The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Sha Tin on Sunday, January 10th, 2021:
RACE 1 LAM TIN HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 – Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.96 Standard Time: 1:09.25 Course/Class Record: 1:08.45
Winner: LUCKY FUN (NZ 4yo g Proisir – Emerged) lost the rider first up when expected to run well, arrived back on track a month later to run on strongly into fifth position on Boxing Day over 1200m and would peak for this third up as Danny Shum finds that week-by-week improvement in the Kiwi bred. A horse that had shown good promise offshore at the trials, and since arriving in Hong Kong. Racing much handier today, Zac Purton had him in the trail and racing a little keenly, so he popped him one-off to show him so clear air outside the leader and from the point of the turn a procession, he ran away to win rather easily. Dam won to 1800m so there is some wiggle room with him moving forward.
Runner-up: ZONE D was strong on debut, slowly out of the gates as they all expected after showing no tendency to want to jump with them at the trials. Back last and with plenty to do earing the corner Joao Moreira worked into some space and managed to track BRANDING POWER through mid-pack to out-finish that horse and run a big second. John Size will keep working on those barrier manners as he has a horse capable of winning races. Comfortably the fastest final 400m in the race running 22.91.
Run Of The Race: ZONE D excellent from last, also mark down a couple of debutants who ran on soundly late. Mossman gelding SILVERY WARRIOR was nice and solid in his endeavours from the turn to the winning post to pick up fourth money, and UNIVERSAL CROWN came from last at the home bend to finish on nicely into fifth. Something further than 1200m looks likely to suit them all.
Disappointment: Not disappointing but a little plain was BRANDING POWER from 200m to winning post allowing ZONE D to come from a long way behind him and go straight past.
Comparison: Slow. That is about it. They walked along here and this no indication of track conditions.
Market Mover: SUNDAY BETTING $131.00 to $54.00
RACE 2 SAU MAU PING HANDICAP HK $750,000
Class 5 – Rating 40-0 – Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1400m – Track Good
Time: 1:23.07 Standard Time: 1:22.15 Course/Class Record: 1:21.53
Winner: COPARTNER ERA (AUS 5yo g Testa Rossa – Song Shan) finally breaks through for the maiden success, it had been a while coming, producing some strong performances at times in Class 4 without all things going his way. Then the odd disappointing one. The drop to Class 5 was quite obviously all he needed, and a little bit of Alexis Badel magic dust to get clear when needed. That was the issue, he had traffic to overcome at the 300m mark and the French rider worked his way through that, off heels (a suspension would follow) and off after the leaders to pick them up nicely. At $7.70 over the odds today, he had gone around $3, $5, and $7 in his last three starts in Class 4. The loyal followers got paid today. A $180,000 sale at the Magic Millions as a yearling then turned over for $HK 2.2 million at the 2019 International Sale.
Runner-up: CITY LEGEND is still to win in Hong Kong, start 30 today and agonisingly close again to success, just found one better again, as he has on now 10 occasions. He is a long-time trier but a genuine old guy, now seven and with Benno Yung since he started racing in January 2017. Given a good ride by Jerry Chau today.
Run Of The Race: CALIFORNIA LEGEND was trapped three wide the majority and still gunning his way through the line at the end in third, a brave performance from out in a wide gate. He’s won a couple in Hong Kong from 31 starts, 1600m and 1800m his winning trips and a step back from 1650m to 1400m today seemed to work. Should win soon from a low gate in Class 5. VICTORIOUS LEADER the unlucky one, twice checked in the straight and goes in the black book.
Disappointment: WONDER EXPRESS got back of middle and strung up in traffic, did cop a check halfway down the run but he did not look like a winner at any stage, really. His first run in Class 5 since breaking through in the grade in April 2020. May be better suited in the next couple of starts. Vetted, blood in the trachea.
Comparison: Again, a long way outside of standard, this one also seemed more tempo related than underfoot conditions.
Market Mover: CALIFORNIA LEGEND $5.60 to $3.40
Suspended: Alexis Badel (COPARTNER ERA) careless riding at the 175m mark. Two days.
RACE 3 SAN PO KONG HANDICAP HK $750,000
Class 5 – Rating 40-0 – All Weather – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.61 Standard Time: 1:09.30 Course/Class Record: 1:08.46
Winner: SUPREME PATROL (SAF 6yo g Var – Convenant) proves there is a race for everyone in taking his Hong Kong maiden in start 25 for South African horseman David Ferraris, victory fourth up for the season after three unsuccessful attempts on three different tracks, Happy Valley, Sha Tin, and the Sha Tin all-weather. Bake Shinn makes the most of a quick jump out of the gates to leap straight not the trail following favoured runners, switched of heels with purpose at the mid-way point in the straight and ran clear to win easily. We can go all the way back to a polytrack win at Greyville in South Africa in March 2018 to get a pointer for this, the only one. Good to see him break through.
Runner-up: JADE THEATRE had hinted at this when solid late and beaten two-lengths on this track at this distance on November 29. A good old freshen up since then, a quiet trial December 29 to keep him ticking and he looked quite ready for this. Three deep the fence and following the winner all the way he was clearly next best versus the field. Right on the 40-point threshold he will now head back to Class 4 for a start or two. Wins one soon - probably in Class 5.
Run Of The Race: Winner and runner up did not do anything super special; they just did their jobs well as others were either plain or had their chance.
Disappointment: Outside leader and dictating terms, the $1.80 favourite TREASURE CHEST had his chance, not good enough on the day, certainly well below the high standards he set winning easily here on December 6. STRATHCLYDE was seemingly a length or two below his best form of late that had seen him competing and nearly winning on this track after Happy Valley success on the turf. Perhaps he needed this one, we will keep him onside given his form of late. Vetted, no findings.
Comparison: Looked like about par being three-tenths above standard. They did not walk it.
Market Mover: TREASURE CHEST $2.30 to $1.80
RACE 4 NGAU CHI WAN HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 – Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1400m – Track Good
Time: 1:22.57 Standard Time: 1:21.85 Course/Class Record: 1:20.80
Winner: SPEED FAY FAY (AUS 4yo g Hinchinbrook – Willow) capitalised on a beautiful trip in the one-out one-back position and a smooth Chad Schofield ride to win this well, continues a fine season in picking up a second win for the term after success at this track and distance on November 1, Schofield the pilot that day, too. He continued with two placings to follow up, and back into the winner’s circle today with 54 rating points, now edging his way into Class 3 for perhaps the first time in his career next start. A big horse, he has found his groove this season after a relatively unsuccessful opening gambit in 2019-2020 when he raced eight times for a single placing. Trainer Benno Yung has now tapped into the necessary improvement from the former $110,000 Magic Millions Yearling Sale buy.
Runner-up: PEARL CHAMPION chased hard, gave a good kick 150m out to make it a little interesting and was safely held at the line. A big lift in form after five ordinary ones this season, two of those on the all-weather track where he had been unable to get going at all, another three on the turf. Rated 46 points into today’s contest so he will remain in Class 4 for a few starts at least, he was angling towards a drop to Class 5 given the trajectory of the formline.
Run Of The Race: GREEN ENVY picked up good ground late again from well back of midfield and he forged his way ahead to pick up several runners to grab third money. Improved now, he bolted in on Boxing Day in Class 5 on this track and backs it up with another good one, rising in class and dropping in weight. He will win one in Class 4 based on this. GOLDEN FOUR must go in the black book, a nice effort late from last in picking up several lengths in the run home. JOYFUL HEART also did some nice work late but was too far back.
Disappointment: WINNING STEED did not make an impression as a well backed runner, back from a wide gate and never close enough. Traffic issues in the straight but rider Zac Purton said he was on a beaten horse.
Comparison: Track conditions seem to be playing on the dead side, we have had mixed messages early in the day but the pattern has been well above standard in all four races now.
Market Mover: GREEN ENVY $3.50 to $2.50
RACE 5 KWUN TONG HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 – Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1000m – Track Good
Time: 0:57.02 Standard Time: 0:56.50 Course/Class Record: 0:55.07
Winner: LIKE THAT (AUS 3yo g Akeed Mofeed – Calemore) has taken all of four starts this season to really prep him up for the tougher racing. He was a natural Griffin last term winning twice for John Moore but the transition to Class 3 would not prove an easy one initially. Now he finds his way into Class 4 the stars align, guided through this by a lovely patient ride from Joao Moreira he uses an outside gate to perfection in saving every inch of ground required. That is more like it, and there will be more to come yet, he still looks shy of his real body mass and Frankie Lor will gain a lot of improvement out of him over the next 12 months. Brave run under 133lb today, a good sign.
Runner-up: NOBLE DESIRE saw some good support internationally and the betting confidence matched the performance, a smart effort coming over from a lower draw to share the pace in centre-track, striking the front and looking a winning chance until three big late strides from the former. A terribly similar sort of result to his second placing on this track at this distance on December 20, though he was ridden further back that day, this time more urgent early. Still to win in 15 runs but going well. Deserves quick reward this horse. And a good draw!
Run Of The Race: NOBLE DESIRE never shirked his task; others did but he was great in going down a small margin in the final hops. Must mention AMAZING ROCKY, he was at the lowest point of the track and working all the way, gallant in his quest into fifth money. UNITED WE STAND also great in third coming from that low part of the track. DECISIVE TWELVE and GRACYLOVE both get good solid pass marks making up handy ground.
Disappointment: GOKO has had his success at this course and distance but disappointing today after sharing the pace out wide and far from his best effort in weakening to seventh.
Comparison: A full half-second outside of standard and that tells the tale today, if they do not run time up the chute, they do not on the course proper, either.
Market Mover: MOERAKI $13.50 to $8.00, NOBLE DESIRE $28.00 to $20.00
RACE 6 NGAU TAU KOK HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 – Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1600m – Track Good
Time: 1:34.86 Standard Time: 1:34.70 Course/Class Record: 1:33.78
Winner: LEADING FORTUNE (FR 5yo g Siyouni – Nayara) has already chalked up nine starts this season, a rather busy time for him capped by a smart win, and a deserved one at that. He had been unlucky not to win one of his last three or four, today a wide gate played into his hands in the end as the leader came back to them and he was presented in centre track with a full head of steam. A get back, run on strongly type, he was well suited by today’s tempo and with a genuine front-runner in the field in All For St Pauls it made for a good contest. Win three form start 20, he was successful twice last season at 1400m on the big track at Sha Tin and takes the 1600m victory this time. Would like to see John Size throw him over 1800m or 2000m and have a try, he could be lethal if he stays another furlong or two.
Runner-up: CHEERFUL DAYS is finding his way, just the fifth start of his career today and another brave performance for an inexperienced horse. He was last seen on Boxing Day when trying 1600m for the first time and he charged home, pointing to a prominent performance here. Outgunned late in the race by the speed of the winner. The winner of two trials in New Zealand before making his way to Hong Kong, the son of Smart Missile looks a promising miler to middle distance horse. Raced handier today than he had been.
Run Of The Race: Outside of a superior performance from winner LEADING FORTUNE a coupe that played big roles late and must watch horses in the future were RAINBOW LIGHT and STUNNING IMPACT who came from the last two positions in the race to fill fourth and fifth respectively. The former having his first run on turf after two on the dirt for Douglas Whyte, the latter backing up off two fine third placings at 1400m and good again at the mile for Paul O’Sullivan.
Disappointment: Not his best today, ALL FOR ST PAULS usually gives us a better kick than that, today he had no answer early in the run home after leading and a disappointing run from this usually tough warrior. Connections considering a freshen up after being disappointed. DECISIVE ACTION also below his best, well backed to win, gained a good run, and no dash, vetted and substantial blood found in the trachea.
Comparison: Just outside standard and it looked like a great tempo, certainly was against the times in the earlier races.
Market Mover: DECISIVE ACTION $5.00 to $3.70
Suspended: Vagner Borges (PAKISTAN FRIEND) careless riding at the 150m mark - two days.
RACE 7 DIAMOND HILL HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 – Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.13 Standard Time: 1:09.05 Course/Class Record: 1:08.31
Winner: SIGHT SUCCESS (AUS 4yo g Magnus – Tarp) shared the lead on the rail after a quick start, looked a little uncomfortable in that role in stages of the race but once Joao asked the $1.15 favourite to lengthen, he did the job as expected. Not the most explosive win you will see from a red-hot commodity, but in the end comfortable. Two starts two wins to begin his racing career, an exciting horse with John Size who made his way over from Australia then picked up a leg fracture in March which saw time on the sideline and a recuperative process at Conghua. Time well-spent, he has grown into a very smart horse with plenty more to come. Class 3 debut here and quickly on his way to Class 2.
Runner-up: TORNADO TWIST was the one sitting pretty fourth and waiting for his boarding pass, fired a good sprint at them at the furlong but the winner too classy on the day. Picking his form up nicely after a slow start to his season, the four-time winner has not won since a stellar 2018-2019 season when he won four from nine for John Size then went off the boil, joined Frankie Lor in May 2020 and he is only now finding that old swagger. Winning form imminent on latest form.
Run Of The Race: KING’S CAPITAL worked hard against the grain, it was all about those on or near the speed here and he came from a long back to run bravely into fourth in his second start in Hong Kong at 144/1. David Hayes has a task to get the former two-time Kiwi winner back into the winner’s circle off a tough mark of 68 points, but on this there is definite hope.
Disappointment: No disappointments here, they ran it as expected, the winner was expected and the rest followed home as expected.
Comparison: A good strong tempo and just 0.08 outside of standard, based on the par score for the day this was well ahead of the curve.
Market Mover: SIGHT SUCCESS $1.30 to $1.15
RACE 8 JORDAN VALLEY HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 – All Weather – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:08.93 Standard Time: 1:08.65 Course/Class Record: 1:07.40
Winner: SILVER FIG (AUS 6yo g Hard Spun – Bonifacio) makes the most of a hot pace up-front to swoop and score, not the first time he has done this, in fact twice last season on this track he did the same thing to win. Such a good follower off a strong clip, the Australian-bred registers win four from start 17 for trainer Tony Millard, a man who has a good record with these all-weather track horses, this fellow one of his better ones. Karis Teetan has been quiet by his standards over the last couple of months but a classy ride here, summed it up early, tagged on wide with cover at the appropriate time and there to make his claim at the top of the lane. USA sire Hard Spun comes from a prolific dirt-track background and this shines through in this gelding.
Runner-up: GUNNAR was gallant, the son of Hinchinbrook was working all the way to maintain his position in front and sharing the speed on the rail, a real tussle from barrier rise to the end for those in the front group. He never stopped giving in the straight, a bold try in maintaining a slick run of form on the all-weather track, a win, three seconds, and a third in his last five. Well weighted at present in Class 3 he should win another very soon.
Run Of The Race: Outside of the winner, TAKE WHAT YOU NEED was excellent in fourth, rattling home strongly off that speed up front to gather most of them in from a long way back. Douglas Whyte will have taken note of this, and we expect a horse to follow in his next start on the dirt given this was his first in 16 career starts for a rather positive result.
Disappointment: Favourite SUPER ALLIANCES dashed into it early in the run home along the rail then seemed to get anchored, whether the going was a little tougher down there or he peaked on his run to be established. Usually a lot stronger through the line than this and the race was run to suit him. Vetted, substantial blood in the trachea.
Comparison: A little outside standard but a strongly run affair which suited those off speed and seemed to offer all horses a chance.
Market Mover: GUNNAR $9.50 to $5.20, GOLFMAN STAR $25.80 to $16.70
RACE 9 KOWLOON BAY HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 – Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1600m – Track Good
Time: 1:34.21 Standard Time: 1:34.50 Course/Class Record: 1:33.27
Winner: SUPER FOOTBALL (NZ 4yo g More Than Ready – Raziyya Of Sydney) was racing keenly beyond midfield and wanting to get going sooner than Zac Purton would allow him. In his favour a strong clip in front which would see him benefit later. At the 300m a half-gap then enough space to get cracking and the response was a mirror image of his two previous outings in Hong Kong, strong over that final two furlongs. He never won and ran in Group company twice in New Zealand before making his way to Hong Kong to join up with Jimmy Ting. The signs have been rather promising ever since, some nice work on track leading to his three impressive race returns. If he relaxes a little better Ting will get a good 2000m out of him.
Runner-up: BEAUTY DAY was the subject of strong local support at long odds and he went close to repaying the faith. Trailed a free-rolling leader in Smoothies, pounced at the top of the straight to take command and it came down to only one horse being that little bit better on the day. He has been a little disappointing of late, a genuine on-pace runner but not so strong in his three runs off a spell before today’s clear improvement.
Run Of The Race: PERFECT TO GREAT and SPLENDOUR AND GOLD were both running this out strongly from back, the latter from basically last on the fence on the turn, picking paths closer to the inside rail.
Disappointment: CHEVALIER PRINCE was third line inner and off the fence in plenty of time around the turn. He just did not cope today, when Joao said go, he said no. A poor one from a promising horse, and one to forgive, Frankie Lor will go back to the drawing board and sort that out. Vetted, substantial mucus found in the trachea and will have to barrier trial. CASAMIRO never fired after getting back from a wide gate. Vetted, mucus in the trachea.
Comparison: They flew to run three-tenths under standard, well against the pattern today and it showed, the leaders collapsed in a heap. Great to see a hot speed.
Market Mover: BEAUTY DAY $41.00 to $20.00
RACE 10 CHOI HUNG HANDICAP HK $2,200,000
Class 2 – Rating 100-80 – Turf ‘C’ Course – Distance 1400m – Track Good
Time: 1:21.06 Standard Time: 1:21.35 Course/Class Record: 1:20.29
Winner: NOT USUAL TALENT (NZ 6yo g Zacinto – Compact Pussycat) bounces back to his best and it seemed a while. It was, he was last a winner in July 2019 and it has been a hard road for the Kiwi-bred to maintain that form since in a tough Class 2 environment. Just the seven starts last season and winless, he was fifth-up this term in finally cracking it again for trainer Benno Yung who has obviously ridden the highs and lows with this gelding. Gate one the key today, he was sharper at 1400m after dropping back from three runs at a mile, rider Tony Piccone finding that almost perfect three-deep the fence run, picked a late path in tight quarters one-off the fence and burst through. Particularly good ride that. For a horse that has won once in 18 months he is being severely tested in the ratings, 93 points today and to around 100 off this win. In eleven unsuccessful runs after that July 2019 win, he lost just one rating point,
Runner-up: LUCKY PATCH gave favourite backers a good sight, shared the speed and pounced when needed, looked a good winning chance 250m out and was done late. Maintenance of a strong record in Hong Kong, now four starts for two wins and two placings from this former unbeaten runner in Queensland, two-from-two there at Doomben as ‘Paleontologist’. A horse rapidly rising in the ratings and Frankie Lor will have to decide where to head next in this tough Class 2 grade. Remember he won on the all-weather track first up in Hong Kong to show his versatility.
Run Of The Race: BEAUTY SMILE and PRECIOUSHIP came from wide gates and were wide, had plenty to do from the 600m to winning post and both did some fine work, albeit some way from the first three. PRECIOUSHIP ran 22.59 the last 400m, bettered only by the winner. Include both next time, particularly from kinder draws. BEAUTY SMILE at times four-wide and his effort a particularly good one.
Disappointment: EXCELLENT PROPOSAL was slow to go, back of midfield and with lots to do late in the race if he were to win his fourth race on end. Not to be, Joao Moreira stating he felt comfortable and was disappointing when he asked him to go. John Size told stewards a break of three-months since last racing may have been an excuse but was happy with his work.
Comparison: Slow old day on the track then the Class 2 gallopers break standard in a slick finish to the day. The better the horse the better the time.
Market Mover: LUCKY PATCH $4.20 to $2.80
Blake Shinn acknowledges the win on Supreme Control, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club