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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, February 7th, 2024 

Race 1 – Shan Kwong Road Park Handicap, HK $875,000

Class 5 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:40.84 Standard Time: 1:40.30 Course/Class record: 1:38.91 All Joyful

Keith Yeung got his night off to a winning start with UNITED ENDEAVOURS (AUS 5yo g Headwater – Illinois Magic) who won easily in the first. After getting away well, Yeung landed in a handy position just off the speed. The pace was good and with no change to the order through the middle stages, with Yeung remaining in a great position off the back. The local hoop began to build up the revs around the home turn and trucked into the race beautifully at the top of the straight. He let down strongly over the closing stages to take the lead with 150m to run and showed a clean pair of heels, pulling away to score by 1-3/4 lengths. BRILLIANT PIONEER ran home strongly for second position. The gelding was only moderately away and landed near the tail of the field under Karis Teetan, getting down to the inside rail around the first turn. Teetan remained near the tail of the field approaching the 600m point and was already beginning to urge his mount along as he looked for ways through the traffic turning for home. The gelding quickened well when asked in the straight and stayed on strongly over the closing stages, sprinting through a gap to finish a clear second on the line. BIG TWO was also well back in the early and middle stages but began to make a move three and four-wide heading off the back. He worked into the race strongly and sustained a good run right down the outside, just peaking on his effort late and holding on for third in a photo finish.

Race 2 – Fa Hui Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 2200m - Track Good
Time: 2:18.64 Standard Time: 2:17.25 Course/Class record: 2:14.42 Bright Kid

Danny Shum and Alex Badel teamed up to score in the staying event of the night, with ROMANTIC FANTASY (IRE 4yo g Fascinating Rock) leading all of the way. After jumping on terms, the Frenchman pressed on to take up the running, working around his rivals to take the lead heading down the straight with a lap to run. Once in front, Badel dropped the anchor and turned the race into a crawl. Although there were gaps through the field, the overall time shows just how moderately they were travelling through the middle stages as Badel tried to slip away turning off the back. He had his rivals chasing turning for home but showed plenty of strength to keep his rivals at bay. It was a four-way photo finish on the line, with Badel clinging on by a short head. SHARPEN BRIGHT raced in a midfield position for Zac Purton and remained there throughout the race. He was always spotting the leader around five or six lengths but began to make his move around the home turn, narrowing the margin to be just 3-1/2 lengths away with 400m to run. He hit the line locked together with his rivals, getting his nose down on the wire to snag second place. SERANGOON peeled off the back of the Sharpen Bright turning for home, with those two making their runs together down the middle of the track. Only a short head separated the first four horses across the line.

Race 3 – Shan Kwong Road Park Handicap, HK $875,000

Class 5 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:41.76 Standard Time: 1:40.30 Course/Class record: 1:38.91 All Joyful

He’s been in great form all season MEDIC ELITE (NZ 5yo g Zacinto – You Are Amazing), and he notched up his second win of the term in good style. After jumping well from gate 5, Zac Purton rolled forward on the five-year-old to settle close to the speed as they raced around the first turn. The Australian hoop would land in the one-out-one-back position and travel very comfortably through the middle stages of the race. He popped out three-wide with cover to move around a tiring leader off the back straight, tracking into the race ominously four-wide heading for home. He quickly took the lead after straightening and the race was all over. He was still well in front with 100m left to run and proved far too good, winning by 1-1/4 lengths. MIGHTY STAR was awkwardly away from the barriers and was taking back to last immediately after the start. He raced at the tail of the field and was still a long last as they turned off the back stretch. Keagan De Melo began to improve his position along the inside rail as they moved around the final turn, sneaking up the inside and picking up a few positions turning for home. He only went around 1 rival in the straight, making his run along the rail and sprinting into second position. SUPERB MOVE had raced on the back of the leader throughout the event for Karis Teetan and began to edge his way into the clear turning for home. He was quickly overtaken by the winner at the top of the straight but stuck on nicely to hold on for third.


Race 4 – Kowloon Park Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:10.61 Standard Time: 1:09.85 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends

SUPER JOY N FUN (NZ 3yo g What’s The Story – Citycenta) made a winning start to his career for Jerry Chau and Benno Yung. It was an even line away, and Jerry Chau urged the three-year-old along from the outside draw to shoot across and be up on the pace around the first turn. He led passing the 800m point but was unable to get down to the inside rail with a rival kicking up on his inside. He did a little bit wrong as they turned into the home straight, but he travelled strongly to the furlong pole and shot away when Chau asked for an effort. He rolled back to the inside once in front but showed plenty of grit to get the job done by a head on debut. BEAUTY INFINITY got away on terms and slotted in a midfield position for Zac Purton. After enjoying a cosy run in transit, Purton got onto the back of his rivals three-wide turning for home before peeling off heels and into the clear at the top of the straight. He made a strong run down the outside on the $2.20 favourite but was unable to reel in the leader who held off the fast-finishing Beauty Infinity. BEAU GOSSE got onto the back of the speed after getting away well from an inside draw. He tracked the leader through as they turned for home and ducked up the inside rail to make his challenge. He was unable to match it with the first two across the line, but he stuck on well to claim third.

Race 5 – Morse Park Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:41.38 Standard Time: 1:40.05 Course/Class record: 1:38.83 Flying Elite

Angus Chung kept up his good form as he saluted aboard LOVERO (JPN 5yo g Lord Kanaloa – Sacred Sight) for his master Tony Cruz. After getting away well from barrier 7, Chung had the early lead passing the post for the first time, before getting some cover around the first turn. He raced on the back of the leader throughout the event, stalking the pace setters all the way to the final turn. The leader wobbled off the rail turning for home, with the five-year-old able to sneak up along the inside to take control inside the final 200m. He was wobbling about once he got to the front, but he had enough left in the tank to hold his rivals at bay and score his first win in Hong Kong, with the final margin being a neck. STURDY RUBY was taken back from the wide draw to settle near the tail of the field under Zac Purton. He continued to race towards the back through the middle stages, eventually making his move along the inside with 500m remaining. With most of his rivals fanning wide, Purton was able to make plenty of passes underneath his rivals and came with a strong run in the straight. He made a late surge at Lovero close to the line, but Purton couldn’t reel in the apprentice and was forced to settle for second. WIN WIN FIGHTER raced in a midfield position through the middle stages and was able to get off the rail as they worked around the final turn. Lyle Hewitson continued to track wider heading into the straight and made a sustained run down the centre of the course. He kept coming under the urgings of Hewitson, but not fast enough to catch the first two on the line.

Race 6 – Kowloon Park Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:10.89 Standard Time: 1:09.85 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends

DAN ATTACK (AUS 5yo g Deep Field – She’s A Striker) jumped well and landed in a handy position from the draw, settling on the back of the leader under Antoine Hamelin. The speed was good down the back and Hamelin slid back to fourth position aboard the five-year-old, still racing along the inside. He peeled out with about 400m remaining to get to the middle to the track where he travelled into the race strongly. Once asked for an effort, Dan Attack quickened strongly to hit the front with 50m to run, scoring by three-quarters of-a-length. HAPPY FAT CAT rolled forward from the wide draw and landed in a handy position up on the speed. The leader took control down the back straight and Angus Chung was able to get down to the inside rail, stalking the leader down the back. After stalking the leader turning for home, he stuck on strongly to take the lead momentarily with 100m to run before being gunned down by Dan Attack. He held on for second position by a half-length holding out a wall of runners. SUPER EAGLE was the early favourite but drifted in betting with Zac Purton settling about midfield. He was the widest runner turning for home and looked a genuine winning hope with 200m remaining, but he couldn’t reel in the firs two across the line.

Race 7 – Hong Kong Park Handicap, HK $2,050,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:40.85 Standard Time: 1:39.85 Course/Class record: 1:38.55 Telecom Fighters

Danny Shum secured a winning double on the night, teaming up with Harry Bentley to see EIGHTEEN PALMS (NZ 5yo g El Roca – Buttermilk) win stylishly. The five-year-old was quickly out of the barriers and rolled forward under Bentley, sitting on the outside of the leader around the first turn. He travelled comfortably through the middle stages and when the mid-race move came with around 600m to run, the gelding was able to respond quickly to the rise in tempo to stick with them around the home turn. He quickened well at the top of the straight and although he was lugging in under pressure, he took the lead and raced away from his rivals to win by 1-3/4 lengths in a fine effort. TOURBILLON PRINCE led the field from barrier 4, holding out Eighteen Palms and doing as he pleased up front. He was able to see off the mid-race move and sneak back up along the inside to take the lead early in the straight, before Eighteen Palms blew right by him out wider. He stuck on well to hold on for second, holding off a wall of runners. ALL BEAUTY stormed home from a long way back to grab third spot after weaving his way through traffic at the top of the straight.

Race 8 – Victoria Park Handicap, HK $1,860,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:10.51 Standard Time: 1:09.60 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision

Harry Bentley quickly made it a winning double as WATCH BUDDY (AUS 4yo g Rothesay – Rhodopis) bought up back-to-back wins. The gelding got away well from an inside alley and plonked himself right on the speed around the first turn. He was facing the breeze throughout in his stalking role as Bentley began to creep closer around the home turn and begin to mount his challenge. He loomed up to the leader with 150m to run as they set down to fight it out. It was a ding-dong battle right to the line, with Bentley throwing Watch Buddy over the line for a narrow victory, getting the nod in a photo finish. HEALTHY HEALTHY burned across to take up the running from the wide draw and was able to do as he pleased once he assumed control. He was left along out in front, leading them off the back as he stacked them up from the 800m point. He put in a good kick at the top of the straight, with only Watch Buddy able to go with him early. He tried his hardest under the urgings of Alex Badel, hitting the line alongside the eventual winner with only a bob of the head the difference between first and second. The first three around the turn were the first three across the line with CHAMPION METHOD securing third place. He led early before taking a trailing position on the back of Healthy Healthy through the middle stages. Angus Chung darted back up the inside to make his run, but he couldn’t match it with the first two across the line, finishing three-quarters of-a-length behind. 

Race 9 – Victoria Park Handicap, HK $1,860,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:10.29 Standard Time: 1:09.60 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision

Alfred Chan scored his first win since the 29th of December in the closing event of the night, winning aboard SUGAR SUGAR (AUS 5yo g Star Turn – In The Moment) for the Caspar Fownes barn. The gelding jumped on terms from barrier 8 and was able to settle midfield and along the rail after a good piece of riding by Chan. He was shuffled back a touch as they sorted their order out down the back straight, with the gelding travelling comfortably turning off the back. The local hoop hugged the inside rail around the home turn, sneaking underneath his rivals turning for home and continued to make his run along the inside on straightening. He never went around a runner as he took the lead with 100m to run and proved too good in the run to the line, winning by three-quarters of-a-length after jumping a $10 chance. WINGS OF WAR had settled in front of Sugar Sugar in the run and peeled wide for Bentley turning the corner, which allowed the winner to sneak up the inside. Bentley got into the clear with plenty of time remaining and the race was there for the taking if the flashy grey was good enough. He strode up to join the leaders with 150m to run, but Sugar Sugar took the shortest way home, edging out the grey gelding. CHAIN OF GOLD flashed home from a long way back to edge out the race favourite for third. He was definitely the eye-catcher late in the race but will need to tidy up his starts to be winning.

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