Race 1 – Ashley Handicap, HK $875,000
Class 5 – All Weather - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:39.95 Standard Time: 1:39.20 Course/Class record: 1:38.30 Apolar Warrior
The in-form Pierre Ng yard got things underway as STARSHIP EIGHTY (AUS 4yo g Into Mischief – Starship Angel) stormed home under Karis Teetan. The gelding got away on terms but didn't show much early pace despite Teetan's best efforts, sliding back into the second half of the field on settling down. He was third-last in running, racing three-wide with cover around the home turn as the Mauritian really got stuck into the gelding approaching the 400m point. He swung wide on the turn and was still spotting the leader 5-3/4 lengths with 400m to run, with the leader skipping away early in the straight. The four-year-old just kept chipping away out near the centre of the course, inching closer and closer with every stride before putting his nose down right on the wire to score by a short head. PRECISION GOAL couldn't have been ridden any better by Jerry Chau. The local hoop took his mount to the front as they worked around the first turn. He led the field relatively easily down the back with not a whole lot of pressure to speak of. Travelling strongly to the turn, the gelding skipped away by 3 lengths at the top of the straight and it looked as though he may have a winning margin. He was tiring close to the line though and was grabbed right at the post in a heartbreaking defeat for connections. BOOM ALLIANCE made a strong run down the outside at the top of the straight and looked as though he'd threaten for victory. He couldn't match it with the first two close to the line though, settling in a lonely third 1-3/4 lengths away.
Race 2 – Cameron Handicap, HK $875,000
Class 5 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:09.64 Standard Time: 1:09.10 Course/Class record: 1:08.46 Trillion Treasure
Keagan De Melo and Chris So teamed up to win the second in a relatively large upset, with STRIVE FOR GLORY (USA 6yo g Dialed In – Chu And You) scoring at $24. The gelding wasn't the fastest into stride and settled in the back half of the field with a strong tempo set early on. De Melo was able to creep closer throughout the event, sneaking forward between runners around the home turn with rivals in front of him fanning wide on the turn. The gap opened up shortly after straightening and the South African pulled his mount into the clear. He quickened well once into the clear, taking the lead inside the final 100m and pulling away to win easily, scoring by 1-1/4 lengths in good fashion. SUPER JOY jumped at $47 and made a strong effort right down the outside to claim second. The flashy grey didn't show any early speed from his wide draw and settled at the tail of the field after being ridden along by Matthew Chadwick. The gelding got onto the back of the eventual winner around the home turn but peeled wider on the course. He was unable to match the winner over the concluding stages, but he exceeded his market expectation to finish in second. MIRACLES enjoyed a cosy run on the back of the leader right throughout and held on to claim third.
Race 3 – Carnarvon Handicap, HK $1,170,000
Class 4 – All Weather - Distance 1800m - Track Good
Time: 1:49.17 Standard Time: 1:48.35 Course/Class record: 1:47.45 Mission Bravo
Apprentice Angus Chung continued his good form, riding ALL ARE MINE (GER 4yo New Bay – Ardeola) to victory for his master Tony Cruz. It wasn't the cleanest get away for the four-year-old as he was bumped around shortly after the start, settling in a midfield position. Chung worked across to the rail around the first turn and tried to put his mount to sleep with only a moderate tempo being set down the back straight. All Are Mine was held up slightly passing the 600m as Chung tried to look for a way through the traffic, with the field stretched right across the track and causing interference to one another at the top of the straight. The local hoop had to wait on a run, but when the split came the horse exploded through, setting out after the leader inside the final 200m and going on to score by a neck. BLISSFUL STAR showed good early speed under Antoine Hamelin to slide across and land in the one-out-one-back position. After enjoying a lovely run throughout the event, Hamelin peeled into the clear heading for home, having to push his way into the clear with rivals layinf in on top of him. He shot to the front with a furlong to run, with he and All Are Mine setting down to fight it out close to the wire. He was unable to hold off the winner in the dying stages, but it was a brilliant run, especially as he started at $66. NORDIC STAR made a sustained run from the rear to grab third, but he was just too far back in the run to challenge for the win.
Race 4 – Hankow Handicap, HK $1,170,000
Class 4 – Turf - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:09.48 Standard Time: 1:09.40 Course/Class record: 1:08.40 Master Eight
The first race on the turf for the afternoon was taken out by impressive debutant KA YING RISING (NZ 3yo g Shamexpress – Missy Moo) for Zac Purton and David Hayes. The gelding wasn't the quickest into stride, but he mustered good speed to press on from the wide draw and settle on the back of the leader. Purton used him as a bunny early on before moving up to sit on the outside of the leader turning for home. The debutant simply ambled up to take the lead under a strong hold by Purton and shot away when asked for an effort. Purton was already looking over his shoulder at the 200m point as the gelding ran away for an emphatic victory, scoring by 2-3/4 lengths. It was a tight go for second, but STRATHPEFFER got the bob in. He'd been racing on the back of the eventual winner around the home turn before peeling wider to challenge for the lead at the top of the straight. He couldn't go with the winner who quickened away powerfully, but he dug deep under the urgings of Keagan De Melo to finish in second, getting the nod in a photo finish. TELECOM DRAGON had then been on the back of Strathpeffer in the run and peeled off his back to get into clear air at the top of the straight. It looked as though the gelding would run straight past his rival into second, but Strathpeffer didn't give in, with James McDonald and Telecom Dragon having to settle for third.
Race 5 – Middle Handicap, HK $1,170,000
Class 4 – All Weather - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:09.49 Standard Time: 1:08.85 Course/Class record: 1:08.14 Happy Tour
It was another tough race for punters as James McDonald and Danny Shum combined to win with JUDY'S GREAT (NZ 3yo g War Decree – Word Savvy) at $23. The gelding was away on terms from an outside draw, with McDonald looking to slot in somewhere midfield on settling down. McDonald was unable to get into the running line and was left racing three-wide in the run but did have some cover as he improve his position turning off the back. He built good momentum around the home turn and had plenty of clear air to make a challenge on the leader. It took a while for the gelding to stick his nose in front, with two rivals back to his inside not giving in without a fight. But to his credit, the son of War Decree dug in strongly at just his second start, fighting hard to shed the maiden tag. SMART FOLKS had a very tough run in transit, sprinting across from the wide draw sitting three-wide up front. Despite the tough run, the gelding sprinted away at the top of the straight under Antoine Hamelin and proved very hard to run down close to home. It was a very gutsy effort albeit a losing one. FLYING DRAGON was the one to keep Smart Folks three-wide in the run as he burrowed through to race between Smart Folks and the leader. He stuck on well in the straight to finish third in a very tight finish.
Race 6 – The Peninsula Golden Jubilee Challenge Cup (Handicap), HK $2,840,000
Class 2 – All Weather - Distance 1200m - Track Good
Time: 1:08.05 Standard Time: 1:08.30 Course/Class record: 1:07.27 Winner Supreme
Things didn't get any easier for punters in the feature event as PING HAI GALAXY (AUS 8yo g The Factor – De Lago Flash) led all the way for Alex Badel and John Size, jumping at odds of $25. The flashy grey was one of the first into stride and rolled forward under Badel to take up the running. He was running along up front but wasn't pressured as the field strung out turning off the back straight. He had plenty of rivals already under plenty of pressure a long way from the finish as he turned for home 1-3/4 lengths in front. He was able to pull away from the rest of the field with 200m to run but was getting weary close to the line. Only one rival was making a charge at him close to the line, but he was ridden perfectly by the Frenchman to hold on for victory by a short head. FLYING ACE settled near the tail of the field after being only moderately away from an outside alley. He found himself a long way back in the running with a strong pace being set up front, but Purton was able to get a nice cart into the race three-wide with cover. He was 6-1/2 lengths away turning for home, but Zac Purton looked very confident as the gelding strode around the home turn. The Australian hoop pressed the button eventually and the chestnut was making good ground down the outside, being the only challenger to the leader who had shot clear. He was getting closer with every stride but ran out of time to stick his nose in front, failing by a short head on the line in a close finish. PACKING TREAMDILL stuck on well for third but was a further 1-3/4 lengths back.
Race 7 – Humphreys Handicap, HK $2,050,000
Class 3 – All Weather - Distance 1650m - Track Good
Time: 1:38.00 Standard Time: 1:38.25 Course/Class record: 1:36.79 True Legend
Lyle Hewitson continued his successful association with YELLOWFIN (AUS 5yo g Territories – Clearly Foxy) as they bolted in for trainer Francis Lui. The gelding was one of the first into stride and had superior pace, crossing his rivals heading into the first turn to lead the field. Hewitson was able to dictate out in front, only cruising down the back straight before being forced to ramp up the speed when challenged at about the 700m point. He took things up a notch, holding the lead and sprinting away from his rival as they turned for home, quickly putting four lengths on them. He never looked like getting beaten as he won emphatically by 3-1/4 lengths. SO WE JOY jumped on terms but ended up in a tricky position in the run, being a little worse than midfield and locked along the inside rail through the first half of the race. Once the pace ramped up turning off the back, Andrea Atzeni was able to slice through the field and only go around 1 runner in the straight to chase after the leader. The winner was already off and gone by that point, with Atzeni and So We Joy having to settle for second. KIMBERLEY got the photo finish his way for third, sticking to the inside rail and just chugging away along the inside, seeing off race favourite ADEFILL who finished in fourth.
Race 8 – Mody Handicap, HK $1,860,000
Class 3 – Turf - Distance 1000m - Track Good
Time: 57.05 Standard Time: 56.25 Course/Class record: 54.89 Voyage Warrior
Alex Badel brought up a double on the day as the David Hall-trained SUMMIT CHEERS (AUS 6yo g Zoustar – Saffie Darling) got the job done down the straight course. The gelding jumped on terms but slid back from barrier 1 to get close to the favourable grandstand rail on settling down. He travelled comfortably near the back but was still 4-3/4 lengths off the leader with 400m left to run. Badel moved his mount toward the centre of the course as he asked for an effort with 200m remaining and the gelding responded strongly. He charged home down the centre of the course to take the lead inside the final 50m to win by a neck on the line. FLYING HIGH had nestled himself in behind the leading division, racing with cover through the middle stages under Matthew Chadwick. He got clear air with about 350m remaining and looked the winner as he loomed up to take the lead at the 150m point. He just couldn't see off the winner who had the last crack at him, finishing in second. LUCKY GOR made a strong run from the rear of the field under Karis Teetan to finish in third, coming down the middle of the track.
Race 9 – Nathan Handicap, HK $1,170,000
Class 4 – Turf – Distance 1400m - Track Good
Time: 1:22.58 Standard Time: 1:22.10 Course/Class record: 1:20.80 Perfect Pair
Franci Lui and Vincent Ho warmed up for Golden Sixty next week at HKIR, teaming up with HOLY LAKE (IRE 3yo g Holy Roman Emperor – Lake Louise) to win the penultimate event. The gelding bounced well off the inside draw and landed in a good position just off the speed. As the field sorted their order out turning off the back, Ho was able to slide along the rail and get onto the back of the leader turning into the straight. The three-year-old was already under heavy pressure around the turn and looked to be going backwards early in the straight, but somehow found another gear midway down the straight to challenge for the lead. He surged through to hit the front close to home, scoring by a neck on the line. GOLDEN BULL was taken back from the draw on settling down, racing in the second half of the field. He was wedged between runners throughout the event, but as the field fanned turning for home, Jerry Chau was looking to work his way though the traffic. He may have been something beaten Golden Bull, being unable to get out until the 300m point where he stormed right down the outside. He made things interesting in the shadows of the post, but just found one better on the day. RIVER VIEWS has settled up on the speed under Ellis Wong and showed plenty of strength to take the lead late in the race. He just tired close to the line which saw two get past him, but it was an effort that must be respected moving forward.
Race 10 – Salisbury Handicap, HK $1,860,000
Class 3 – Turf – Distance 1400m - Track Good
Time: 1:22.34 Standard Time: 1:21.80 Course/Class record: 1:20.62 Preciousship
The successful band got back together in the final event with Zac Purton and John Size combining with PINS PRINCE (NZ 6yo g Pins – Urban). He jumped away well off the inside and had good speed to hold his position close to the speed on settling down. The field strung out early doors as they found their positions, with Purton settling about midfield as they turned off the back straight. He was travelling strongly as the pace continued to come out of the event, with the champion hoop getting away from the inside and looking for a clear passage through. He got that early in the straight and the gelding ran to the lead with 200m to run. It never looked in doubt inside the final stages as he won comfortably in the end, with a length up his sleeve. MIRDORI BURLY was very impressive on his debut in Hong Kong, settling near the tail of the field and running into second for Matthew Poon and Ricky Yiu. He had plenty of trouble finding clear early early in the straight, but the gelding showed plenty of speed once clear to charge into second. AWESOME FLUKE was another making his Hong Kong debut and stuck on well. The West Australian Derby winner will obviously be programmed toward the 4YO Series, and he kick started his new career in good style.