Hong Kong


The Davis Files - Sha Tin review

The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Sha Tin on Sunday, January 16th, 2022:

Race 1 – Un Chau Handicap, HK $780,000
Class 5 – All Weather - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:38.87 Standard Time: 1:39.70 Course/Class record: 1:38.30 Apolar Warrior
Winner: EL VALIENTE (AUS 5yo g Savabeel – Valdemoro) jumped on terms but didn’t show much pace in the early going, settling about midfield and along the rail under Joao Moreira. The pace was good throughout the middle stages as Moreira inched his way forward down the back straight as the leaders pulled away turning off the back. Moreira started to urge the gelding along with 550m to run and already had him under the whip with 450m to go, but the five-year-old was responding and was running on well as they straightened. He kept on well down the straight to storm past the leaders out near the centre of the track and pulled away over the final stages to bolt in by 3-3/4 lengths, breaking his maiden at start 19.
Runner-Up: RUN DES RUN got away well but with the pace shown by runners drawn outside, Zac Purton found himself positioned around midfield and one off the rail as the field settled. He remained in the trail throughout the middle stages and was positioned to the outside of the eventual winner down the back straight. Purton pulled out the 647kg beast with 550m to run ad started applying the pressure as he began to improve around the outside of the field. He was being pushed wider and wider on the course as his rivals began to also make their moves, but he was able to build his momentum into the straight and was running on well. He was no match for the winner, but he closed off solidly to run into second position.
Run Of The Race: It took a while, but EL VALIENTE is a maiden no more after a dominant win. He was rated beautifully under Joao Moreira, and he showed good ability to storm home over the top and win by a big space. Judging off today’s win, it wouldn’t surprise to see him win again in the near future.
Disappointment: EVEN KEEL jumped well and was sent forward by Alex Badel to sit on the pace. He eased back to obtain cover with 900m to run, taking a position on the back of the leader. Badel started to niggle at the gelding with 600m remaining as he attempted to chase down the breakaway leader, but he began to weaken shortly after turning into the straight. He would drift back through the field to finish in 11th position, beaten 16-1/4 lengths. A veterinary examination failed to show any abnormality.
Comparison: Well inside the standard.
Market Mover: RUN DES RUN jumped a solid favourite, while WONDERFUL FANTASY was heavily backed despite jumping at $45 odds.

Race 2 – Pak Tin Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:09.78 Standard Time: 1:09.10 Course/Class record: 1:08.40 Master Eight
Winner: GOLDEN EMPIRE (FR 4yo g Fastnet Rock – Pretty Paper) got away well but Zac Purton elected to slide back from the wide draw to settle toward the back of the field. Purton had the gelding settled well around the turn, before coming off the rail to start building into the race with 550m to run. He was able to get a great trail into the race before coming out toward the centre of the track at the top of the straight. He sprinted well when asked by Purton to take the lead passing the 150m point, getting his neck in front and holding that advantage to the line to get his first win on the board at just start number three.
Runner-Up: STREET SCREAM broke quickly and was the leader in the early stages, before gaining a trailing spot on the back of the leader with 900m left to run. Matthew Chadwick had the gelding relaxed in behind the leaders, despite a couple of his rivals fired up and over racing on his outside. Chadwick bided his time, staying in behind the leaders despite being under some pressure, before pushing his way into the clear with 200m to run. He finished off the race well over the final stages, but the winner was just too good.
Run Of The Race: PACKING AWARD carried the top weight in the 1200m event and took up a leading role under Karis Teetan. The pace was quite good through the middle stages, before putting in a good kick at the top of the straight. He tried his hardest to the line, being just edged out for a photo finish to end up in fourth position but was giving 7lbs (3kg) to his rivals that beat him.
Disappointment: Plenty of money came for the Paul O’Sullivan-trained SCIENCE PATCH late in betting but settled toward the back of the field after jumping slightly awkwardly. He was absolutely bolting as they turned into the straight, but Vagner Borges was stuck behind a wall of runners with no where to go. Borges was finally able to get going on the gelding with 200m to run and he closed off very well, but it was too little too late.
Comparison: Outside standard.
Market Mover: SCIENCE PATCH and NATURAL GOLD were both specked at long odds, jumping at $21 and $39 respectively.

Race 3 – Tai Hang Tung Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – All Weather - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:38.92 Standard Time: 1:38.90 Course/Class record: 1:37.76 Gold Comet
Winner: APACHE PASS (AUS 5yo g War Chant – Apache Point) got away well from barrier four but was caught a touch wide as they went around the first turn, but was able to slot into the one-out-one-back position with 1300m left to travel. He travelled well down the back straight with the pace fair through the middle stages of the race. Vincent Ho started to make his move with 550m remaining, popping off heels and coming three-wide as he began to build his momentum around the turn, going up to join the leaders as they straightened. He kept building in the early part of the straight to take the lead passing the 200m point and was strong right through to the line to keep his rivals at bay and win by a neck at massive $43 odds.
Runner-Up: SUN OF MAKFI jumped on terms but opted out of the speed battle early on to settle around midfield and one off the rail once the field were fully into stride. He settled well under Matthew Chadwick despite being sandwiched between runners down the back straight. He was travelling well and still under a good hold as they turned for home, with Chadwick easing the gelding off heels to lay down his challenge. He began to wind up passing the 200m and he closed off the race very well, but he couldn’t reel in the leader over the final stages.
Run Of The Race: APACHE PASS turned in a brilliant effort under a great ride by Vincent Ho to get the win under the big weight. He had been unplaced in his previous 7 starts in Hong Kong, but was racing in Class 4 company for the first time. He was rated beautifully by Vincent Ho who was riding him for the first time, and he showed good strength to get the win.
Disappointment: ALL JOYFUL didn’t show much early speed and was taken back by Zac Purton to settle toward the back of the pack. He remained there throughout the race, but was tracking well as they began to swing for home with Purton staying one off the rail rather than going wider on the track. He was running on well in the early part of the straight, but ran into a wall of runners passing the 200m point and had to be restrained by Purton. He couldn’t get into clear air and went to the line under hands and heels without being tested in the final 150m, finishing in eighth position, beaten 4-1/2 lengths in a brutal watch for favourite backers. 
Comparison: Right on standard time.
Market Mover: ALL JOYFUL jumped a well-supported favourite as COURAGEOUS KNIGHT was backed at long odds.

Race 4 – Cheung Sha Wan Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:09.18 Standard Time: 1:08.90 Course/Class record: 1:08.29 Dublin Star
Winner: THE HULK (AUS 6yo g Spirit Of Boom – Friendly Girl) jumped on terms but was snagged back from his outside draw to settle at the rear of the field and had to be urged along with 950m to run to keep in touch with the back of the field. He was still last with 600m to run as Teetan began to apply the pressure to the gelding, getting a good trail into the race as they straightened. He was building nicely as the widest runner on straightening to join the leaders with 150m to run, before taking over at the 100m point and creeping away to win by three-quarters of a length in an impressive last-to-first victory.
Runner-Up: WAR OF COURAGE was revved up out of the gates but didn’t muster much pace, settling midfield and in the three-wide line. He was travelling along nicely in the trail, sitting just behind the leading division as Matthew Chadwick began putting him into the race as they straightened. It took him a while to wind up in the straight, but he ran on well over the final 200m, shooting between runners to run on into second position despite being no match for the winner.
Run Of The Race:  THE HULK won brilliantly and although he won from last today, he jumped well enough to be able to settle in a more prominent position if he draws better at his next outing. The favourite LIGHTNING BOLT had absolutely no luck in the final stages, being pocketed passing the 200m point and unable to get into the clear. But when he did get out with 100m to go, he finished off the race very strongly and looks one to stick with next time out.
Disappointment: It was back-to-back hard luck stories for Zac Purton, as SPEEDY MOUSE followed the same fate as his previous runner and was held up for the majority of the straight, going to the line relatively untested to finish back in eighth position.
Comparison: Outside standard.
Market Mover: LIGHTNING BOLT was a well-backed favourite while money also came for SUPER FORTUNE.

Race 5 – Shek Kip Mei Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1400m - Track Good
Time: 1:22.46 Standard Time: 1:21.75 Course/Class record: 1:20.80 Perfect Pair
Winner: EN POINT (AUS 4yo g Hallowed Crown – La Parisienne) jumped on terms and was eased back in the early stages by Joao Moreira to settle midfield, staying away from the rail. He was travelling well around the turn but seemed to be in a spot of bother passing the 550m point as Moreira began niggling the gelding along, but he was responding as they swung into the straight. The seas parted as they straightened and Moreira got the gun run, sprinting up between runners and having clear air the whole way down the straight, taking the lead with 275m remaining. He took the lead and it was all over, running away from his rivals to win easily by three-quarters of a length.
Runner-Up: CHEERFUL LEADER was caught out very wide in the early stages from barrier 10, with Harry Bentley settling three-wide and midfield in the early going and getting cover with 950m remaining to take up a trailing position. Bentley continued to follow the trail around the corner and into the straight as he popped off heels upon straightening. He stuck on well down the straight and took some ground off the leader in the final stages but he was never a threat, holding second by another three-quarters of a length.
Run Of The Race: EN POINT was able to finally break through at start number three after two promising runs to begin his career. He looks a progressive galloper who continues to improve and he’s sure to have more wins in store.
Disappointment: WIN WIN went back from the awkward draw under Matthew Poon and settled at the back of the field throughout the event. He made some ground in the straight, but he was simply too far back to feature in the finish, ending up in ninth place and beaten 3-1/2 lengths.
Comparison: Well outside standard time.
Market Mover: DRAGON BABY was the one punters came for.

Race 6 – So Uk Handicap, HK $1,040,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1600m - Track Good
Time: 1:35.21 Standard Time: 1:34.65 Course/Class record: 1:33.78 Morethanlucky
Winner:  CORDYCEPS TWO (AUS 4yo g Kermadec – Seesawing) broke well and went forward under Vagner Borges to settle in second position one off the rail. He was travelling well and wasn’t fighting the rider despite racing with the mouth ajar as they turned off the back. Borges sat about a length off the leader around the turn and started asking the gelding for an effort passing the 500m point, but he responded well to take the lead shortly after straightening. He was a sitting duck for much of the straight and was challenged with 200m to run, but he held on strongly to fight off the challenger to win by a short head.
Runner-Up: LEADING FORTUNE jumped on terms but was allowed to find his stride under Joao Moreira, who eased him back from the wide draw, settling three-wide with cover just back of midfield. He travelled well out the back despite the pace slowing around the turn, with Moreira coming off heels with 600m to run to keep his momentum. He placed the gelding under pressure shortly after and he was lengthening well as they swung into the straight, circling the field as he began to eat into the margin. He ran up to join the leader with 200m to go, but just couldn’t get his nose in front over the concluding stages, going down narrowly with a further 1-1/4 back to third. 
Run Of The Race: CORDCYCEPS TWO showed so much grit and determination to fight off the challengers and hold on for a narrow victory.
Disappointment: RING BELLS lobbed in a fantastic position just off the pace and with cover. He was travelling well, but came off the bridle when the pace quickened on the turn and didn’t respond to the urgings of Alexis Badel in the straight. He didn’t pick up and finished back in 12th place, beaten 6-1/2 lengths.
Comparison: Outside standard time.
Market Mover: CORDYCEPS TWO had support despite jumping at $32.

Race 7 – Nam Shan Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – All Weather - Distance 1800m - Track Good
Time: 1:46.89 Standard Time: 1:48.05 Course/Class record: 1:46.68 Glorious Artist
Winner: ROMANTIC COMBO (IRE 5yo g Cappella Sansevero – Varnay) was away on terms but drifted back under Karis Teetan to avoid being caught wide on the track, settling just worse than midfield and one off the rail. The pace was good through the first half of the race and the five-year-old settled well under Teetan as they travelled down the back straight. He popped off three-wide with about 900m to run, but had cover as he improved his position turning off the back straight. He continued to slide around the outside of the field and was placed under pressure with 500m to run, but was responding to Teetan’s urgings and began to run on well as they straightened. He dug deep and showed plenty of fight over the final 100m to gun down the leader and win by a neck in an emphatic finish.
Runner-Up:  KING’S CAPITAL was fairly away but went back early on under Antoine Hamelin to get cover, settling toward the rear of the field as they turned into the back straight. He was travelling well around the turn and got onto the back of the eventual winner as they swung into the home straight. He got into the clear and was running home strongly from the rear to run into second position in a tight photo finish.
Run Of The Race: CHANCHENG PRINCE was caught wide in the early stages with Zac Purton pushing on to take the lead midway down the back straight. Purton went for home at the top of the straight and quickly put a margin between he and the rest of the field and looked the winner 200m from home. But the tough run in the early stages caught up to him late, tiring the last 100m to finish third. It was a huge run by the flashy grey, and there’s no reason to jump off him.
Disappointment: SKYEY SUPREME crossed to take the lead in the early stages of the race after jumping from barrier 13 and was a big reason for the good speed on offer early. He was challenged down the back straight, but Moreira held onto the lead until straightening, where the gelding began to weaken, finishing in 12th position and 10-1/4 lengths off the winner.
Comparison: Well inside the standard time, only 0.2 seconds off the record.
Market Mover: CHANCHENG PRINCE was well-supported and jumped favourite and ROMANTIC COMBO was also well backed.

Race 8 – Lai Kok Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1600m - Track Good
Time: 1:34.47 Standard Time: 1:34.35 Course/Class record: 1:33.19 Beauty Fit
Winner: SIGHT SPIRIT (AUS 4yo g Toronado – Marmelo) got away well from barrier 11 and went forward under Joao Moreira, who was able to cross to the rail with 1100m to run in an impressive ride in the early stages. He settled with cover too, finding the leader’s back and enjoying a lovely run in transit as Moreira waited patiently for his time to strike. The leader came away from the rail as they straightened which gave Moreira a clear and unobstructed run along the fence, shooting through at the top of the straight with the gelding quickening nicely to take the lead. He quickly put a length on his rivals and continued to pull away over the final 200m, winning in impressive fashion by 2-1/4 lengths to make it a hat-trick of wins.
Runner-Up: CAPTAIN WIN got away well from barrier five and went forward under Zac Purton to settle just off the pace and one off the rail in the early going. He travelled well throughout the middle stages as Purton remained one off the rail around the turn, pocketed for a run as they turned into the home straight. There was contact in front of him which hampered Purton badly, forcing him to check off heels and resulting in the gelding losing all his momentum. Purton was able to push his way into the clear shortly afterward though with the gelding running on for second, but it’s a case of ‘what could have been’ for the four-year-old.
Run Of The Race: SIGHT SPIRIT is an impressive galloper who made it three wins in-a-row after dominating his competitors. He continues to raise the bar, and despite having plenty of luck on his side today, he made the most of it. Joao Moreira did a brilliant job to get him onto the rail from barrier 11 and that’s all she wrote. A great win.
Disappointment: SOULMATE jumped on the fourth line of betting at $14 and was never able to get into the event after rearing at the start and having to settle at the back of the field. He was able to tack onto the back of the field, but couldn’t finish off the race and ended up back in 11th position, 7-3/4 lengths off the winner.
Comparison: Just outside standard.
Market Mover: CAPTAIN WIN and SIGHT SPIRIT were both very well backed, with money also coming for LOOKING GREAT at double figure odds.

Race 9 – Chak On Handicap, HK $2,400,000
Class 2 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:08.34 Standard Time: 1:08.55 Course/Class record: 1:07.89 Thanks Forever
Winner: CALIFORNIA SPANGLE (IRE 4yo g Starspangledbanner – Pearlitas Passion) bounced well and went straight to the front under Zac Purton, crossing to the rail to hold about a length advantage as they turned off the back. He was travelling a touch keenly around the corner, but he still had plenty in the tank as they swung into the straight, with Purton sitting motionless. Purton pushed the button and he quickly put up a length, then two, then three as he sprinted away from the opposition, with Purton easing him down over the final 75m. The final margin was 1-1/2 lengths, but he could have easily won by 3 or more lengths if he was punched out to the line.
Runner-Up: TRILLION WIN was only away fairly, and settled back of midfield under Alex Badel, but he was able to improve along the rail as they turned off the back. Badel remained on the rail as they turned into the straight and he quickened well despite not having much room to move, with Badel finally edging him out with 200m to run. He ran on well over the final 200m to run into second position, getting the nod in photo finish.
Run Of The Race: CALIFORNIA SPANGLE was simply dominant in winning, toying with his opposition and showing his class to win comfortably. What’s next for the gelding is up in the air with the 4YO Classic Mile in a fortnights time and the 1600m trip and unknown for the son of Starspangledbanner. But wherever he does end up, he’s sure to prove hard to beat.
Disappointment: There was some specking, although not noticeable for CALIFORNIA RAD who looked to be travelling well into the straight after racing wide with cover throughout. Matthew Chadwick pulled him out four-wide as they turned for home, but the gelding didn’t quite pick up as expected at the top of the straight. He was fairly one-paced before weakening over the final 200m, finishing in 11th position and beaten 7 lengths.
Comparison: Inside the standard time.
Market Mover: The money kept coming for CALIFORNIA SPANGLE who jumped a $1.30 favourite but IGNITING and METRO WARRIOR were also specked.

Race 10 – Hoi Lai Handicap, HK $1,570,000
Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1400m - Track Good
Time: 1:21.39 Standard Time: 1:21.45 Course/Class record: 1:20.62 Preciousship
Winner: ROMANTIC WARRIOR (IRE 4yo g Acclamation – Folk Melody) jumped on terms and settled just off the pace and along the rail with the speed being very good in the opening stages of the race. He got into a good rhythm early on and was travelling nicely as the field stretched out around the turn as Moreira just started to ask the gelding to quicken with 600m remaining, cutting back the margin to be only a couple lengths off the lead as they turned for the finish. Moreira was able to shift off heels and into the clear easily with 350m to run and he took the lead with 200m to run. There was a moment where his main rival looked as though he may challenge, but that was short lived as the four-year-old was far too superior over the concluding stages to win by 1-1/4 lengths.
Runner-Up: LUCKY WITH YOU bounced well and went forward under Karis Teetan to sit just behind the leading division as the field with the good pace on offer in the early stages. Teetan had the gelding travelling well around the turn and seemed to be travelling better than the eventual winner who was positioned to his inside. Teetan came wide as they straightened for the finish and he began working through his gears to challenge for the lead with 200m to go, but he was no match over the final stages, settling for second place with third another 1-3/4 lengths behind.
Run Of The Race: ROMANTIC WARRIOR looks set to give the 4YO Classic Mile a big shake in a fortnight’s time, keeping his unbeaten record in tact against some of his toughest opposition to date. Moreira summed up the situation perfectly and made the move when he needed to on the turn. He’s a smart galloper who looks as though he’ll come up against the best in two weeks.
Disappointment: There was plenty of support for last-start winner ALL BEAUTY, but he just found himself too far back in the field to ever be a winning threat. He ran home well to finish sixth, but today was disappointing.
Comparison: Inside the standard time.
Market Mover: ROMANTIC WARRIOR was backed into $1.90 favouritism, with money also coming for ALL BEAUTY.

Romantic Warrior and Joao Moreira, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club