The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the Chinese New Year meeting at Sha Tin on Monday, February 12th, 2024
Race 1 – Kung Hei Handicap, HK $875,000
Class 5 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:10.06 Standard Time: 1:09.75 Course/Class record: 1:08.64 Iron King
The apprentice Angus Chung started the Chinese New Year meeting with a bang, leading all the way aboard HAPPY TANGO (AUS 8yo g Eavesdropper – Red Dawn). The eight-year-old showed good early pace to get across from barrier 11 and get down to the inside rail approaching the first turn. Chung was able to catch his breath out in front with no real pressure being applied through the middle stages, before kicking strongly as they turned for home. He put up a two-length margin midway down the straight and had a wall of rivals chasing him over the final 100m. He was far too strong in the closing stages though, keeping his rivals at bay and making every post a winner, scoring by a length. GREAT DAYS initially held out Happy Tango in the early stages before Karis Teetan eased to sit on the back of the leader heading off the back. After enjoying a cosy run in transit, Teetan felt for his mount turning for home but he didn’t have the sprint to match. He continued to fight under the urgings of the Mauritian, running through to claim second position with 50m to run and taking ground off the winner late. Race favourite RATTAN GLORY was closing off strongly at the finish, coming down the middle of the track to finish in third place under Zac Purton.
Race 2 – Fat Choi Handicap, HK $875,000
Class 5 – Turf - Distance 1400m - Track Good
Time: 1:22.51 Standard Time: 1:22.35 Course/Class record: 1:21.53 Exponents
Matthew Chadwick was the next to strike, getting up late in the race with TSUEN WAN GLORY (NZ 6yo g Smart Missile – Anne Of Cleves). The Manfred Man-trained gelding jumped well and positioned himself just off the speed under Chadwick, who crossed down to the inside. The local hoop tracked the leader through the middle stages, stalking the pace and waiting for his time to come with a good pace being set. He continued to track the leader into the straight and was racing in restricted room with 400m to run. Chadwick had to go out and around his two rivals but came with a withering burst inside the final 50m to take the lead and win rather comfortably in the end, with the official margin being a neck. AFFIRM had worked across from a wide barrier to settle on the outside of the leader on settling down. The gelding was under heavy pressure turning for home but did find under Andrea Atzeni and held eventual winner Tsuen Wan Glory in a pocket midway down the straight. Atzeni and Affirm took the lead inside the final furlong was still a half-length in front with 50m to run, but they couldn’t hold off the winner who was finishing too strongly. SMART BEAUTY was second last in the run and came from a long way back to sneak into the placings. Angus Chung pinched runs along the inside, only going around a handful of rivals to get into the finish.
Race 3 – Good Fortune Handicap, HK $1,170,000
Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:09.89 Standard Time: 1:09.40 Course/Class record: 1:08.40 Master Eight
PARTERRE (SAF 7yo g Flower Alley – Square Dance) not only ended a run of 70 winless rides for Lyle Hewitson, but it also bought up his 100th winner in Hong Kong. After being one of the first out of the barriers, Hewitson pressed on to take up the running, leading comfortably turning off the back straight. He wasn’t taken on out in front and was able to do as he pleased. Turning for home, it looked as though he was going backwards and was headed midway down the straight as the first two cleared out from the rest of the pack. He wouldn’t lay down in the straight, rallying back inside the final 150m to regain the lead and pull away over the closing stages, scoring by a length on the line. PATCH OF THETA ran into second position from a long way back. Keagan De Melo sat in the second half of the field and was four-wide at one stage turning off the back. As things worked themselves out, he rounded the home turn three-wide with cover and was one of the widest runners on straightening. He motored home to finish in second, especially over the closing stages, going from being 5 lengths away at the top of the straight to being a length away on the line. SPICY GOLD may have just lacked a bit of condition after a month between runs. After stalking the leader in the run, he moved up to stick his head in front early in the straight. He peaked on the run with around 100m to run though and couldn’t keep up, falling back to third.
Race 4 – Good Fortune Handicap, HK $1,170,000
Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:09.71 Standard Time: 1:09.40 Course/Class record: 1:08.40 Master Eight
After a delayed start to his career, WINDCHEATER (AUS 3yo g Toronado – Sheen) notched up his maiden win on debut. The gelding was unable to be bridled when engaged to race the first time and was scratched by the stewards. There were no such issues today as he jumped well under Luke Ferraris and put himself right on the speed. As they sorted their order out, Ferraris ended up on the back of the leader, stalking the leading trio through the middle stages. The three-year-old needed a touch of luck at the top of the straight as Ferraris tried to get away from the inside, eventually getting a gap with 200m to run. He shot through the gap, sticking his nose in front with 100m to run and pulled away for a fantastic 1-1/4 length victory. MUST GO was able to get across from a sticky alley under Purton, settling just off the speed early on. He crept closer around the turn, eventually sitting on the outside of Windcheater through the middle stages, with Purton pushing into the clear at the top of the straight. He was a length in front of Windcheater midway down the straight as Ferraris was looking for an opening, but the John Size-trained gelding was unable to match it with the winner once he got clear air. He stuck on well to hold on for second, narrowly edging out the fast-finishing STAR CLUB. He rattled home from well back in the run and was definitely the eye-catcher of the race, finishing third.
Race 5 – Great Profits Handicap, HK $1,170,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1600m - Track Good
Time: 1:35.44 Standard Time: 1:35.00 Course/Class record: 1:33.78 Morethanlucky
Karis Teetan and Ricky Yiu scored their first wins of the afternoon with as WINNING DATA (AUS 4yo g Capitalist – Solar Burst) bringing up his third win of the season. After jumping well from an outside barrier, he rolled across to sit on the outside of the leader and did so relatively easily. The tempo was good through the middle stages and Teetan sat about a length off the leader, using him as a bunny to chase around the home turn. He peeled off the leader’s back and ambled right past him, with Teetan only pushing the button 200m from home. He shot about three lengths clear midway down the straight and the race was over. There were a couple making ground late in the race, but he’d built a big enough gap to hold them to the line, scoring by a length. DEVAS TWELVE slotted in about midfield after the start as Matthew Chadwick was able to get into the running line from barrier 8. He travelled comfortably between runners throughout the event with the local hoop sticking closer to the inside at the top of the straight. A big gap appeared shortly after straightening and the gelding quickened well, closing strongly in the run to the line but he was unable to reel in the leader who had a big break on him. STRONGEST BOY was near the tail of the field, racing three-wide with cover throughout for Purton who peeled him into the clear at the top of the straight. He ran on well down the outside and was a clear second with 100m to run, but he looked to peak on his effort late in the race. He clung on for third with Devas Twelve getting the nod in a photo finish.
Race 6 – Lucky Star Handicap, HK $1,170,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1400m - Track Good
Time: 1:22.85 Standard Time: 1:22.10 Course/Class record: 1:20.80 Perfect Pair
It was another all the way winner in race six with VOYAGE SAMURAI (AUS 4yo g Dissident – Love Commands) getting the job done on debut. Derek Leung took the newcomer straight to the front after he jumped well, crossing quite easily to take up the running early on. The pace appeared easy through the middle stages with the field bunched with 600m to run. The gelding had plenty of rivals coming at him turning for home with five across the track trying to gain the upper hand. He travelled well into the straight and showed plenty of fight to fend off his rivals and kick away from his nearest dangers. He was too strong in the final stages, holding off his nearest rivals and scoring a debut victory by a neck. SMILING COLLECTOR settled about midfield for Luke Ferraris and moved into the three-wide trail passing the 600m point. The South African hoop had the gelding under pressure turning into the straight and just continued to find under the riding of Ferraris. He ground away out wider, making good inroads over the final 100m to run the leader to a neck, but he couldn’t quite catch him. VOLCANIC SPARK was a long way back in the race and looked to be slightly held up as they turned for home. Matthew Poon got him to the outside and he ran on very well down the middle of the track, closing off well to claim third.
Race 7 – Prosperity Handicap, HK $1,860,000
Class 3 – Turf – Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:08.95 Standard Time: 1:09.05 Course/Class record: 1:08.11 Victor The Winner
After going down narrowly at his last couple of outings, KA YING RISING (NZ 3yo g Shamexpress – Missy Moo) returned to the winner’s stall. The progressive youngster jumped well and rolled forward to be just off the pace which was quite strong early doors. He did a bit wrong turning off the back but was able to work into the race with cover around the home turn before switching into the clear at the top of the straight. Purton waited until the furlong pole before asking the $1.30 for an effort and he took the lead shortly after. Once he had his nose in front, they couldn’t get back past him, winning by a neck on the line. LADY’S CHOICE pressed on to lead the field from barrier 11 and held out his rivals when taken on through the middle stages. He was passed early in the straight but showed good dash and fight to rally back along the inside. He was unable to get back past the leader who was out wider, but he didn’t allow Ka Ying Rising to get away from him either, going under by a neck in a gutsy performance. EIGHTY LIGHT YEARS quickened well at the top of the straight and ran to the lead under Jerry Chau. The gelding was unable to sustain the run to the line though, being overtaken by the winner and Lady’s Choice close to home, with the first three across the line clear from the rest of the pack.
Race 8 – The Chinese New Year Cup (Handicap), HK $3,720,000
Class 1 – Turf – Distance 1400m - Track Good
Time: 1:21.42 Standard Time: 1:21.25 Course/Class record: 1:19.92 Encouraging
There was a minor upset in the feature of the day with second favourite RED LION (IRE 5yo g Belardo – Crystal Idea) proving too good. The speed was quick early, with Purton settling just off the leaders as they headed off the back. The small field were relatively strung out through the middle stages as Purton worked off the inside and into the clear at the top of the straight. The five-year-old ran to the lead shortly after straightening and was quickly taken on with a furlong left to run. The first two set down to fight it out, with Red Lion showing the qualities of his name, fighting right to the wire and holding out his more fancied opponent to score by a neck on the line. MUGEN jumped the $1.20 favourite and took up a position toward the tail of the small field. He tracked into the race nicely around the turn and Teetan gave him every chance at the top of the straight. He quickened well to run up and join the leader with 200m to run as he and Red Lion fought all the way to the line. Mugen was unable to stick his nose in front at any point in the straight though, settling for second with a huge 8-1/2 length gap back to DUKE WAI.
Race 9 – Red Packet Handicap, HK $2,050,000
Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1600m - Track Good
Time: 1:34.59 Standard Time: 1:34.75 Course/Class record: 1:33.19 Beauty Fit
Brenton Avdulla got back onto the winner’s list for the first time since January 24th, lifting CALIFORNIA VOCE (IRE 4yo g Bated Breath – Caption) to his maiden victory in Hong Kong. The four-year-old got away on terms but Avdulla snicked the gelding back to race near the tail of the field from barrier 10. The pace was good throughout as California Voce raced between runners at the back of the field, needed plenty of luck passing the 600m point if he was going to feature. The field fanned across the track and there was plenty of Space for Avdulla to work through along the inside. He went under the majority of his rivals, appearing into the clear with 200m to run and showing plenty of dash. He took the lead with around 100m to run and was far too strong late, getting away from his nearest rivals to win by 1-1/4 lengths on the line. SWEET ENCOUNTER jumped the equal favourite from his wide stall and was able to slot into the running line near the tail of the field. Zac Purton moved three-wide around the turn and had a nice cart into the race but was forced very wide on straightening. He made a strong run down the outside to range up to the leaders, before California Voce shot through to take control. He peaked on the run and couldn’t reel in the winner late, settling for second position. MASTER OF FORTUNE enjoyed the run of the race in the one-out-one-back position and took the lead passing the 300m point. He stuck on well of the final stages to finish in third with a wall of runners right there with him.
Race 10 – Yue Yee Handicap, HK $2,840,000
Class 2 – Turf – Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:08.97 Standard Time: 1:08.80 Course/Class record: 1:07.89 Thanks Forever
The Hong Kong Classic Mile form got an unusual push just one week after the 2024 renewal, with HOWDEEPISYOURLOVE (AUS 4yo g Deep Field – My Shabella) dropping back to the sprint trip and proving too good. As usual, the gelding settled in the back half of the field from barrier six with Brenton Avdulla doing the steering. The Australian managed to get to the inside rail in the run and was well back on straightening, but much like the previous race, Avdulla was able to pinch runs along the inside as the field fanned across the track. The Australian jockey managed to weave his way through traffic, squeezing through a gap to take the lead with 50m to run and wasn’t stopping close to the line, putting a length on his nearest rivals to bring up a race-to-race double for Avdulla. The red-hot favourite GALAXY PATCH looked to have his chance for Karis Teetan but was forced to settle for second. The gelding settled in the back of the field, oddly enough in line with eventual winner Howdeepisyourlove. He raced three-wide throughout and looked ot be travelling sweetly into the straight where Teetan got to work. He was lugging in a bit under pressure but was still coming on strongly before the winner burst through along the inside to take the victory inside the final 50m. BUNDLE OF CHARM turned in a super effort rising up in grade. He sat wide and without cover throughout and clung on for third behind two handy gallopers.
Race 11 – Kut Cheong Handicap, HK $1,860,000
Class 3 – Turf – Distance 1400m – Track Good
Time: 1:22.11 Standard Time: 1:21.80 Course/Class record: 1:20.62 Preciousship
There was a blowout in the last as Antoine Hamelin and Jamie Richards joined forces, scoring a maiden victory for GIDDY UP (AUS 4yo g Fiorente – Socarada). The gelding settled in the second half of the field under Hamelin as he slotted into the running line with a good pace on offer. He travelled well throughout, enjoying a lovely run in transit and was building nicely at the top of the straight, he just needed some clear air. Passing the 300m point, the Frenchman shifted out and got that clear air and although it took him a few strides to wind up, he was coming strongly. He got to the leaders with 100m to run and stuck his head in front with 50m remaining before drawing away to score by a half-length in an eye-catching effort. SUPER KID also rattled home down the outside for second place. He was back there behind Giddy Up in running and was doing his best work over the final 200m, running into second position and edging out the topweight BLUE MARLIN who hit the front with a furlong to run but just couldn’t see off the swoopers in the dying stages.
The Davis Files - Sha Tin review
The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the Chinese New Year meeting at Sha Tin on Monday, February 12th, 2024