The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Sha Tin on Sunday, February 21th, 2021:
RACE 1 GOLD FUN HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 – All Weather – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:08.70 Standard Time: 1:09.05 Course/Class Record: 1:
Winner: RESOLUTE (NZ 4yo g Per Incanto – Trigon Lass) holds the fence in a three-way battle out in front, takes command as they round the final turn and he is simply too tough for them, a very slick time with no respite from start to finish. He is well named, certainly resolute in his endeavours as others gasped for air he got away from them. He won first up for the season on the dirt and Tony Millard has stayed with that plan since, his seventh consecutive start on the all-weather track realising two wins and three placings, all in Class 4. He now tips over into Class 3 but will be extremely competitive in the higher grade on the dirt. Karis Teetan continues a strong resurgence in form with another winner.
Runner-up: HAPPY TANGO was three-wide on speed and likely the first one to relent but he soon had the favourite beaten on the corner and rallied well to hold second in a real showing of tenacity. Eight starts without a win this term but that must follow, he has placed in three of four runs on the dirt this campaign.
Run Of The Race: RESOLUTE clearly superior, HAPPY TANGO gallant, the rest were not up to the mark today. 120/1 outsider LUMEN BABA did well enough from well back to run into fourth.
Disappointment: UNTOLD RICHES was smashed in the last few rolls of the tote board, $2.10 into $1.50 and backed as if unbeatable. Problem was he was first beaten as they rounded the turn, a positive ride on pace from Purton but the answer was not there when he asked for it. Vetted, and substantial blood found in the trachea.
Comparison: Very slick, they never stopped rolling as the pace was in the race from barrier rise.
Market Mover: UNTOLD RICHES $2.10 to $.50
RACE 2 AMBITIOUS DRAGON HANDICAP HK $2,200,000
Class 2 – Rating 60-40 – ‘A + 3’ Course – Distance 2000m – Track Good
Time: 2:01.55 Standard Time: 2:01.75 Course/Class Record: 1:59.53
Winner: PANFIELD (CHI 4yo g Lookin At Lucky – Esterina II) takes that step forward many had expected he would in start four in Hong Kong, the former star in Chile certainly hinting he was one run away when dashing on strongly into fourth at 1800m in late January. He had won four of five starts in Chile, three at Group One level up to 2400m so it all looked rather suitable for him today and there was no real cause for concern. Trailing throughout after Joao Moreira used gate one to a nicety, the smart stayer was ruthless late, off the bit at the 600m as they sprinted, then into his work as the staying contest kicked in. Much more to come from him, 2000m and beyond is going to suit his style in Hong Kong and more group race success awaits him.
Runner-up: FLYING QUEST was great in the chase, given a nice run fifth the fence under Matthew Poon and strong through the line without looking like beating the winner. His best days may be behind him, the eight-year-old still with plenty of dash in the ageing legs, as he proved winning over 2000m on Boxing Day.
Run Of The Race: RELIABLE TEAM was gallant in defeat; he was pushed along to take command of the race and a sitting duck for the swoopers but he kicked back hard under pressure to hold third in a much-improved run after disappointing the start before.
Disappointment: CHARITY GO really given little chance as they walked through a middle half-mile and he made no effort to reel in some acreage as they cantered along. Once the sprint went on he gave them too much of an advantage and was never a hope to reel them in, finishing fifth.
Comparison: A couple of tenths under standard and not a hectic pace set so the track looks super good for the big days racing.
Market Mover: PANFIELD $2.20 to $1.80
RACE 3 THE QUEENS SILVER JUBILEE CUP HK $12,000,000
Group One – ‘A + 3 Course – Distance 1400m – Track Good
Time: 1:20.78 Standard Time: 1:21.10 Course/Class Record: 1:20.05
Winner: WAIKUKU (IRE 6yo g Harbour Watch – London Plane) was regarded as potentially the best horse in Hong Kong by some earlier in his career, though he did not ultimately match the deeds of a champion like Beauty Generation. He was however able to beat him in races like the Hong Kong Mile (second) and Stewards Cup (won). Third up off an eight-month hiatus, John Size had the star galloper in prime order for the Group One, two at 1600m to have him ready for the sharper version at 400m and he got it spot on, Joao Moreira doing the rest as he gave hm a peach of a ride just off speed and the old dash there for all to see once he pounced on the leaders. Size bags win 1300 in achieving yet more Group 1 success, another amazing achievement from the expatriate Australian. The next step must be a meeting with Golden Sixty?
Runner-up: SOUTHERN LEGEND runs his usual tough as teak race, places yet again in Group 1 company, his third consecutive Group 1 second after chasing home Golden Sixty in the Hong Kong Mile and Stewards Cup. Well in excess of $HK 10 million in earnings this season without winning, what a great horse.
Run Of The Race: Apart from the obvious both MIGHTY GIANT and MORE THAN THIS ran through the line with real purpose and lose no friends in running third and forth respectively. With under 30 starts between them they are still learning the ropes at the highest level and doing a fine job.
Disappointment: KAY YING STAR was unable to take the lead without a fight early and that put paid to his chances, he is not strong late if he works overtime over those early stages.
Comparison: Nicely under standard on a track that appears very even across the board for all runners.
Market Mover: CHAMPION’S WAY $20.00 to $12.00
RACE 4 SUPER KID HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 – ‘A + 3’ Course – Distance 1800m – Track Good
Time: 1:47.79 Standard Time: 1:47.65 Course/Class Record: 1:46.54
Winner: PAKISTAN FRIEND (AUS 6yo g Not A Single Doubt – Heaven Beneath) is ridden to absolute perfection by Tony Piccone, took an easy early lead then stretched them out as he took a six-length lead through the middle stages. Piccone took off again before the corner and they were in trouble, the margin yet to decrease and he had plenty left in the locker. He goes back-to-back for new trainer Chris So in kicking too strongly, the margin rapidly dissolving late but perfectly timed. Win five from start 19 spread over four seasons and four trainers, Tony Cruz had three wins with him earlier on before Paul O’Sullivan and Danny Shum had short stints in charge. Now two starts at 1800m for two wins, he’s never run beyond 1650m prior to his previous win.
Runner-up: JOYFUL HEART got motoring late and made it a little interesting the last four or five strides but came up just short. A real run of outs for him so nice to see a spark in form in his first top three since June 2020. Frankie Lor another subscriber to finding improvement in increasing the race distance, he had been a winner at 1000m and 1400m (twice) previously.
Run Of The Race: The run and the ride 10 out of 10 from PAKISTAN FRIEND. Catching the eye and the sectional standout was PLAY WISE, from last and out wide he got home strongly into fourth in a slick 22.48 the last 400m, eclipsing the field.
Disappointment: EZRA was well backed, got a long way back from a wide gate and never emerged. Punters seemed to follow in the ‘Magic Man’ Moreira again. Vetted, no findings.
Comparison: Just a tick outside of standard, no real surprise they walked early and no intensity came into it until they realised the leader was off and gone.
Market Mover: PAKISTAN FRIEND $8.30 to $4.80, JOYFUL HEART $17.20 to $8.60
RACE 5 CALIFORNIA MEMORY HANDICAP HK $1,000,000
Class 4 – Rating 60-40 – ‘A + 3’ Course – Distance 1400m – Track Good
Time: 1:21.99 Standard Time: 1:21.85 Course/Class Record: 1:20.80
Winner: VUKAN (NZ 4yo g Sacred Falls – Mill Duckie) continues a hot streak for trainer Paul O’Sullivan and rider Derek Leung, the combination winning several races of late and this fellow adds his name to the list in breaking through in just his third race start. Bred to be good, from former smart race mare Mill Duckie (eight wins) the gelding is a product of the Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott stable in New Zealand where he trialled impressively before joining Paul offshore. A step from two at 1200m up to 1400m third up seemed to fully agree with the powerful type, outside leader and too strong in holding a late lunge from the favourite. More to come from this horse.
Runner-up: CHARITY GRACE gained a nice run one off the fence and took a long time to gather himself up and into a rhythm when asked to sprint. His best work was all inside the final 100m when he finally got into his work, but it was too late. He has been sharp at 1400m but realistically looks like a miler through and through.
Run Of The Race: BREEZE OF SPRING comes from last, took the shortcuts close to the rail around the turn and found some gaps to dart through and run third, a clever ride from Karis Teetan who is in great form today. And mark down SAM’S LOVE as one to follow, hanging inwards onto heels at the 300m and clear late, nicely through the line that final furlong.
Disappointment: MASTER HERO ended up wide earlier than needed and carting them into the race. An excuse for him here and not poor by any means, more devoid of racing luck.
Comparison: Just outside standard in quite the walk and sprint type of race. No record ever under threat here.
Market Mover: BREEZE OF SPRING $13.50 to $9.00
RACE 6 GOOD BA HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 – All Weather – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:08.03 Standard Time: 1:08.65 Course/Class Record: 1:07.40
Winner: MAN STAR (AUS 4yo g Shooting To Win – Across The Moon) gives us the first showing of that form that saw him win three from five as ‘Riverside’s Cash’ when trained by Bjorn Baker in Sydney. Four unsuccessful attempts in Hong Kong since November, all at Happy Valley, so trainer Jimmy Ting switches him to the dirt where he had looked well at home pre-Christmas, winning two trials and placing in another brace. Off the back of that surprise to see him go around at 10/1 today, the form analysts would have rated him half that price in ignoring his race form and taking a strong line through his trial runs on the track. The man in form Karis Teetan the man for the job, settling him fifth the fence and once through at the top of the lane it was soon all over.
Runner-up: LUCKY FUN made up many lengths and was powerful late but too far from the winner at the furlong to make up the ground. Another impressive run from the son of Proisir who had won his previous two at 1200m on turf and 1200m on the dirt in January.
Run Of The Race: From last a strong effort from MEGA HEART to make up a lot of ground to run into third. A poor season to date with seven runs this term realising just one third but a nice lift here which may carry him to be fortunes in the future. Three of his four career wins have been on the dirt at Sha Tin.
Disappointment: A super quick time that did not suit all runners and one of the favoured brigade in UTOPIA LIFE did not cope with that today, fading from near the pace. Vetted, no findings.
Comparison: Super time, more than six-tenths under the standard in a very keen affair. Dirt has been on fire today.
Market Mover: FLYING BONUS $17.90 to $11.00
RACE 7 THE CITI HONG KONG GOLD CUP HK $12,000,000
Group One – ‘A + 3’ Course – Distance 2000m – Track Good
Time: 2:00.25 Standard Time: 2:00.55 Course/Class Record: 1:59.30
Winner: GOLDEN SIXTY (AUS 5yo g Medaglia d’Oro – Gaudeamus) gave the punters a fright in finding this an incredible battle over the final stages, FURORE and EXULTANT refusing to yield as the champ ambled up alongside them to dash away as most expected. Vincent Ho found enough in the last few strides to get that nose out at the right time and share in another Group 1 success, far from the easiest he has had during a stellar 17-start, 16-win career to date. Ho admitted he had some concern as Golden Sixty lay in under pressure but backed the champ had he run straight – “If he got his full power (and run straight) he would have won easily”.
Runner-up: FURORE gave it everything, hugged the fence as Golden Sixty was forced to make his run five wide on the turn to avoid traffic and that nearly paid off, Moreira shooting for home on the former Hong Kong Derby winner and nearly causing the upset of the season. He ran 22.44 the last 400m on the fence and Golden Sixty 22.35 five-deep.
Run Of The Race: On the score of making this a race to remember FURORE gets most of the plaudits for his grit and determination in taking on the champ like few have done in the past.
Disappointment: No cause for disappointment here, just a great and three great horses gave their all.
Comparison: A muddled pace, extra spice into it through the middle stages then the big sprint for home.
Market Mover: GOLDEN SIXTY $1.40 to $1.30
RACE 8 LUCKY NINE HANDICAP HK $2,200,000
Class 2 – Rating 100-80 – All Weather– Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:08.03 Standard Time: 1:08.15 Course/Class Record: 1:07.27
Winner: SILVER FIG (AUS 6yo g Hard Spun – Bonifacio) goes back-to-back for a very much in-form trainer Tony Millard who wins his third on the day. After success on January 10 this track and distance the standout grey gelding swoops home again from a mile back to take his third victory in his last six starts, rider Antoine Hamelin using his background knowledge of the horse to the full. This mirrored a May success on this track with the French jockey on board, coming from a long way back to sweep past them wide out. Karis Teetan was the successful rider in January. That is six wins from just 19 starts and a very impressive strike rate from the Australian bred, he won his first two on the turf at Sha Tin and since then four on the dirt.
Runner-up: WE THE SOUTH was well specked by punters to run a race in his all-weather track debut and he did not disappoint, the rapid and diminutive galloper scorching along in front giving them plenty to chase and he found just one good enough to roll him late. Five career wins have all come over 1000m at Happy Valley so a gallant performance to step onto the dirt and up to 1200m for the first time in his career. $24 into $12 on the tote and he nearly paid the believers.
Run Of The Race: SILVER FIG was unmatched, a stunning performance given the magnitude of his task.
Disappointment: UGLY WARRIOR was poor, gate two and immediately into the trail, off the fence at the corner but first beaten. Well supported, and money done cold there. Vetted, substantial blood in the trachea.
Comparison: Quick again on this all-weather track which has produced slick times in each of the races on the surface today.
Market Mover: WE THE SOUTH $24.00 to $12.00, UGLY WARRIOR $7.20 to $4.40
RACE 9 THE HONG KONG CLASSIC CUP HK $12,000,000
4YO’S – ‘A + 3’ Course – Distance 1800m – Track Good
Time: 1:47.21 Standard Time: 1:46.05 Course/Class Record: 1:45.25
Winner: HEALTHY HAPPY (AUS 4yo g Zoustar – Lady Lakshmi) takes a big leap forward, two wins in Hong Kong at Class 3 and Class 2 level, stepping right on up to the 4yo classic company and belying his relative inexperience. Beautifully handled by leading trainer Frankie Lor, the son of Zoustar has been set a task to match up with the gun four-year-olds, took them on in the Hong Kong Classic Mile in January and did well from gate 14 in a hot field. A kinder middle draw here and Alexis Badel made a beeline for the front, controlled the tempo from the beginning and held an avalanche of chasers at bay. So, obviously very pleasing for Lor and connections in his ability to step to 1800m for the first time, he had only had one run at 1600m previously. We see some real versatility in his game given he had won at 1200m and 1400m to get his campaign underway. A force to be reckoned with.
Runner-up: RUSSIAN EMPEROR exceeds expectations in flying home into second at 80/1, a superb run from the former Group 3 winner in Great Britain (1993m) in just his third race start in Hong Kong. Progressive steps from 1400m to 1600m now to the 1800m obviously up his alley and he is much stronger this time.
Run Of The Race: Badel rated the winner so nicely in front and gave those having a wee snooze little chance. Firing home from back were RUSSIAN EMPEROR, EXCELLENT PROPOSAL and PACKING WALTHAM in particular.
Disappointment: More disappointed for luck was 4/1 chance LUCKY EXPRESS who gained a soft trip on the fence. When Karis Teetan took the natural movement outward at the turn he ran into traffic trouble and no joy came from that. Under a hold over the final stages and one to turn the page on. LUCKY PATCH returned with mucus in the trachea.
Comparison: Incredible really, Alexis Badel was able to steal this over a second outside of standard in a $12 million race.
Market Mover: LUCKY PATCH $14.20 to $9.20
Suspended: Alexis Badel (HEALTHY HAPPY) for careless riding approaching the 1100m mark. Two days.
RACE 10 WERTHER HANDICAP HK $1,500,000
Class 3 – Rating 80-60 – ‘A + 3’ Course – Distance 1400m – Track Good
Time: 1:21.09 Standard Time: 1:21.65 Course/Class Record: 1:20.62
Winner: TEMPEST EXPRESS (NZ 4yo g Proisir – Pemba Nepali) lands a quick and late double for Antoine Hamelin who boots the Kiwi bred home to his second victory in a month for leading trainer John Size. A real upward curve from the son of Proisir after six misses to start his career in Hong Kong but a recent drop back from 1600m and 1800m back to the 1400m has proven a winning recipe. This horse won two of three for Joseph Pride in Sydney as ‘Napster’ and both came at 1250m at Canterbury. In a race that suited the swoopers off a strong pace upfront this gelding was able to find a nice spot back of midfield three-deep from a wide gate and was undeniable wide out, holding the late charge from FLAGSHIP GLORY. He has draw 12,9,13, and 11 in his last four starts so we might see something even better when he draws a gate.
Runner-up: FLAGSHIP GLORY flew wide, gave them a big start and dashed home to make the final few strides interesting. Really progressive, just two starts into his Hong Kong career and super strong on both occasions from well back. Two wins in Britain both came at 1600m and we likely expect him to reach that mark in the next start or two.
Run Of The Race: Plenty highlight, BELUGA back on the fence and stiff not to get gaps until late darting into third, STOICISM powerful late from back, PERFECT PAIR swift from last and impressive in his work the last furlong. PERFECT PAIR was strung up behind tiring runners and never into the clear, one to be on next time. PRIME MINISTER lacked clear galloping room.
Disappointment: Plenty of money about for TELECOM FIGHTERS but he did not respond off a handy trip.
Comparison: A big turnaround in tempo from the previous event in running well under standard.
Market Mover: TELECOM FIGHTERS $10.00 to $6.40, TEMPEST EXPRESS $10.80 to $7.70
Suspended: Vagner Borges (DIAMOND BRILLIANT) for careless riding around the home turn – two days.
Golden Sixty and Vincent Ho just get up, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club