2 length gap back to third position.
Run Of The Race: TELECOM CHEETAH never looked like winning when they swung into the straight, but everything worked out perfectly for the five-year-old, charging home over the top to get the job done at big odds.
Disappointment: ASIAN ONE got away well and went through to take the lead passing the winning post on the first occasion, but was racing fiercely under Matthew Poon. Poon tried his hardest to get the gelding to settle, but he continued to over race down the side of the course and into the back straight. He eventually relaxed down the back straight, but he was a spent force a long way from home, coming under heavy pressure and weakening badly with 500m to run. He would eventually finish 9-1/2 lengths away in last place.
Comparison: Outside standard.
Market Mover: FAST PACE and CHATER PINS were both specked at double figures.
Race 4 – Ninepin Group Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:10.75 Standard Time: 1:09.80 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends
Winner: CHARMING STEED (FR 4yo g Charm Spirit – Militante) jumped quickly and was ridden along by Blake Shinn in the early going to cross from his awkward barrier, settling just outside the leader as they headed into the back straight. The pace was only fair and the four-year-old had it relatively easily out in front, travelling into the race nicely on the turn. He quickened nicely at the top of the straight to hit the front with a furlong to run, but wasn’t pulling away from his opposition once he’d taken the lead. He had a rival flashing up the inside late in the race, but he was able to hold on under the urgings of Shinn to get the win in a photo finish, with the official margin being a short head.
Runner-Up: SHINING FORTUNE got away well from gate 3 and was able to slide to the inside right from the start, holding his position without having to do any work turning into the back straight. He eventually gained a trail on the leader’s back travelling down the back straight, sitting a couple of lengths off the lead throughout the middle stages and around the turn. He quickened nicely into the straight, with Luke Currie sticking to the inside on straightening. The gelding took a while to hit top gear, but he really motored over the closing stages to make things very interesting at the finish, but it was too little, too late.
Run Of The Race: CHARMING STEED was very good in winning, jumping well, making light work of the awkward barrier and then having enough left in the tank to hold off the late challenger late in the race.
Disappointment: GOOD NEWS was slow away from the inside draw and settled near the tail of the field around the first turn, and had to be restrained shortly after entering the back straight. He was still almost last turning for home, and he failed to make much ground down the straight. He was only fair over the final stages and finished in 8th place, beaten 4 lengths.
Comparison: Way outside the standard.
Market Mover: MELBOURNE HALL was the best backed runner late in betting.
Race 5 – Ninepin Group Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:10.51 Standard Time: 1:09.80 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends
Winner: OVERSUBSCRIBED (AUS 6yo g Reward For Effort – Underfoot) jumped on terms but was snagged back to the rear of the field right away under Alex Badel, with the gelding sitting a clear last rounding the first turn. He was still sitting over a length off the second-last horse passing the 800m point, but Badel began to improve his position as they topped the rise, getting a nice trail into the race three-wide turning off the back. He improved swiftly to be midfield as they turned into the home straight, despite being some four-or-five-wide turning for home. It didn’t matter though as the gelding quickened brilliantly at the top of the straight to capture the lead with 150m left to run, inching away with every stride thereafter to go on and win by half-a-length at massive $68 odds.
Runner-Up: STOICISM was one of the first out of the barriers, but wasn’t shoved along to find the front by Luke Ferraris, with the gelding being caught three-wide without cover around the first turn and into the back straight. Ferraris eventually pushed on to take the lead midway down the back, slowing the pace a touch through the middle stages. He quickened well on the turn to lead by just over a length turning for home. He stuck on gamely down the stretch, but the winner blew right past him with 100m to run.
Run Of The Race: OVERSUBSCRIBED had been well beaten his past two outings and went around at huge odds tonight, but proved far too good in the run home. He got a good trail into the race and put his rivals away with a blistering finishing burst.
Disappointment: HARMONY N HOME jumped well and landed midfield between runners in the run under Zac Purton. He had lost plenty of positions turning for home though and was toward the rear as they swung into the straight. He didn’t have the clearest of passages in the straight, but he wasn’t going well enough to make his presence felt either. He finished 3 lengths away in 9th place.
Comparison: Well outside standard, but faster than the Ninepin Group Handicap in race 4.
Market Mover: SINGAPORE SPIRIT had plenty of support late in betting.
Race 6 – Kau Sai Chau Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.51 Standard Time: 1:09.50 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision
Winner: VALIANT ELEGANCE (AUS 5yo g Salade – Lolly Lover) was away only fairly from barrier 8, but with a good pace set early on, Lyle Hewitson was able to slide across and settle midfield, one off the rail. Hewitson eventually worked his way across to the inside as they turned off the back straight, scooting along the inside rail and quickening nicely on the turn to be within striking distance of the leader. The South African hoop came out toward the centre of the track on straightening and the gelding let down beautifully to get to the lead with 50m to run. He hit the front and proved far too strong in the closing stages, getting the job done by a half-length and bringing up a hat-trick of wins in the process.
Runner-Up: MAGIC PHOENIX got away well and was running in the leading division through the first turn, before Blake Shinn pushed on to take the lead down the back stretch. Shinn was eventually able to cross to the inside with 700m to run, but kept the field running turning off the back as travelled comfortably around the turn and into the straight. He stuck on well down the home straight and didn’t go down without a fight, but in the end the winner was just too good.
Run Of The Race: VALIANT ELEGANCE was brilliant tonight, bringing up three wins in-a-row in great style. He had led in all three of his prior wins this season, but he showed he was able to win without dictating from the front tonight, taking a sit and running over the top of his rivals in good fashion.
Disappointment: SCOTCH TYCOON got away on terms but was caught wide through the first turn under Karis Teetan. He was left racing wide and without cover down the back straight, but was travelling well in the back half of the field. He had every chance of making ground in the straight, but was very plain, finishing in 10th place, beaten 5 lengths.
Comparison: Almost bang on the standard time.
Market Mover: DROPS OF GOD jumped a well-backed favourite at $3.70.
Race 7 – Kau Sai Chau Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:10.01 Standard Time: 1:09.50 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision
Winner: SKY FOREVER (AUS 4yo g Not A Single Doubt – Tango) initially jumped well, but didn’t have as much pace as some of his rivals despite Derek Leung’s best efforts, with the gelding settling worse than midfield and along the rail. He travelled well through the middle stages and was trucking along nicely around the turn, but just needed a way clear if he was going to have any chance of winning. Much to the delight of Leung, the leaders came off the fence, allowing the four-year-old to stick to the inside rail and never go around a runner. He worked through his gears nicely to take the lead inside the final 50m and was too strong in the final few bounds to win by a neck.
Runner-Up: XPONENTIAL jumped quickly and showed good pace under Lyle Hewitson from a middle draw, pushing on to lead around the first turn, with Hewitson eventually sliding over to the inside passing the 800m point. The South African slowed the tempo turning off the back straight, stacking the field up before quickening once again as they turned for home. He hung in there for a long way down the straight, fighting off challengers early in the straight, but running out of steam somewhat at the finish.
Run Of The Race: Derek Leung needed plenty of luck in the final stages, and when he got it, SKY FOREVER didn’t let him down. It took a while for the gelding to wind up, but there was no stopping him once he got moving. A great win and you’d think he would be better when he’s able to wind up away from the rail.
Disappointment: STORMTROUPER was away only fairly and raced in the back half of the field throughout. Although he was racing wide, he did have through the entire event and had ample room turning for home to mount a challenge. Just as he was starting to make ground, the runners in front of him shifted into his path, forcing Matthew Poon to restrain the gelding and go to the finish untested. He would finish back in 10th place, beaten 4-1/2 lengths in an unlucky run.
Comparison: Way outside the standard.
Market Mover: SKY FOREVER went off as a well-backed $3.40 favourite.
Race 8 – Ma Wan Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf – Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:39.64 Standard Time: 1:39.75 Course/Class record: 1:38.55 Telecom Fighters
Winner: LOYAL BABY (IRE 5yo g War Command – Queens Flight) got away well off the inside barrier and was able to hold his position along the rail, settling on the leader’s back as they turned out of the straight. He ended up a pair further back down the straight, but Matthew Chadwick was able to come away from the rail and land in the prime one-out-one-back position as they turned into the back straight. He travelled comfortably through the middle stages with the pace being good down the back, with Chadwick holding his position until the 400m point where he angled out three-wide. He quickened into the race nicely at the top of the straight and took the lead with a furlong to run. He stuck on well once in front to fend off his rivals, pulling away over the concluding stages to stretch the final margin to a length for his first victory in Hong Kong.
Runner-Up: RED MAJESTY got away quickly and held the early lead under Blake Shinn, but was taken on down the side of the course and eventually settled on the leader’s back in third position. He enjoyed a cosy run through the middle stages, with Shinn sitting right on the leader’s tail down the back straight and around the turn. Shinn stuck to the inside on straightening, sliding along the rail to go up and join the leaders with a furlong to run. He ground away along the inside and essentially outstayed everyone bar the winner, who proved too strong over the final stages.
Run Of The Race: LOYAL BABY was having this 17th start in Hong Kong, bringing up his first victory in the jurisdiction. It was a good win and he can go on with the job now.
Disappointment: PACKING FAMOUS jumped fairly but was taken back by Vincent Ho in the early going, attempting to slot into the running line shortly after the start. He was left racing three-wide and without cover turning down the side of the course and continued to race that way for the remainder of the event. He was shoved even wide on the turn, and had nothing left in the tank with Ho asked for an effort in the latter stages. He finished in 11th place, beaten 8-1/4 lengths, with Ho also expressing his disappointment in the gelding.
Comparison: Just inside the standard.
Market Mover: VIVA HUNTER had plenty of support late in betting.
Race 9 – Grass Island Handicap, HK $2,400,000
Class 2 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.43 Standard Time: 1:09.30 Course/Class record: 1:08.46 Harmony And Rich
Winner: KEEP YOU WARM (IRE 5yo g No Nay Never – Dacio) was quickly into stride and went held the early lead under Zac Purton, who slid over to settle one off the rail around the first turn. Despite the quick start, Purton wasn’t interested in leading and allowed his rivals to vie for the front positions, settling in a trailing position on the leader’s back. He stalked the leader around the turn and was able to come off heels with ease on straightening, joining the leader with Purton sitting motionless aboard the five-year-old. When the Australian hoop pushed the button, it was all over. The five-year-old shot away in a matter of strides, with Purton easing the gelding down over the final 40m for an easy two-length victory.
Runner-Up: LUCKY WITH YOU got away on terms and was able to land in a great spot, midfield and away from the rail, with Karis Teetan having plenty of galloping room around him. The Mauritian crossed down to the rail as they turned off the back straight, enjoying an economic run as he followed the eventual winner around the turn and into the straight. He chased hard over the concluding stages, but the winner was far too good.
Run Of The Race: What a performance by KEEP YOU WARM who made light work of what was a very competitive field. He was ridden brilliantly by Zac Purton, and if he’s able to produce an effort like that at his next start, he can continue to win.
Disappointment: CAMPIONE was a touch slow out of the barriers and did plenty of work to try and settle on the pace under Matthew Poon. He came under pressure a long way from home and never really responded to the urgings, finishing back in 9th place, beaten 6-1/4 lengths. Poon told Stewards that the gelding raced greenly throughout, and attributed the average start and his first time at Happy Valley to the disappointing effort.
Comparison: Just outside the standard time.
Market Mover: CAMPIONE was well supported right throughout betting, being backed into favouritism at the jump.
Double for Lyle Hewitson and Douglas Whyte, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club