The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Sha Tin on Sunday, October 18th, 2020:
RACE 1 TIN SAM HANDICAP HK $750,000
Class 5 – Rating 40-0 - Turf ‘B + 2’ Course – Distance 2000m – Track Good
Time: 2:02.32 Standard Time: 2:03.15 Course/Class Record: 2:01.56
Winner: AMAZING AGILITY (FR 8yo g King’s Best – Wings Of Glory) was awesome today, never closer than three-wide the trip without cover, pushed even wide around the home turn and he simply kept giving more and more, a grand showing of fortitude. He’d not promised that to be fair, a vastly unsuccessful season and seventh in his fresh up outing looking quite ordinary on his record over the past 12 months. And he had last won way back to January 2019. But he never failed to respond to the urgings of Karis Teetan today. Start 57, win four.
Runner-up: SKY GEM gained a lovely run in transit, ran to them quickly to win and was outstayed the final 100m by the former. No excuses, another good try from the consistent galloper who continues to churn out the placings for Caspar Fownes. He has had to carry the 133lb in both starts this season.
Run Of The Race: AMAZING AGILITY can’t be beaten in this one. Terrific run to be wide all the way and win. Handy efforts from YOU HAVE MY WORD, solid late just not the same vigour in him off that smart win first up for the season, and FORTUNE PATROL, a likely one next time around.
Disappointment: HOME WIN had a good trip in front, was able to dictate terms so quite disappointing being run down in the straight as a well-favoured runner.
Comparison: Well under standard in a race where they looked to have dropped anchor so looking forward to some hot times today based on this.
Market Mover: HAY RUN $16.90 to $13.40
RACE 2 SIU LEK YUEN HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘B + 2’ Course – Distance 1400m – Track Good
Time: 1:22.44 Standard Time: 1:21.85 Course/Class Record: 1:20.80
Winner: HANG’S DECISION (NZ 9yo g Postponed – Bislieri) makes it two for the veterans so far today, this old guy a spritely nine-year-old who banks win nine in Hong Kong for Chris So, obviously an old stable favourite given he kicked off in 2015 under the guidance of So, and has never left. Had to be decent to win this, second-last after settling then well back and very wide around the turn he maintained a very strong run wide out to just grab the win in the final stride. Not so long ago when he also succeeded at 1400m around Sha Tin, he broke through in June as a 50-pointer, wins again in the same class here rated 58.
Runner-up: MORE THAN ENOUGH looked all over the winner once they reached the distance, just couldn’t quite hold on at the very last two strides. In comparison to the winner he’s an absolute freshman, just his sixth race day start today, the former beyond 70 starts. Tony Cruz has kept this horse busy this season, this being his fourth start in the first seven weeks of the term, and stronger as he goes, now placed his last two in the rise from 1200m to 1400m. Winning form any tick of the clock.
Run Of The Race: HANG’S DECISION gave them a big start and a big beating. BUNDLE OF DELIGHT was rather unlucky, caught in slow traffic looking for room from last on the home turn and very tidy late. A moderate record to date but that is about to change out of the in-form stable of David Hall. He was a winner at Sale in Victoria over 1623m for Patrick Payne before export. WONDER EXPRESS was also great from last, badly held up after the home turn.
Disappointment: Warm favourite COPARTNER ERA had to ease three-deep to maintain clear running perhaps a furlong earlier than needed. That aside, quite bland in the run home and not the run expected.
Comparison: Well outside standard as they jumped on the brakes and walked them along in front. No indication whatsoever on the actual track conditions, proven by the fact the track conditions were upgraded from ‘Good’ to ‘Good To Firm’.
Market Mover: HANG’S DECISION $17.70 to $11.30, ALL JOYFUL $41.00 to $20.20, WONDER EXPRESS $21.00 to $9.40
RACE 3 THE PREMIER BOWL HANDICAP HK $4,500,000
Group 2 - Turf ‘B + 2’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:07.89 Standard Time: 1:08.40 Course/Class Record: 1:07.50
Winner: WISHFUL THINKER (AUS 7yo g I Am Invincible – Zebithea) was not expected to win this, a wonderful achievement from trainer Dennis Yip and up-and-coming rider Derek Leung to take the honours in the feature sprint. Yip has quite possibly found something, just his third start with the former Australian galloper today, all previous success in Hong Kong had been with Richard Gibson, six wins and eight placings from just 25 starts under his guidance. He was beaten past 10-lengths behind Computer Patch in the National Day Cup on October 1 over 1000m and finds a load of improvement in the step to 1200m today. His best form has certainly been at the longer of the two sprinting trips. Yip believed taking the blinkers off helped the horse.
Runner-up: COMPUTER PATCH had own rules out in front and kicked away to win the race when PEFECT MATCH dropped off. That extra 200 metres got him today, superior over that straight 1000m in the National Day Cup, the final strides the hard part here. Banks another big cheque for running second, now an earner well beyond $HK8 million in stakes.
Run Of The Race: WISHFUL THINKER was not rated to beat these and a grand result from the former Mick Price-trained gelding. Price had him winning two of six starts in Victoria including a city win at Moonee Valley over 1200m.
Disappointment: PERFECT MATCH rolled along outside the leader and looked happy enough but was quickly off the bit when the leader sprinted and very disappointing today.
Comparison: Hot time befitting of a Group event, a half-second under standard and breaking 1:08.00 is always a sharp run anywhere in the world over 1200m.
Market Mover: PERFECT MATCH $4.70 to $2.70
RACE 4 TAI WAI HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘B + 2’ Course – Distance 1600m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:34.18 Standard Time: 1:34.70 Course/Class Record: 1:33.78
Winner: BULLETPROOF (NZ 4yo g Dissident – Tempting Delight) ends a losing streak, eight previous runs in Hong Kong revealing four fourths but no real cigar. Ricky Yiu has found the necessary improvement between seasons, the 10 weeks between runs obviously of benefit to the Kiwi-bred he paid $NZ180,000 for through the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale in 2018. A very strong gallop today, ambled up to them to put quite a margin into the field after turning for home and ran away to score with ease. Will not be long winning again now he finds the groove. Five-time Group One winner Dissident is only represented by five runners in Hong Kong right now.
Runner-up: DECISIVE ACTION got the decisive strides in out wide to take second money in quite the blanket finish for the minors. He was back sharing last throughout this one and really strong late widest on the track in a nice pickup in form after slow end to last season and a quiet eighth first up on September 20 when resuming. Winner in Ireland in two starts before making his way here, but just the one win from 18 starts leading into this so a dry run.
Run Of The Race: SEAWEED FORTUNE is racing really well, continues s sharp start to the 2020-2021 season with a strong finish again to snare third money, the son of Tavistock a winner first up before a strong finishing fourth on October 1. Now three at 1400m but a horse racing like he will relish a strong mile. INDIGENOUS STAR was very solid, Blake Shinn took a half-gap quite bravely on the rail at the 300m and did a nice job to get the horse into fourth.
Disappointment: CIRCUIT NUMBER ONE and EZRA were quite plain after sitting on the speed, though the pace caught them out, this run well under standard and the swoopers were waiting in the wings.
Comparison: A half-second under standard in a race run at genuine tempo. Track is just ideal for all today. If anything, centre-track seems to be the fast lane.
Market Mover: FAST PACE $9.70 to $6.00
RACE 5 SHA TIN WAI HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 - Turf ‘B + 2’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:09.07 Standard Time: 1:09.25 Course/Class Record: 1:08.45
Winner: SUPER RED DRAGON (AUS 5yo g Starspangledbanner – Street Storm) breaks through for the first win after a 15-start maiden career that had seen him place six times, twice already this season so he’d certainly promised to do the job for connections. Lovely spot third line on the inner here, he angled off the fence to make his run in plenty of time and was undeniable late, wearing down a gallant leader to score under Alexis Badel who has been the rider in all three starts this term. He was sold through the 2017 Inglis Ready To Run Sale in Australia and later trialled in New Zealand before making his way to Hong Kong. Will remain in Class 4 off a rating of 46 today and should cope with a rise in weight so winning again quickly is within reach.
Runner-up: ONE HAPPY STAR was great today, one of the few leaders able to really give a strong kick so far n the programme. He was well out of form leading in, four starts and the best he’d done was ninth. Ran eleventh first up for the new season and things looked grim but a nice turnaround for that man Dennis Yip. He has his team going well, Wishful Thinker the standout, of course.
Run Of The Race: Two to focus on here, CHEERFUL DAYS was terrific on debut and unlucky, could have finished at least third with any luck. Powerful finish from well back from the son of Smart Missile, a $100,000 yearling through the ring New Zealand and latterly a dual trial winner for Ben Foote in NZ before export. Francis Lui is going to get good returns from this horse. And in his second race start WINNING STEED was also very strong late from the rear. He was $100,000 at the sales in Australia and trial placed before making his way to Jimmy Ting.
Disappointment: The well backed ABOVE ALL was slow away always last and never closer. Very average from him.
Comparison: Around standard and no real fire in it.
Market Mover: DIAMOND PEGASUS $11.50 to $8.20
RACE 6 SHING MUN RIVER CHANNEL HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 – All Weather – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.33 Standard Time: 1:09.05 Course/Class Record: 1:08.14
Winner: RESOLUTE (NZ 4yo g Per Incanto – Trigon Lass) resumes on a high, placed last start July 1 on this track and turned out for a freshen up. Trainer Tony Millard had him back to the trials at the end of September and he was really impressive, led and won with a gear or two left to use, prompting punters to be onside with him today, especially given trial-winning jockey Karis Teetan was again the man on board. Sitting on-pace he was really strong at the top of the straight, kicking away to win easily. Doubting he’s a one-trick sort of pony. Has placed on the turf at Happy Valley so the turf tracks will not be beyond him moving ahead. Another advert for this multi-producer, sire Per Incanto, he has a horse for every season.
Runner-up: SUPER ALLIANCES was really good last start so no surprise to see him running well again today, a strong finish from back of midfield to take second and the only horse to make it a race with the winner. Lone win in Hong Kong did come on the all-weather track at 1200m and he’s pointing us in that direction again, a likely victory to come again soon on the inside circuit. A decent season ahead for him given his position in the ratings.
Run Of The Race: SUPER ALLIANCES was really strong, not easy to pick up and make the ground behind the winner on this track so his performance was as good as any.
Disappointment: FORTUNE HAPPINESS was off the bit chasing them along all the way and did not fire a shot this time. A much better horse when placing in his previous three starts so something not right with him. Vetted, blood in the trachea.
Comparison: Outside standard, they jumped and settled quickly into spots.
Market Mover: SUPER ALLIANCES $18.60 to $11.10, HERO STAR $11.10 to $6.60
Golden Sixty and Vincent Ho, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
RACE 7 THE ORIENTAL WATCH SHA TIN TROPHY HK $4,500,000
Group 2 - Turf ‘B + 2’ Course – Distance 1600m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:33.37 Standard Time: 1:33.50 Course/Class Record: 1:32.64
Winner: GOLDEN SIXTY (AUS 5yo g Medaglia ‘d’Oro – Gaudeamus) is again too classy as expected and sprints away to win without really being put under any pressure by regular rider Vincent Ho, who allowed him to knock off over the final stages if anything. It was real walk around and sprint home and he would have appreciated a stronger pace up-front, the good horses always do. Victory number 12 from 13 starts now and the horse rated number one in Hong Kong as the former champion Beauty Generation offers little resistance to him this afternoon. That is success at 1400m, now to 1600m this campaign, but we know we will see his very-best at 1800m to 2000m so plenty of highlight reels to follow yet. World is his oyster.
Runner-up: KA YING STAR much better today. As usual found in front and when headed by the champ he kicked back with much more purpose this time, a real improvement off that lacklustre performance in the Celebration Cup. His final 100m to kick back and pick up a length was really good work.
Run Of The Race: SOUTHERN LEGEND nothing but tough, he was made to sit three-deep on the lead outside BEAUTY GENERATION and to keep kicking and run third was quite the run. Shows he is still up to the best gallopers in Hong Kong. $15 million in stakes tells us what a grand horse he is.
Disappointment: BEAUTY GENERATION runs the worst race since finishing fifth in April 2018. Since that day 18 race starts for 12 wins and six placings before today’s battling effort. Over $HK100,000 million in stakes earned by this remarkable racehorse – is the end now in sight? Vetted, no findings.
Comparison: They walked, then got cracking later in a sprintathon from the 600m, the winner winding up to 21.81 his last 400m, matched by a game DANCES WITH DRAGONS (21.85).
Market Mover: CHAMPION’S WAY $14.40 to $9.10
RACE 8 FO TAN HANDICAP HK $2,200,000
Class 2 – Rating 100-80 – All Weather – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:08.40 Standard Time: 1:08.15 Course/Class Record: 1:07.27
Winner: WILL POWER (NZ 5yo g Power – Lilahjay) is unbeatable on the dirt track when he is at the peak of his powers. And right now, they just can’t touch him. That’s eight starts for five wins on the track and back-to-back wins for the season as he returns a better horse, perhaps stronger. And remember he jumps to Class 2 for the first time today and second-rated them, picked them up with ease from well off the pace in a sparkling show of speed once again, even had to wait for a gap in traffic around the home turn. There is no sprinter in Hong Kong able to beat him on this track in this form. Sure, there are limitations. But for as long as Douglas Whyte can find the appropriate races for him on the dirt he will keep winning. Career-best victory to date this time, exceptional gallop given he had to break 22.00 seconds for the middle quarter (800m to 400m) to stay in touch. Another winning treble for Karis Teetan.
Runner-up: ENCORE BOY was great, he ran up wide in the straight, hit the front like a favourite, certainly not a 37/1 chance Trainer Ricky Yiu will be excited by this, the first outing in over three months from the Smart Missile gelding off one trial that suggested he would perhaps need a race or two to find his best so this result likely exceeds expectations somewhat.
Run Of The Race: WILL POWER superior to the field. MEGA HEART clocked good sectionals coming from a long way back to run sixth. Run better than it looks on paper.
Disappointment: CALIFORNIA CONCORD poured the speed on to hold the rail mid-race to maintain the front and paid the price for that, dropping out sharply in the run home.
Comparison: Just beyond the standard, all-weather track seemed fair without being at its fastest today.
Market Mover: UTOPIA LIFE $76.00 to $28.00, WILL POWER $4.30 to $3.00
Fined: C Wong (UTOPIA LIFE) $2000 for weighing out with wrong saddle cloth.
RACE 9 PAI TAU HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘B + 2’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:08.96 Standard Time: 1:09.05 Course/Class Record: 1:08.31
Winner: WINNING DREAMER (NZ 4yo g Deep Field – Markisa) posted himself up on the girth of leader Orion Patch and dictated the terms, Vincent Ho seemed full of confidence in the unbeaten commodity as he came off the home turn and it was a matter of pushing repeat as the son of star sire Deep Field booted away to win again, maintaining a clean record. That’s four from four for Frankie Lor - even rhymes. In four starts this horse goes from a Class 4 52 point maiden to now beyond 80 points into Class 2 and only a few can do that. Big strong horse and a big motor. Now the real tests will come but he is the one the opposition will be worried about. He was $NZ300,000 through the sale ring and unbeaten in two trials in New Zealand. His pedigree branches back to the amazing Eight Carat, second dam and Group 1 winner Marquise a sister to former champions Octagonal, Mouawad, and Kaapstad.
Runner-up: SCORES OF FUN ambled up to the winner at the turn and would not lay down in the fight to the wire, another exceptional run from this horse. He simply had to bow to a real start today. Big job from him working wide from barrier 12 and in most cases would win based on his performance. He’ll strike again quickly in Class 3 for trainer John Size.
Run Of The Race: A heap of noteworthy efforts in this race and many winners will flow from the race in the weeks to come. Mark down CHICKEN DANCE as a next-up winner, he’s needed two runs off a lengthy break and just arrives so much fitter next time around. CIRCUIT SIX very strong on the rail to grab fourth from well back, BRIGHT VISION a real eye-catcher late, as too AWE, and that pair were making up a tonne of ground from a long way back. AWE ran the fastest final 400m split of 22.44. He was having his first start for David Hayes after success with John Moore last season.
Disappointment: No disappointments here, the horses expected to run well ran accordingly. Top trio are exciting gallopers.
Comparison: Just a tick under standard, par for the course today.
Market Mover: CHICKEN DANCE $3.70 to $2.80
RACE 10 SHA TIN HOI HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 - Turf ‘B + 2’ Course – Distance 1400m – Track Good TF
Time: 1:22.04 Standard Time: 1:21.65 Course/Class Record: 1:20.62
Winner: HEZA BEAUTY (NZ 4yo g Darci Brahma – Myback) had to be decent to win this, got well back and ultimately three-deep with cover but giving the leaders a fair start. New rider Neil Callan drew him to centre track to make his run and the bid was constant, never peaking on a long, sustained gallop which impressed. He has built a nice record under John Size, 10 starts now two wins and four placings from the former $NZ220,000 yearling by former five-time Group One winner Darci Brahma. More to come, he’ll stretch to a good mile this horse.
Runner-up: THE HULK was ever so brave, up handy then box seating under Joao Moreira before making his run. Just can’t find that winning post in Hong Kong, that’s 14 starts without success after he won three from six starts, including Group 3 success, in New Zealand as ‘Spirits Aubeer’ when trained by Nigel Tiley. Trainer Caspar Fownes is getting closer to finding the key.
Run Of The Race: ROMANTIC COMBO was unbelievably good. The former UK winner had to ease all the way back to last from the widest barrier and had the whole field in front of him. Still back there on the turn he scorched home through the middle of the pack to run fifth, a finish worthy of greater reward. Eclipsed the field with a 22.36 final 400m. He was 15/1 here, will be lucky to go around 4/1 next time.
Disappointment: ARMOR STAR got involved in quite the tussle early doors to maintain the front and was first beaten at $4.50. Returned having bled.
Comparison: Outside standard. A day where the times never reached fever pitch when the early indications suggested we would.
Market Mover: EMERALD SPUR $13.80 to $8.60, ROMANTIC COMBO $24.00 to $15.00
Fined & Suspended: Chad Schofield (TAKING AIM) $25,000 and two days for careless riding near the 1150m mark.