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Tomodachi Kokoroe rises for Happy Valley challenge

Tomodachi Kokoroe is aiming to crown a superb season when he steps up in distance to contest the HK$3.12 million Class 2 Sun Jewellery Handicap (1650m) on Wednesday night (10 July) at the season’s final Happy Valley fixture. 

Untested beyond 1400m, Tomodachi Kokoroe has won four times over 1200m in Hong Kong for trainer David Hayes. The Written Tycoon gelding was a six-time winner in Australia pre-import, scoring over 875m, 950m (twice), 1200m, 1250m and 1400m. 

“We’re trying the mile. He’s had a marvellous season. I think the tempo of a mile in this class, like over the 1400 metres, is probably better suited to him than sprints,” Hayes said.

Tomodachi Kokoroe attempted to make all last start at odds of 67/1 in Class 2 over seven furlongs at Sha Tin. The five-year-old was caught late by a short-head.

“I thought he’d won, really, we just got beaten on the post. It was very, very good. It’s hard to think he can go much better than he’s gone but he has proven that he can compete off his current rating (94),” Hayes said. 

Tomodachi Kokoroe has drawn on Wednesday evening; picture hkjc.com

A Class 1 winner at Happy Valley, Tomodachi Kokoroe steps away from gate four with jockey Zac Purton tomorrow night, assigned 134lb, against Helene Feeling (135lb), Outgate (131lb), Adefill (129lb), Chill Chibi (126lb), Yellowfin (126lb), Berlin Tango (125lb), Turin Mascot (117lb), Woodfire Bro (117lb) and Universal Horizon (116lb).

Hayes has 47 wins this term and is looking forward to next season.

“I think it’s gone pretty good. I’ve had around 48 horses for most of the season, it’s built up with the horses I am planning to run next season. I might get to 50 winners this week if I can have a couple of winners, so it’s been pretty good. 

“I’ve got some nice horses coming through and a potential top-line sprinter [Ka Ying Rising]. I also have a lot of horses who are well rated for next season, so I have more horses and I have some well rated ones,” Hayes said. 

While Hayes nears the end of his 14th season in Hong Kong (across two stints), Mark Newnham is currently closing out a stellar debut campaign which has returned 31 wins from 331 runners.

“I had a target in my mind of 30 wins and we got there with a couple of meetings to spare. I think it’s gone as I hoped and as I planned. I thought it would be a good second half and it has been,” Newnham said. 

Newnham was a long-time assistant to Gai Waterhouse in Sydney, Australia, before going out on his own to net over 400 wins Down Under, including a handful at Group 1 level.

“We still have a lot of untried horses in the stable. There are around 20 horses in the stable who haven’t raced in Hong Kong. I’m planning to improve and I hope the horses follow the plan. I think we’ve set ourselves up to have a good next season — we have some depth and some untried stock,” Newnham said.

Newnham saddles three runners at Happy Valley, led by Youthful Spirits, who chases consecutive wins in the Class 3 Lucky Patch Handicap (1000m) under Purton.

“He’s in really good order. I gave him a gallop myself on Thursday [4 July] on the grass and he was really sharp. You have to use his speed and Zac did that the other day, so it was great,” Newnham said. 

The Shamus Award gelding has drawn barrier one tomorrow night.

“He went fast all of the way and he ran them into the ground. His asset is his speed and that’s how you have to ride him.

“He might step up to 1200 metres in the future but he’ll need to learn to use himself a little bit better throughout the early part. At the moment, while there is a 1000 metre race on that’s his target,” Newnham said. 

Meanwhile, Pierre Ng and Francis Lui continue their trainers’ championship tussle with Ng leading by one win (67-66). Lui has entered nine runners to Ng’s eight at the Valley.

Danny Shum leads the unofficial Happy Valley trainers’ championship by one win ahead of Caspar Fownes (32-31). Fownes, Hong Kong’s most successful trainer at the inner-city course, has seven chances to catch Shum. 

Wednesday’s (10 July) nine-race fixture at Happy Valley commences at 6.35pm with the Class 5 Silver Grecian Handicap (1000m).

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