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The Davis Files - Happy Valley review

The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, June 22nd, 2022 

Race 1 – Cochrane Handicap, HK $780,000

Class 5 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:41.13 Standard Time: 1:40.25 Course/Class record: 1:38.91 All Joyful

Winner: RUN THE TABLE (AUS 5yo g The Brothers War – Miss Cacciatore) was one of the first into stride from barrier 2 with Purton running up front as they turned out of the straight, before obtaining cover on the back of the leader around the first turn. He travelled comfortably right throughout the race under Purton who stuck to the back of the leader right until they turned into the straight. Purton had plenty of horse underneath him and just needed a way out on straightening, which came right along the inside rail with the leader drifting toward the centre of the track turning for home. He quickened well to take the lead with a furlong to run, with the gelding pulling away over the closing stages to win impressively by 1-1/4 lengths.

Runner-Up: GO FOR TEA jumped on terms from gate three, and with the early pace good turning out of the straight, Blake Shinn was able to cross to the rail and settle on the back of the eventual winner rounding the first turn. He too remained in that position throughout the race, sitting three pairs back and along the inside, Instead of sticking to the inside on straightening, Shinn came off heels around the turn and out toward the centre of the track, obtaining clear running right down the straight. He stuck on gamely to finish in second position, but he was no match for the winner.

Run Of The Race: RUN THE TABLE was just far too good for his rivals. He enjoyed a lovely run in the race and sprinted quickly along the inside to put the race to bed with 150m to go. It wouldn’t surprise to see him win again.

Disappointment: BEST FOR YOU enjoyed a nice run throughout the race, sitting in about fifth position with cover. Karis Teetan began making a move three-wide as they travelled by the 600m mark, but after initially quickening nicely, he just began plugging away as they turned for home. He began to weaken inside the 150m point, ending up in 10th place, beaten 4 lengths.

Comparison: Outside standard time.
Market Mover: PRIME STAR had some support late in betting.

Race 2 – Elgin Handicap, HK $780,000

Class 5 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:10.20 Standard Time: 1:10.20 Course/Class record: 1:09.17 Alloy King 

Winner: CIGAR BUDDIES (AUS 5yo g Written Tycoon – Sweet Home Chicago) anticipated the start beautifully and jumped a length in front of the rest of the field. Antoine Hamelin didn’t have to do any work to cross to the rail from barrier 2, leading with ease as they turned down the side of the course. Hamelin continued to hold a length advantage through the middle stages, with the gelding travelling beautifully as they swung into the straight. He was there to be caught if his rivals were good enough, but he just kept sticking on under the heavy pressure of Hamelin. He was able to hold his advantage right to the line, winning comfortably in the end by 1-1/4 lengths in a great performance.

Runner-Up: ARES was away on terms from barrier 7 and had to be roused along by Zac Purton, eventually crossing to sit on the outside of the leader as they turned down the back. He travelled well under the Australian hoop, sitting about a length off the leader throughout the middle stages. Purton started to wind the gelding up around the final turn, but he just plugged away down the straight despite Purton’s best efforts. He was unable to reel in the leader and was forced to settle for second place.

Run Of The Race: CIGAR BUDDIES was like a shot out of a cannon at the beginning of the race and held that advantage right throughout the event. He was rated brilliantly by Antoine Hamelin, and he never looked like being caught in the home straight.

Disappointment: ACA POWER was well-backed just prior to the start and settled midfield after jumping well from barrier 4. He travelled nicely in the run, but was under pressure with 450m to run and never really responded. He weakened right out of the race inside the final 150m, finishing in 11th place and beaten 6-1/4 lengths, but he was found to be displaying an irregular heart rhythm in a post-race vet exam. 

Comparison: Bang on the standard time.
Market Mover: REGENCY POET was heavily supported, being backed into $6.10, while ACA POWER was also specked.


Race 3 – The Hong Kong Young Industrialists Council 30th Anniversary Cup (Handicap), HK $1,040,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1000m - Track Good
Time: 57.07 Standard Time: 57.20 Course/Class record: 56.39 Gentle Breeze

Winner: SERGEANT PEPPER (AUS 4yo g I Am Invincible – Resonates) was quickly away from the barriers and was able to cross and sit in the leading pair with ease under Derek Leung. He was travelling well down the back and Leung allowed the leader to push on and cross him as they turned off the back, sitting just over a length off his back around the turn. Leung began applying the pressure before turning for home, with the gelding not quite handling the turn and drifting out toward the centre of the track. He quickened nicely to take the lead with 200m to run and he proved far too good in the closing stages, winning in fine style by 1-1/4 lengths.

Runner-Up: SEE U AGAIN got away on terms but didn’t show as much pace as his rivals through the opening stages, settling in behind the speed through the middle stages of the race. Zac Purton found himself 2-1/4 lengths away with 400m to run, but held the gelding together until they’d swung into the straight. He had every opportunity to reel in the winner if he was good enough, but the winner was just too good for him at the finish. He finished 2 lengths clear of third in a good effort.

Run Of The Race: SERGEANT PEPPER was just too good for his rivals. Derek Leung rode him very smartly, allowing the leader to cross him and sitting in the trail around the home turn. He didn’t really handle the turn into the straight, but he had built enough momentum to take the lead with 200m to run and be too strong in the finish.

Disappointment: CIRCUIT SEVEN jumped quickly and initially sat outside the eventual winner, before Alfie Chan pushed on to take the outright lead with 700m to run, crossing to the rail with 600m remaining. He held a good advantage to turn into the straight, but quickly weakened out of the race shortly after straightening. He fell back through the field to finish in 11th place, beaten 6-1/2 lengths.

Comparison: Inside standard time.
Market Mover: FABULOUS EIGHT had some backing at double figure odds.

Race 4 – Gage Handicap, HK $1,040,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:10.47 Standard Time: 1:09.80 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends

Winner: AMBITIOUS HEART (AUS 8yo g Captain Sonador – Pyramisa’s Lass) jumped on terms from barrier 4 and was hard ridden by Matthew Poon from the get-go. Poon elected to drift back out of the speed battle and settle in a trailing position as they turned down the back straight. He ended up travelling in the box seat through the middle stages, with Poon popping out three-wide with 400m to run as he began to improve into the straight. He built up the revs around the home turn and took the lead with 150m to run and stuck on well to win by a half-length.

Runner-Up: HARMONY N HOME got away on terms off the inside barrier but didn’t have the pace to keep up in the early going. Harry Bentley was able to use the inside to his advantage around the first turn and settle midfield as they travelled down the back straight. He was building into the race nicely around the turn but was held up with 400m to run. The field fanned out turning for home allowing Bentley to slice his way into the open with a furlong to run. He was forced to cross back into the inside with the leader drifting out, but he closed off well to narrow the margin back to half-a-length at the finish.

Run Of The Race: I’m not convinced the inside draw was good for HARMONY N HOME, who got held up with 400m to run but still closed off well to make things interesting in the finish. Happy to follow him out of this race and look for him to draw more of a middle barrier, rather than the inside.

Disappointment: PERFECT PEACH got away on terms but drifted back from the awkward barrier to settle near the tail of the field. He was checked badly turning off the back straight, with the stewards report reading that the gelding was reluctant to race to the inside of another runner passing the 600m point. From that point on, he was just simply too far back to feature, ending up in 11th place, beaten 6-1/4 lengths.

Comparison: Well outside standard.
Market Mover: DREAM BOSS and SHADOW RUNNER were both specked at double figure odds.

Race 5 – Graham Handicap, HK $1,040,000

Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:41.31 Standard Time: 1:40.00 Course/Class record: 1:38.83 Flying Elite

Winner: BULLETPROOF (NZ 5yo g Dissident – Tempting Delight) was one of the last to leave the barriers and was shifted across runners right at the start by Derek Leung, before being ridden-up to settle closer than the tail of the field. He didn’t get far though as he was still second last around the first turn and was eventually shuffled back to last position as they travelled down the side of the course. Leung moved three-wide down the back straight, but didn’t improve his position as he remained near the back of the field as they began making the turn with 600m to run. He finally began to improve around the field with 500m remaining, but was pushed right off the track around the final bend to be out beyond the centre of the track on straightening. He stormed home right down the outside part of the track to get in front inside the final 25m, running over the top of the field to win by a neck in a barnstorming finish.

Runner-Up: BLISSFUL STAR jumped well and was urged along by Zac Purton to get forward in the opening stages, but was stranded four-wide as they rounded the first turn. He was able to get three-wide down the side of the course, but he wasn’t working too hard facing the breeze with the pace only moderate down the back stretch. Purton eventually slid forward to get one off the fence on the outside of the leader with 700m remaining. Purton sat patiently on the outside of the leader before beginning to ramp up the pressure as they rounded the final turn. He responded well to the urgings of the Australian to get his nose in front with 200m remaining and was extending his margin to the rest of the field. He began to tire in the closing stages though, with the winner just far too strong down the outside to grab him in the shadows of the post.

Run Of The Race: What an eye-catching win from BULLETPROOF. He looked gone as they turned off the back straight, but stuck on brilliantly under the Derek Leung pressure to round up the field and get the job done. They were well outside standard time also, so if he finds a race with more pace in the future, he could do something similar.

Disappointment: REGENCY MASTER was ridden up in the early stages to hold a midfield position as they turned down the side of the course, but was continually shuffled back to end up near the tail of the field as they turned off the back. He came under pressure a long way from home and never really responded to the urgings of Karis Teetan, finishing in last place and beaten 9-1/4 lengths. A post-race veterinary exam failed to find any abnormality.

Comparison: Over a second outside the standard time.
Market Mover: RED BRICK FIGHTER and TELECOM CHEETAH had support at double figures.

Race 6 – Gage Handicap, HK $1,040,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:10.41 Standard Time: 1:09.80 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends

Winner: WINNING ICEY (AUS 3yo g Hinchinbrook – Ennerdale) wasn’t the fastest into stride and was taken back from the outside barrier, settling at the tail of the field under Luke Ferraris. The pace was good travelling down the back straight, but he did find himself 6-3/4 lengths off the leaders passing the 800m point. Ferraris held the gelding together through the middle stages, waiting and hoping for something to take him into the race. In the end, he couldn’t wait any longer and took off around the outside of the field with 400m to run, being pushed out widest as they straightened for the finish. He was sprinting well down the outside but shifted in when Ferraris had the whip in his left hand, bumping into another runner midway down the straight. Ferraris switched the whip into the other hand and the gelding straightened up beautifully, running over the top of the leader inside the final stages to win by half-a-length at the finish.

Runner-Up: MEGA BONUS got away well off the inside barrier and was able to use that to his advantage, with Derek Leung having to do no work to sit on the pace turning down the back. The pace was good down the back straight, but the gelding was travelling comfortably through the middle stages, with Leung going through along the inside to take the lead around the turn. He continued to slip away passing the 400m point, leading by a length as they turned into the straight. He was responding well to the urgings of Leung, holding most of his rivals at bay, but he began to tire inside the final 50m, and the winner ran over the top of him in the shadows of the post. 

Run Of The Race: MEGA BONUS had the favours of an inside draw at the beginning of the race, but he showed plenty of toughness to set a quick tempo and only be over run in the final few strides. It was a gutsy effort and he’s the horse I’d follow going forward.

Disappointment: SIX BEST FRIENDS got away well and was taken forward by Jerry Chau, but was left racing three-wide and without cover for the entire event. He came under pressure with 450m to run and initially stuck on well, but he eventually faded out of the race to finish in last position, beaten 12 lengths. 

Comparison: Way outside standard time, but just quicker than the Gage Handicap in race 4.
Market Mover: MEGA BONUS jumped a well-supported favourite at $3.20.

Race 7 – Lyndhurst Handicap, HK $1,570,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:10.21 Standard Time: 1:09.50 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision

Winner: NICCONI COUNTY (AUS 3yo g Nicconi – County Mayo) jumped well off the inside barrier, with Vincent Ho not having to do too much work early in the race to settle just in behind the leaders as they turned down the back straight. He was a touch keen travelling down the back, but he settled better passing the 800m point with the pace being quite good through the middle stages. Ho was niggling at the gelding as they turned off the back straight and continued to ramp up the pressure around the turn as he pushed his way into the clear on the point of the home turn. He ran on well to take the lead with 150m to run and he was strong to the line, holding off the late challenger to win by a neck on the line.

Runner-Up: YO BEAUTY got away on terms and was shoved along from the wide barrier to be up near the pace around the first turn, before Alex Badel shifted in behind runners to settle midfield down the back stretch. He was racing wide and without cover down the back stretch, but managed to slot back into the running line with 600m to run. He was already under heavy pressure on straightening, but he continued to take ground off the leader with every stride. He got close in the final 50m, but he was unable to put his nose in front, finishing a clear second.

Run Of The Race: NICCONI COUNTY was brilliant tonight, settling closer than usual and sticking on well to hold on for the win. 

Disappointment: FLYING SEASON was one of the last into stride and settled near the tail of the field under Zac Purton. He raced awkwardly around the first turn, but travelled well down the back straight and through the middle stages. But when Purton began to ask for an effort, the gelding hung out badly and ran right off the track. He didn’t finish the race off at all and ended up in 11th position, beaten 6 lengths. Purton told stewards that he believed the gelding didn’t handle the Happy Valley circuit and would be better suited to the straight course at Sha Tin.

Comparison: Well outside the standard time.
Market Mover: NICCONI COUNTY and SUPER MISSION were the ones punters came for.

Race 8 – Shelley Handicap, HK $1,570,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:39.98 Standard Time: 1:39.75 Course/Class record: 1:38.55 Telecom Fighters

Winner: NOTHING NEW (IRE 6yo g No Nay Never – Crosstalk) was one of the first into stride and was urged along by Lyle Hewitson to roll forward from the wide draw, crossing to the lead relatively easily as they made the first turn. Hewitson applied the brakes down the side of the course, setting just a moderate tempo through the middle stages of the race. The South African hoop then took off once again as they turned off the back straight, stretching out the field around the home turn. The gelding was under a strong hold until they turned for home, with the six-year-old kicking well off the home turn extend his margin early in the straight. He was able to hold his advantage right down the home straight to come home a comfortable winner by 1-1/2 lengths.

Runner-Up: PACKING AWARD jumped well and strolled forward under Matthew Poon to land in second position, sitting on the outside of the leader as they travelled down the side of the course. He travelled well through the middle stages, but was just left flat footed when the leader quickened turning out of the back straight. He did well to make up that ground back up and be close to the leader on straightening, but he just couldn’t reel him back in right down the home straight. He stuck on gamely for second position after being headed midway down the straight, but the winner was just too good.

Run Of The Race: NOTHING NEW was rated brilliantly out in front by Lyle Hewitson, never giving anything else a chance. He’s becoming known for his front-running rides is Hewitson, but the gelding was equally as good this evening.

Disappointment: WORLD FAMOUS got away well and landed in a great spot on the back of the leader as they headed down the side of the course, but was over racing and fighting Zac Purton with the moderate pace being set. He settled better down the back of the course and appeared to be improving as they turned for home, but began to weaken out of the event as they went past the 200m point. He would drift back through the pack, ending up in 8th place, beaten 5 lengths after jumping as the favourite.

Comparison: Just outside the standard time.
Market Mover: WORLD FAMOUS jumped a $4.10 favourite with no real market moves being made.

Race 9 – Staunton Handicap, HK $2,400,000

Class 2 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:09.69 Standard Time: 1:09.30 Course/Class record: 1:08.46 Harmony And Rich

Winner: FAMILY FOLKS (AUS 5yo g Snitzel – Miss Sharapova) jumped well from barrier 3 but didn’t have the pace to match his rivals in the early going, settling midfield as they turned down the back of the course. He was initially one off the rail, but Karis Teetan was able to cross to the inside passing the 800m point, with the pace being genuine through the middle stages. He was trucking nicely as they swung into the home straight and Teetan was able to gain a clear passage down the straight as the field fanned out. He sliced his way through the pack to take the lead with 100m to run and hit the line strongly, winning by three-quarters-of-a-length pulling away. 

Runner-Up: LUCKY SWEYNESSE was a touch awkward into stride and had to be hard ridden right out of the barriers, by Matthew Poon, but he improved nicely to sit in behind the leaders as they made the first turn. He travelled nicely down the back, but lost some ground on the leader’s as they began making the turn with 550m to run. Poon was able to narrow the margin once again as they turned for home, with the local hoop sticking to the inside on straightening. He sprinted well to take the lead with 150m to run, but it was short lived as the winner charged through the middle of the pack and outgunned him. A solid effort, but he just found one better on the day.

Run Of The Race: FAMILY FOLKS landed in a brilliant spot and got all the favours he needed when weaving his way through traffic in the straight. He ran home strongly over the top of his rivals, and there’s no reason why he wouldn’t win again.

Disappointment: KEEP YOU WARM raced in a prominent position just behind the leaders, but did have cover throughout the run as he sat one off the rail under Zac Purton. Purton held the gelding together until they had straightened, but there was limited response when he asked the gelding for an effort at the top of the straight. He weakened inside the final 150m, finishing in 11th place and beaten 5-1/4 lengths.

Comparison: Outside the standard time.
Market Mover: EASON was the one punters honed in on late in betting.

Nicconi County and Vincent Ho, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club

 

 

 

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