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The Davis Files - Sha Tin review

The Davis Files - the comprehensive review of the meeting at Sha Tin on Saturday, June 8th, 2024

Race 1 – Butterfly Bay Handicap, HK $875,000

Class 5 – Turf - Distance 1400m – Track Good
Time: 1:22.16 Standard Time: 1:22.35 Course/Class record: 1:21.53 Exponents

It took 20 starts for NOBLE WIN (AUS 5yo g Deep Field – Doctrine) to shed the maiden tag, but today was his day under Antoine Hamelin. The gelding was one of the slowest into stride and ended up at the tail of the field in the early stages of the race. As they continued to travel down the back, Hamelin moved into a three-wide position and began to improve his position passing the 800m point, taking closer order around the turn. The Frenchman had a back to follow as they swung into the home straight, with the gelding making his run down the centre of the track. After being 3-1/2 lengths off the leader at the top of the straight, Noble Win made a strong run down the outside to join the leader with 100m left to run, with the 19-start maiden proving too strong in the closing stages, taking the lead and notching up his first victory by a neck. MY INTELLIGENT raced in a handy position just off the speed under Zac Purton after slotting into the running line from a tricky draw out wide. After enjoying a lovely run throughout, Purton began to pick his way through the traffic, with the gelding appearing to have plenty to offer as the Australian hoop still had a strong grip entering the straight. He responded strongly when Purton pressed the button, sprinting quickly and taking the lead with a furlong remaining. He had his chance to win if he was good enough, but he was collared inside the final 100m and was forced to settle for second. HEARTY WISH was back in third position. He worked into the race nicely as they swung into the straight and while he was weaving through traffic in the run to the line, he just found a couple better on the day.

Race 2 – Chai Wan Road Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1000m – Track Good
Time: 56.62 Standard Time: 56.45 Course/Class record: 54.94 United We Stand

FAST NETWORK (NZ 3yo g Wrote – Alberta) was a very impressive debut winner for the Dennis Yip barn, justifying his quote and winning quite easily in the end. The gelding was urged along by Zac Purton out of the barriers to find a position, settling in a stalking position with the leaders going along strongly out in front early doors. Passing the 400m point, Fast Network was spotting the leaders 2-3/4 lengths and was being asked for an effort by Purton and that’s when the class began to shine through. The gelding moved up to hit the front inside the final 150m and was just far too good on debut, scooting away to win by 1-1/2 lengths in an impressive effort. GRAND NOVA ended up near the tail of the field for Hugh Bowman who was tucked in behind runners through the opening stages of the race. The gelding was under pressure a long way from home, with Bowman shifting towards the middle of the track to continue his run. Grand Nova stormed down the middle of the track, making a long and sustained run to grab second position right on the line. TALENTS SUPREMO was also making his run down the middle of the track alongside Grand Nova, with both horses shitting the line close together. Talents Supremo managed to snap up third position, with the judge giving him the nod in a photo finish.

Race 3 – Tuen Mun Public Riding School Handicap, HK $1,860,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1000m – Track Good
Time: 56.67 Standard Time: 56.25 Course/Class record: 54.89 Voyage Warrior

KA YING VICTORY (NZ 3yo g Charm Spirit – Rockadubai) has relished the drop back to 1000m, as he brought up back-to-back victories in the third race of the day. The three-year-old was only fairly away, but he mustered good speed under Alex Badel to settle on the speed. He travelled comfortably throughout the event and quickened well when asked for an effort, with the two leaders getting away from the chasing pack. Badel was still about a length away with a furlong to run, but the gelding was responding strongly to the Frenchman’s urgings as he began to eat into the margin approaching the 100m point. The son of Charm Spirit took the lead inside the final 50m and inched clear to win by a neck on the line. BABY CRYSTAL showed good early speed to take up the running from and outside alley and was left alone out in front. When the pressure came, the gelding quickened well under Ellis Wong and opened up a bit of breathing room on Ka Ying Victory midway down the straight. The gelding began to weaken though close to home, with the strength of the winner proving too much in the dying stages, as Baby Crystal finished behind Ka Ying Victory for the second-straight race. FLYING HIGH was well back in the run but flashed home impressively to run third. Matthew Chadwick was able to sustain his run along the outside rail as the gelding showed plenty of strength to finish in third.

Race 4 – Pok Fu Lam Public Riding School Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:08.70 Standard Time: 1:09.40 Course/Class record: 1:08.40 Master Eight

THE WINNABE (AUS 3yo g Caravaggio – Maewyn) backed up an impressive debut win with another solid performance, lugging a big weight to make it two wins from 2 starts. The three-year-old was away on terms and settled in a midfield position under Hugh Bowman in the early stages. The gelding travelled comfortably in the run, sitting three pairs back and along the inside rail, though Bowman was in need of some luck turning into the straight with plenty of traffic ahead of him. Bowman was able to shove his way into the clear approaching the 200m point, still spotting the leader a couple of lengths with a furlong to go. The $1.20 favourite chased hard once he got into the clear and was his strongest over the final 150m, taking the lead with 50m to run and pulling away to win comfortably by three-quarters of-a-length. VANTASTIC CHOICE burned across from a wide draw to take up the running under Matthew Poon. The local hoop was able to do as he pleased out in front, slowing the tempo as they turned off the back, before ramping it back up with 600m to run. The gelding kicked clear at the top of the straight while still under a hold from Poon, with the gap being about two lengths at the furlong pole. He put on a good fight and made The Winnabe dig deep for the win, but the gelding just bumped into a smart up-and-coming horse on the way through. SCOTCH TYCOON had settled on the back of the leader in running and he stuck on well in the run to the line, but he was a way off the first two as he finished 3-1/4 lengths off the winner.

Race 5 – Lei Yue Mun Riding School Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1400m – Track Good
Time: 1:22.43 Standard Time: 1:22.10 Course/Class record: 1:20.80 Perfect Pair

Hugh Bowman made it a race-to-race double as ENJOY GOLF (AUS 3yo g Pariah – Fire Gully) made every post a winner. Bowman went straight to the front after jumping brilliantly from a middle draw and the Australian hoop was able to do as he pleased out in front with no real pressure being applied. He kept the tempo moderate until around the 600m point, where the speed went up a notch and horses behind Enjoy Golf were left standing flat footed. Turning into the straight, it was almost arrogant by Bowman the way he was riding the three-year-old, sitting motionless aboard the gelding until the 200m point where he finally asked for an effort. When the squeeze came, Enjoy Golf responded impressively and extended his margin. He never looked like being beat in the straight, as he scored his first victory by two lengths. MASTER OF ALL was going for a hat-trick of wins ad looked to be in a handy spot on the back of the leader throughout the event. Under Keith Yeung, the gelding was just unable to match the sprint shown by the winner, who left Yeung in his wake at the top of the straight. Master Of All rallied strongly in the straight though, fighting hard and running into second position right on the post, getting the nod in a photo finish. He and RUN RUN TIMING had been inseparable in the race, sitting beside each other behind the leader. Run Run Timing had gotten in front of Master Of All in the straight, but at the line he was just edged out for second.

Race 6 – The Hong Kong Riding For The Disabled Association Cup (Handicap), HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:09.37 Standard Time: 1:09.40 Course/Class record: 1:08.40 Master Eight

It was another all-the-way victory in race six as LO PAN SPIRIT (NZ 3yo g Charm Spirit – Potions) couldn’t be caught. From barrier six, Lo Pan Spirit rolled to the front under Harry Bentley and ran some quick sectionals through the first half of the event. Approaching the home turn, a few rivals were already beginning to feel the pinch as he broke clear to lead by 1-1/4 lengths as they entered the straight. It looked as though Lo Pan Spirit was going to be challenged midway down the straight, but the leader found another gear inside the final furlong and got further in front, sustaining his speed right to the line and scoring by an impressive 3-1/4 lengths. GLUCK RACER had settled midfield and along the inside after jumping well from an inside barrier. Karis Teetan had the gelding travelling comfortably in the run, but it looked as though it was an uphill battle as they swung for home with Gluck Racer needing some luck at the top of the straight. Lo Pan Spirit was just a class above on the night, but Teetan and Gluck Racer kept on well to the line, sticking on strongly to run second. SUPER INFINITY ran on strongly down the middle of the track after settling well back for Zac Purton. The gelding jumped the race favourite but could only manage third, getting the nod in a photo finish.

Race 7 – Lung Mun Road Handicap, HK $2,840,000

Class 2 – Turf - Distance 1200m – Track Good
Time: 1:08.27 Standard Time: 1:08.80 Course/Class record: 1:07.89 Thanks Forever

Zac Purton brought up a winning double with the progressive COPARTNER PRANCE (AUS 4yo Epaulette – Woodstock Hussey) scored his fifth win in-a-row. The four-year-old jumped quickly and was able to cross early in the race, settling behind the leading pair who showed a clean pair of heels early doors. Purton sat a couple of lengths off the leading pair, staying away from the rail through the middle stages with a genuine tempo set through the middle stages of the race. The Australian hoop gave his mount every chance as they swung into the straight, popping three-wide entering the stretch with Purton nursing the gelding along as the leaders came back to the chasing pack. Purton waited until the 300m marker before asking for an effort and the gelding responded strongly, quickening to take the lead with 200m remaining in what ended up being a ding-dong battle to the line. The gelding showed plenty of heart to keep his rivals at bay right to the post, scoring by a head on the line to add to the picket fence. DUKE WAI burrowed through along the inside of Copartner Prance turning off the back to settle alongside the eventual winner in running. As Copartner Prance moved wide, it allowed Duke Wait to get off the back of the leaders and into the clear as well with Karis Teetan popping the question of the veteran galloper. He stuck his nose in front just as Purton got to work on Copartner Prance, with the two gallopers going hammer-and-tongs right to the wire. Duke Wai was just edged out close to home, but he lost no admirers in the effort. GORGEOUS WIN jumped the race favourite and had tracked Copartner Prance throughout the event. He had his chance to win if he was good enough, but he peaked on the run late in the race and ended up a length off the winner in third.

Race 8 – The Pola Cup (Handicap), HK $2,050,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1800m – Track Good
Time: 1:47.35 Standard Time: 1:47.60 Course/Class record: 1:46.18 Glorious Forever:

Newcomer to Hong Kong STUNNING PEACH (IRE 3yo c Wootton Bassett – A Mist Opportunity) relished stepping out in trip for the first time in the Asian city, bringing up a winning treble for Zac Purton. The Australian hoop was neutral from the barrier, landing in a midfield position, sitting one off the rail as they sorted their order out. The pace was genuine through the opening and middle stages which saw the field string out down the back straight. This meant Purton was spotting the leader 7-1/4 lengths as they turned off the back, but the anchor was thrown down the side of the course as the field bunched approaching the home turn. Purton moved Stunning Peach into the clear with plenty of time to spare and the gelding moved into the race ominously, lengthening well down the middle of the track to move up and hit the front with a furlong to run. He was just too good over the closing stages with a couple of rivals having a final crack at the winner, but he packed too many punches as he scored by a half-length. UNIVERSAL HORIZON wasn’t the fastest into stride but was able to improve sharply early in the race, settling in a midfield position and along the inside as they settled into stride. After a nice run in transit, Vincent Ho had the red sea part in front of him with gaps appearing in front of him as he improved into the race strongly. He was overtaken by Stunning Peach with around 200m to run as he shifted toward the middle of the track, but the gelding didn’t go down without a fight as he made a late charge at the winner. He got back to within a half-length on the line in a handy effort. SAMARKAND had the run of the race on the leader’s back throughout and Karis Teetan persisted with an inside run which came early in the straight. He was there to strike if good enough, but there were just a couple others that were better on the day.

Race 9 – Pok Lu Fam Country Park Handicap, HK $1,170,000

Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1600m – Track Good
Time: 1:35.00 Standard Time: 1:35.00 Course/Class record: 1:33.78 Morethanlucky

ARIEL (IRE 6yo g Exceed And Excel – Garra Molloy) finally scored his maiden victory at start number 26 in what was a very weird race early on. Ariel was caught in a four-way battle for the early lead, with Ellis Wong holding his position along the inside rail as they turned off the back. The speed wasn’t overly strong early on, but the turn off the back allowed Wong to hold the advantage around the turn, and that’s where the real race began. The apprentice hoop got away from the chasing pack as they approached the final corner breaking 3 lengths clear at the top of the straight in what would ultimately prove a winning decision. The gelding was getting tired close to home with a few rivals coming at him late, but it was too little too late for them as Ariel held on to win by a neck on the line in a very impressive performance from both horse and jockey. LUCKY TOUCH drifted back early under Zac Purton to settle near the tail of the field early in the race. The Australian hoop was already trying to pick his way through the traffic approaching the home turn, and that continued into the straight with the gelding only seeing daylight as they approached the 300m point. He was a long way off the leader once he finally got clear, but to the horse’s credit, he didn’t go down without a fight. He chased strongly all the way to the line, getting to within a neck of the winner, but it was too little, too late. A further two lengths behind was SPECIAL HEDGE who moved into the straight strongly and quickly ran into second position. He too was tiring close to the line, but he had enough gas in the tank to hold on for third.

Race 10 – Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Road Handicap, HK $1,860,000

Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1400m – Track Good
Time: 1:21.53 Standard Time: 1:21.80 Course/Class record: 1:20.62 Preciousship

It was a sharp turnaround in the form of BEAUTY GLORY (GB 6yo g Toronado – Gregoria), winning the final event on the night after a 9-1/4 length defeat last time out. Angus Chung took matters into his own hands this time though, jumping straight to the front aboard the six-year-old and setting a genuine tempo. The gelding broke clear of the chasing pack passing the 800m point and was leading well out on his own with 600m to run. The margins lessened as they came to the home turn though, with Chung only holding a 1-1/4 length advantage at the top of the straight, but the son of Toronado still looked to have plenty to offer. The gelding kept responding to the urgings of Chung right down to the wire and while he had a couple of rivals coming at him late, it wasn’t enough as he made every post a winner. LESLIE was snagged back to last by Karis Teetan, and he ended up being a long last at that too early in the event. Teetan finally tacked onto the back of the field with around 600m remaining, with the Mauritian remaining close to the inside as they entered the straight. The field fanned across the track which worked perfectly for Leslie, as Teetan only had to go around one tiring runner to continue his charge toward the front. He made a late charge right up along the inside, getting to within a neck of the winner. It was a brilliant effort from what looked like a near impossible position 600m from the finish. CHIU CHOW SPIRIT also came with a strong run late in the race, storming down the middle of the track to continue his solid run of recent form.

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