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The Davis Files - Sha Tin review

The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Sha Tin on Saturday, May 11th, 2024 

Race 1 – Yau Ma Tei Handicap, HK $875,000

Class 5 – Turf – Distance 1400m - Track Good
Time: 1:21.63 Standard Time: 1:22.35 Course/Class record: 1:21.53 Exponents

Keith Yeung and Chris So combined to win the opening event on the card with MASTER OF ALL (AUS 4yo g Charm Spirit – Funoon) who brought up back-to-back wins. The gelding was quickly into stride and Yeung swiftly positioned himself on the outside of the leader. As they worked down the back, a couple of Master Of All’s rivals were keen to press on, with the local hoop easing out of the early speed battle to settle on the back of the leader with 800m remaining. After enjoying a lovely run through the middle stages, the horse on the outside of Master Of All laid out rounding the home turn, allowing Yeung to pop off the inside with ease and come after the leader. The gelding worked through his gears in the straight, moving up to hit the front with a furlong to run and he burst clear of the chasing pack. The race was all over with 100m to run as the four-year-old went on to win by 3-1/2 lengths. GENERAL WINNER was taken back from an outside draw and slotted into a position just worse than midfield. Karis Teetan already had the gelding under plenty of pressure a long way from home, but he was picking up as they turned into the straight. Teetan switched the gelding into the clear at the top of the straight and while he ran well to claim second, he was never a winning threat. PERFECT PEACH tracked the eventual winner into the straight and had his chance if he was good enough. He ground away to the line, finishing in third position after being passed close to the post by General Winner.

Race 2 – Tsim Sha Tsui Handicap, HK $2,050,000

Class 3 – All Weather - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:38.78 Standard Time: 1:38.25 Course/Class record: 1:36.79 True Legend

It was a gutsy all-the-way victory for MASSIVE ACTION (NZ 6yo g Reliable Man – Classical), who turned his form right around on his recent performances. The grey gelding was quickly away from the inside barrier and the six-year-old ran straight to the front under Dylan Mo. He wasn’t taken on out in front once he took the lead, though the gelding was setting a genuine pace through the opening and middle stages. Mo looked to have a strong hold of the gelding around the home turn with all of his rivals off the bit and chasing as they swung for home. He kicked strongly as they turned into the straight, but he was being taken on early in the stretch. It was a ding-dong battle right to the wire, but Massive Action packed enough punches to hold his rival at bay and score his second win of the season by a short head. WOODFIRE BRO got away well from a wide barrier but wasn’t able to slot into the running line and was posted three-wide and without cover throughout the event. Despite the wide run, Derek Leung still looked to be travelling well atop of the gelding as they turned for home and the five-year-old moved up to challenge for the lead shortly after straightening. He was a half-length away at the furlong marker and was chipping away at the margin with every stride, but despite his best efforts he couldn’t reel in the leader. He lost no admirers in the effort, going under by a short head. BERLIN TANGO was last from the outset and rattled home strongly to finish in third position. If there’s an 1800m race on the All Weather soon, he deserves to be at the pointy end of betting. 

Race 3 – Mong Kok Handicap, HK $1,860,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1000m - Track Good to Firm
Time: 55.73 Standard Time: 56.25 Course/Class record: 54.89 Voyage Warrior

It’s taken a while for KA YING VICTORY (NZ 3yo g Charm Spirit – Rockadubai) to get back into the winners stall, but the gelding proved too strong dropping back to the 1000m journey. The gelding got away well from barrier four and worked across to settle in a midfield position. He was racing away from the grandstand rail, but he had cover through the middle stages, before Alexis Badel popped him into the clear and began to urge him along. The gelding wasn’t making any inroads through midway down the straight, but it was inside the final furlong where the gelding really showed his ability. He mowed down the leader inside the final 50m and inched away to score by a half-length. BABY CRYSTAL ran straight to the front under Vincent Ho and led the field up right down the outside rail. Ho still had a strong hold of the gelding passing the 300m point and he was still two lengths in front with 100m remaining in the race. He may have felt the pinch under top weight late in the race, as Ka Ying Victory stormed over the top to snatch victory at the death. PLEASANT ENDEAVOR stuck on strongly after sitting up on the pace throughout, finishing a length away in third.

Race 4 – Hung Hom Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – All Weather - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:39.22 Standard Time: 1:38.80 Course/Class record: 1:37.74 Mission Bravo

It was a blanket finish to the fourth event of the day with the $28 outsider SUN OF MAKFI (NZ 7yo g Makfi – Palos de Lago) ran over the top to score by a nose. The seven-year-old didn’t have much early speed, ending up in the second half of the field after a good piece of riding by Harry Bentley. The pace was good through the middle stages and there was no change to the order as the gelding remained locked up along the inside rail. Turning off the back, Bentley was able to sneak along the inside rail and go underneath plenty of rivals to only be 3-1/3 lengths off the leader on straightening. There was a wall of runners in front of Bentley in the straight, but the Englishman was able to work his way through the traffic to make his run inside the final 100m. He burst through late and got his nose down right on the line to steal the victory in a close four-way finish, winning by a nose. VIVA HUNTER was away well from an inside alley and showed enough speed in the early stages to settle on the back of the leader. Ellis Wong put the gelding to sleep through the middle stages with the gelding tracking the leader ominously around the home turn. The apprentice hoop persisted with a run along the inside rail, eventually squeezing through with 200m to run. It wasn’t until the final 100m where he shot through to take the lead and he looked the winner close to home, before Sun Of Makfi nabbed him on the line. MISSION BRAVO was a long way back in the run but sustained a strong effort from the back to finish in third position. He was only beaten a short head on the line, with just a head separating the first four across the line.

Race 5 – The Kowloon Cricket Club Centenary Cup (Handicap), HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1200m - Track Good to Firm
Time: 1:09.16 Standard Time: 1:09.40 Course/Class record: 1:08.40 Master Eight

Keith Yeung brought up a winning double on the day with AWESOME TREASURE (NZ 6yo g Charm Spirit – Bizz) scoring his first win since December 2021. The gelding showed good speed out of the barriers and held the lead earl in the race. Keith Yeung wanted the front and made his rival work hard if he wanted to cross, but approaching the 800m point, the local hoop took a trailing position just off the leader. The six-year-old travelled strongly through the middle stages and moved up to hit the front as they turned for home. Awesome Treasure quickened strongly when Yeung pressed the button, putting a length on his rivals early in the straight. The odds-on favourite ranged up with 150m left to run, but Awesome Treasure had plenty of gas left in the tank, holding on to win by a half-length on the line and handing Keith Yeung 300 winners in Hong Kong. KING MILES was slowly into stride but was able to pick up shortly after the start, with Hugh Bowman ending up a little worse than midfield in running. His rivals fanned wide on the circuit which gave Bowman plenty of time and space to improve into the race with 500m remaining, with the gelding building into the race nicely at the top of the straight. The gelding had his chance to win if he was good enough, moving up to Awesome Treasure in the lead midway down the straight. The gelding was never able to stick his nose in front though and was safely held to the line. URBAN TRIUMPH enjoyed a nice run just off the speed and he too had his chance to win if he was good enough. He closed off well to finish in third position, just three-quarters of-a-length from the winner.

Race 6 – Jordan Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1200m - Track Good to Firm
Time: 1:09.20 Standard Time: 1:09.40 Course/Class record: 1:08.40 Master Eight

HAYDAY (AUS 4yo g Deep Field – Waitomo Toka) shed the maiden tag with an all-the-way victory under Matthew Poon. The Ricky Yiu-trained gelding jumped straight to the front after getting away quickly from barrier 8 and took up the running immediately. Poon wasn’t pressured out in front and the gelding skipped away as they turned for home, getting a length in front of his nearest rival and extending his lead midway down the straight. He may have been tiring close to the line, but he had enough fuel left in the tank, scoring by a half-length on the line. STEPS AHEAD was a little slow out of the barriers and ended up in the second half of the field, racing along the inside rail as they worked off the back straight. Around the home turn, Hugh Bowman was able to sneak up the inside rail as runners fanned away from the inside. The gelding had plenty of time and space to work into the clear and get through his gears, as the gelding stormed home over the closing stages to miss out on victory by a half-length. LO PAN SPIRIT stuck on bravely after sitting on the speed and was just 1-1/2 lengths off the winner with a big gap back to fourth.

Race 7 – The Hong Kong China Rugby Cup (Handicap), HK $3,120,000

Class 2 – Turf – Distance 1600m - Track Good to Firm
Time: 1:34.14 Standard Time: 1:34.50 Course/Class record: 1:32.96 Not Usual Talent

CHANCHENG GLORY (USA 4yo g Mor Spirit – Solid Scam) returned to winning ways after running in the 4YO Series races. After getting away from a wide alley, Vincent Ho was able to slide into a midfield position, getting onto the back of his main danger in the run. The four-year-old was racing comfortably in a midfield position with the pace solid throughout, with Ho beginning to niggle at the gelding past the 600m point. The local hoop shifted the $3.70 favourite into the clear at the top of the straight and the gelding began to work through his gears. The gelding joined the leader with a furlong to run, before taking control with 150m left to run. He showed plenty of strength over the concluding stages to inch away with every stride, getting the job done by three-quarters of-a-length in comfortable fashion. OUTGATE was quickly away and got across to settle on the outside of the leader from an outside alley. The grey travelled comfortably through the middle stages and he sprinted quickly on straightening to take the lead with 300m remaining. He fought hard when Chancheng Glory loomed up on his outside and didn’t allow the winner to get away too quickly once he was passed. He kept on well for second will have his time in the sun soon. BOURBONAIRE sat on the leader’s back in running and kept on well to the line, holding on for third position in a good return to form.

Race 8 – Ho Man Tin Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4– Turf – Distance 1400m - Track Good to Firm
Time: 1:22.44 Standard Time: 1:22.10 Course/Class record: 1:20.80 Perfect Pair

WINNING GOLD (AUS 3yo g Brazen Beau – Shimada) made it back-to-back wins in impressive fashion, bringing up a winning double for trainer Chris So. After getting away on terms, the gelding landed in a handy position just off the speed, racing between runners. He was cluttered up as they event around the home turn, but was travelling strongly with Keagan De Melo just needing a way clear as they turned for home. De Melo just had to wait for the run to open, eventually shifting off heels and into the middle of the track to make his charge. He sprinted quickly once he was clear, hitting the front with 150m to run and pulled away from his rivals late in the race, scoring by 1-1/4 lengths. YEE CHEONG RAIDER was ridden brilliantly by Ben Thompson early in the race, drifting back from the wide draw before getting to the inside rail and improving his position. The Australian hoop would end up just worse than midfield on settling down, racing along the inside around the home turn. As they swung into the straight, Thompson persisted with an inside run as the rail opened up in front of him. The $189 chance never went around a horse, scraping the paint right up the straight to finish a clear second. YOUNG HORIZON was positioned just off the speed, one pair in front of the eventual winner in the run. Karis Teetan gave his mount every possible chance, but he just found a couple better on the day.

Race 9 – Ho Man Tin Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4– Turf – Distance 1400m - Track Good to Firm
Time: 1:22.01 Standard Time: 1:22.10 Course/Class record: 1:20.80 Perfect Pair

JOLLY RULER (GB 6yo g Helmet – Miramont) scored his first win in over a year as he got the job done as a $36 chance. The speed was good early in the race and Andrea Atzeni found himself wide early in the event. The Sicilian hoop eased out of the speed battle approaching the first turn, landing in a beautiful spot in behind the leading division, eventually ending up in the one-out-one-back position as they sorted their order out. As they turned for home, the gelding was shifted into the clear by Atzeni and he sprinted well to move up and hit the front with 200m remaining. He didn’t exactly pull away from his rivals once he hit the front, more sustaining his effort right to the line where he saluted by a half-length. TOP SCORER was part of that early speed battle as he got away quickly from barrier 12 under Zac Purton. Eventually the champion hoop was able to slide across and settle on the outside of the leader. He moved up to take the lead on straightening but was claimed at the furlong pole by the eventual winner Jolly Ruler who had been on the back of Purton throughout the race. He wouldn’t go away though once overtaken, making the winner work hard to remain in front. He couldn’t peg back the margin though, just holding on for second in a photo finish. SKY TRUST had to weave through traffic on straightening, but once he was clear he stormed home for third, just missing out on second. 

Race 10 – Austin Handicap, HK $1,860,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good to Firm
Time: 1:09.55 Standard Time: 1:09.05 Course/Class record: 1:08.11 Victor The Winner

Brenton Avdulla was able to steal the final race of the day from the front aboard GRACIOUS EXPRESS (IRE 4yo g Churchill – Polly Perkins) who shed the maiden tag. From an outside alley, Avdulla surged froward to get across and settle on the outside of the leader, with the pace only fair through the middle stages. The leaders were able to dictate the race between them, though it did look like Gracious Express was out of gas shortl after straightening. He was left flat footed once the pace went on, but he rallied back strongly in the straight to pick himself up off the canvas and stick his nose in front with 50m to run. He was too strong late in the race, winning by a neck on the line. GOLDEN EMPIRE had gotten away well from barrier seven and rolled straight to the front under Lyle Hewitson. The South African hoop was able to dictate the race once he got to the front, setting a moderate tempo before kicking strongly as the turned for home. He got away from his main rivals early in the straight, but he was unable to fend them off close to home as Gracious Express fought back late in the race. CALIFORNIA DEEPLY closed off strongly out wide on the course to finish in third position with a very eye-catching effort.

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