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The Davis Files - Happy Valley review

The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Happy Valley on Thursday, July 4th, 2024 

Race 1 – Tsun Yuen Handicap, HK $875,000

Class 5 – Turf - Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:40.33 Standard Time: 1:40.30 Course/Class record: 1:38.91 All Joyful

Luke Ferraris continued his good recent form with a win aboard the Ricky You-trained LITTLE FAIRY (AUS 4yo g Scissor Kick – Coffee Hit) in the opener. The gelding jumped on terms from an inside barrier and rolled forward early doors. There was a good go for the lead early, with Ferraris having a lovely run early on without having to jostle for position. The speed continued to be even through the middle stages and Little Fairy was poised to strike approaching the home turn, with the South African hoop beginning to make a move toward the outside. Heading for home, Ferraris had the four-year-old in plenty of space, coming down the outside to make his challenge. He took the lead with around 150m to run and was far too good in the run to the line, inching away late to score by 11-1/4 lengths on the line. DRAGON DELIGHT jumped quickly and was sent forward early by High Bowman, with the Australian hoop caught very deep around the first turn. As the field sorted their order out, Bowman found himself in the one-out-one-back position, getting the run of the race through the middle stages. He was always within striking distance in the run, with Bowman able to ease three-wide and the gelding sauntered his way up to eyeball the leaders turning for home. He hit the front momentarily with 200m remaining, but it wasn’t long before Little Fairy took control and ran away with the race. TATTENHAM ran on well from beyond midfield to claim third position, finishing 2-1/4 lengths off the winner.

Race 2 – Briar Handicap, HK $2,840,000

Class 2 – Turf - Distance 1000m – Track Good
Time: 56.56 Standard Time: 56.40 Course/Class record: 55.89 Whizz Kid

After coming second in the opening event, Hugh Bowman went one better in the second race as he saluted aboard MAJESTIC KNIGHT (AUS 5yo g Redoute’s Choice – Negotiate). The gelding drew towards the outside of the seven-horse field and was taken back toward the tail of the field on settling down. As they passed the 600m point, Bowman crossed back to the inside rail and as they travelled around the home turn, the Australian was able to sneak underneath his opponents to be within striking distance at the top of the straight. The Australian hoop persisted with an inside run, squeezing up the inside fence to loom as a winning hope with 200m remaining. He shot through underneath the leader to take the lead with 50m remaining and he had enough in the tank to hold off his rivals, saluting by a neck on the line. WHIZZ KID returned to form at his favoured track and distance. Usually known for his brash front-running style, Brenton Avdulla decided to take a sit on the back of the leader in today’s assignment trailing the leader throughout the event. Avdulla popped off the leader’s back turning for home and had his chance to win if he was good enough, holding a narrow lead with 100m to run. The winner just snuck up the inside of him late, fending off Whizz Kid in a blanket finish. BEAUTY WAVES was there racing alongside Whizz Kid in the run, jumping a $1.50 favourite for Karis Teetan and Pierre Ng. The gelding had his chance but was unable to put his nose in front at any stage and was forced to settle for second.

Race 3 – Hawthorn Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1000m – Track Good
Time: 57.24 Standard Time: 57.00 Course/Class record: 56.39 Gentle Breeze

Hugh Bowman quickly made it a race-to-race double as he partnered the John Size-trained GRAND NOVA (AUS 3yo g Vancouver – Longing) to his maiden victory. The gelding was away on terms and with good early speed on offer, Bowman was able to lob into a midfield position aboard the three-year-old. The Australian continued to improve his position as they turned off the back, going underneath some rivals as he crossed back to the inside, remaining there around the home turn. At the top of the straight, Bowman was forced to push his way into the clear, obtaining clear running early in the stretch and setting out after the leaders who were a couple of length in front. He just kept coming under Bowman’s hard riding, doing his best work inside the final 50m to take the lead and score by a neck on the line. MA COMET has been racing in a favourable position on the back of the leading pair throughout the event. The leaders kicked well on straightening which allowed Karis Teetan to get off heels and into the clear midway down the stretch. He came after the leader but never hit the front as Grand Nova blew by him just as he reached the leader. He was able to hold on for second position though in a close photo finish. COLOUFRUL PRINCE came across from a wide alley to sit on the outside of the leader on settling down. After sitting up on a solid tempo, the gelding took the lead early in the straight and proved very hard to run down. He was still right there at the finish, only beaten a neck in what was a very commendable effort.

Race 4 – Kwai Fong Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.83 Standard Time: 1:09.85 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends

SPICY GOLD (AUS 4yo g So You Think – Spectrolite) secured his maiden victory at start number nine. The gelding jumped well from a wide alley and was caught ride around the first turn. Badel tried to slide back and slot into the running line early in the back stretch, but the pair were unable to find a spot and were left racing wide and without cover. The Frenchman remained in a midfield position turning off the back but began to creep closer around the outside with around 400m remaining. Badel built plenty of momentum around the turn and into the straight, whipping around off the turn and moving up to hit the front with a furlong to run. The gelding was far too good in the run to the line, sustaining the effort to win by three-quarters of-a-length. GOLDEN RISE had been racing to the inside of the winner on settling down, sitting in a midfield position in the running line. Hugh Bowman got onto the back of Spicy Gold on straightening, but it took Golden Rise a little while to wind up in the straight. The gelding closed off well, but not well enough to reel in the winner. AURORA LADY stuck on well for third after racing just off the speed.

Race 5 – Min Fat Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:39.97 Standard Time: 1:40.05 Course/Class record: 1:38.83 Flying Elite

NORTHERN BEAST (AUS 3yo g Maurice – Tiffany’s Diamond) brought up his second win in-a-row. Brenton Avdulla got the gelding off to a great start from barrier two and rolled forward early on to get away from the inside rail. The Australian hoop found his position early on, landing about midfield with a strong pace being set up front. With the good pace on offer, Avdulla found himself in a lovely position, especially when the field began to pack up turning off the back straight. This allowed Avdulla to get a lovely cart into the race three-wide before peeling wider again as they swung into the straight. He quickened well on straightening and set out after the leader, with the first two fighting it out over the concluding stages. Northern Beast wouldn’t give in, coming at the leader late in the race and making one final dive on the line. He was successful in his efforts, stealing the victory right on the post with only a nose separating them. DOUBLE WIN jumped a $40 chance for Jerry Chau and was in front of Northern Beast in the run, sitting just off the speed. As the leader came back to them with 500m remaining, Chau was posted three-wide around the home turn with the local hoop beginning to make some ground on his opponents. Chau looked to have a good hold of the gelding turning for home and he sprinted quickly when he finally asked for an effort. He didn’t go down without a fight, drawing away from the rest of the field, but he just couldn’t hold off the final lunge from Northern Beast. STURDY RUBY closed off strongly from toward the rear, finishing 1-3/4 lengths away in a clear third position. 

Race 6 – Shing Ping Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1800m – Track Good
Time: 1:48.94 Standard Time: 1:49.55 Course/Class record: 1:48.10 Acclaimed Light

Vincent Ho and Caspar Fownes combined with JOY OF SPRING (AUS 4yo g Deep Field – Certitude) to win race six, bringing up back-to-back wins in the process. The gelding was away from a middle draw and Vincent Ho was able to roll across and put himself in a handy position midfield and along the rail. The field was strung out in the early stages, but down the back straight the gaps began to narrow, putting Ho in a position just off the speed and within striking distance. The local hoop had space to move off the inside and angle for runs around the home turn, getting into the clear shortly after straightening and letting rip down the outside. He quickened well when asked for an effort and he shot through to hit the front with 100m left to run and the gelding was far too strong late in the race, drawing clear to win by 1-1/4 lengths. ME TIME settled well back in the run wearing the famous Russian Emperor colours, ending up in the second half of the field from barrier three. The gelding was under the pump a long way from home but was building the revs as they approached the home turn. The gelding was a little wayward as they swung into the straight, ending up as the widest runner in the stretch. He just continued to find under the urgings of Badel, running on strongly to finish in second position. Me Time looks a horse worth following up to 2200m. FOREVER GLORIOUS stuck on boldly from the front, holding on to third position in a strong effort.

Race 7 – Kwai Fong Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:10.23 Standard Time: 1:09.85 Course/Class record: 1:08.60 Happily Friends

It was the 25-start maiden TRAVEL GOLF (GB 5yo g Holy Roman Emperor – Apparatchika) who saluted in the seventh race in a strong front-running effort. The gelding jumped on terms from a wide draw and Andrea Atzeni eased across from the wide alley, eventually slotting in on the outside of the leader early down the back straight. The pace was good through the middle stages, with Travel Golf racing comfortably around the home turn and moving up to take control under his own steam at the top of the straight. The $13 chance led by a length with a furlong to run as Atzeni began to rouse the gelding along, with a couple rivals coming out of the pack to give chase. They were all chasing in vain though, with Travel Gold able to secure his maiden victory by a neck at start 26. GALLANT VALOUR was able to settle in a midfield position with ease under Hugh Bowman as they got away from a handy draw. After racing comfortably throughout, the gelding came under heavy pressure prior to the home turn with Bowman asking the gelding to pick up as he put him into clear air. He came home with a wet sail down the outside, but he ran out of time to secure the victory, finishing in second position. CAMINO sustained a good effort late in the race to hold on for third in a photo finish.

Race 8 – Cheong Ming Handicap, HK $2,050,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1650m – Track Good
Time: 1:40.42 Standard Time: 1:39.85 Course/Class record: 1:38.55 Telecom Fighters

Race favourite ZOOM BOOM (IRE 6yo g Awtaad – Gabardine) was back in the winner’s stall with Harry Bentley and Douglas Whyte combining. From barrier three, Bentley was able to put the gelding in a handy position from the outset, racing prominently before runners were able to cross him heading around the first turn. The Englishman found himself just off the speed in fourth as they sorted their order out, with not a whole lot of pace on through the middle stages. Bentley was able to sneak through along the inside as they approached the 600m point, getting onto the back of the race leader and being right there to strike on straightening. The leader moved off the inside as they straightened, allowing Zoom Boom to slide through underneath his rivals and hit the front with 150m remaining. He got to the front and was too good over the latter stages, winning by three-quarters of-a-length. STAR CONTACT was racing alongside the winner throughout the event under Karis Teetan, getting across to settle in the running line from barrier five. The gelding enjoyed a cosy run throughout, before swinging wide into the straight as the Mauritian hoop went looking for clear air. The gelding was coming home strongly late in the race, but he ran out of time to reel in the leader from well back. RED HARE KING was always handy in the run under Hugh Bowman, sitting just off the lead through the middle stages before moving up on the outside of the leader to challenge for front position around the home turn. He hung a little as they swung into the straight, but he took the lead momentarily with a furlong to run before being gobbled up by Zoom Boom. Bowman and Red Hare King were sound to the line, just missing out on second in a photo finish.

Race 9 – Broom Handicap, HK $1,860,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:10.70 Standard Time: 1:09.60 Course/Class record: 1:08.68 Speed Vision

Luke Ferraris bookended the card along with Ricky You, with both jockey and trainer bringing up a double with WATCH BUDDY (AUS 4yo g Rothesay – Rhodopis). The gelding got away well from barrier five and showed enough early speed to be running up front around the first turn. Upon entering the back straight, Ferraris looked to ease his mount out of the speed battle, dropping in behind the leaders and racing in the one-out-one-back position down the back. Some more moves came with 600m remaining, shuffling Ferraris back to a more midfield position as he raced between horses around the home turn. The South African was held up for clear running around the home turn and was almost at the tail of the field on straightening and needing to pick his way through the traffic. The gaps came midway down the stretch and the gelding let rip, bursting through between horses to stick his nose in front close to the wire. It was a blanket finish, but Watch Buddy came out on top by a short head. ARMOUR EAGLE drifted back shortly after the jump and raced toward the tail of the field throughout the event. Karis Teetan crossed down to the inside as they travelled down the back straight and was able to improve the gelding’s position as they turned off the back, sneaking through beneath rivals. On straightening, the Mauritian was able to work his way through the traffic with the gaps opening up right in front of him. He burrowed through to look the winner close to home, but he was gunned down late by watch buddy. YOUNG ARROW snuck up the inside rail for Harry Bentley and took the lead with 150m to run. In a blanket finish, he was still in front with 50m remaining before being swallowed close to home. He managed to hold on for third in a close finish.