Teetan ‘hungry’ as ever ahead of LONGINES IJC defence

Karis Teetan celebrates his maiden LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship success. Photo by HKJC.

News

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

04/12/2020

By Declan Schuster, for the HKJC.

 

A determined Karis Teetan will defend his LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship crown next Wednesday (9 December) at Happy Valley against 11 world class rivals as he bids to become the second back-to-back winner of the challenge.

“I won it last year – it’s made me hungry to try and win it again this year, so I will be giving it my best,” Teetan said.

Teetan will look to join fellow South African Jockey Academy graduate Douglas Whyte (2007 & 2008) as successful defenders of their LONGINES IJC title.

The Mauritian secured his first in 2019 with a hugely consistent effort across the four-race spectacular, taking home the coveted silver whip and first prize of HK$500,000.

“I wouldn’t say I was nervous but I definitely felt the pressure – we’re human and it did get to me, it’s the world’s biggest stage and you’ve got all these top jockeys around you from the world,” Teetan said.

After notching a third and a first from the initial two legs, he was in pole position, before edging past rivals with another third-placed effort in the decider.

“You definitely feel the pressure but I was not like nervous that I couldn’t do it but I did have to keep my cool and try to relax – I’ve ridden at the Happy Valley track for so long so I just had to try and ride and do what I’ve been doing and it worked out perfectly.”

The Mauritian ace shrugged off pressure, a world-class line-up and, with a bit of luck he captured his maiden LONGINES IJC triumph – with a bit of help from a fast-finishing High Rev.

“It was a bit heads up and heads down – I knew I had finished off strongly but I knew there were a few horses on my inside and I had a feeling I was there but I wasn’t sure.

“When I saw the number go up, I still wasn’t sure how many points ahead I was but when I came in Umberto Rispoli told me ‘You won it – don’t worry’, so then I got excited,” Teetan said.

Four points for third was all Teetan needed from High Rev and that’s what he got as he leap-frogged Ryan Moore into first place, winning with 20 points to Moore’s 18.

“There’s a lot of jockeys in the challenge who have ridden in Hong Kong but most of the guys that come sometimes have good experience.

“But us Hong Kong-based riders are in and out of Happy Valley every week so we sort of know how the track is running, where it’s running, and what’s happening – it definitely helps that we get to ride on it every week,” Teetan said.

 

Teetan kisses the coveted trophy.
Teetan kisses the coveted trophy.

 

Teetan rode a career-high 93 wins last season and snared a second Hong Kong G1 aboard Mr Stunning in the 2020 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m).

“I would say winning the challenge helped me even in Hong Kong, more owners have seen me on the big stage and trainers have noticed, even now and it’s a big challenge and of course to win it was something really special.”

“It’s one of the biggest events for jockeys around the world, and last year you saw how many people travelled to Hong Kong for the week and the weekend of the International races at Sha Tin,” Teetan said.

Teetan’s first Hong Kong win came at his first ride back in September 2013, saluting aboard Amazing Always for David Ferraris. Since then, the Mauritian has added a further 418 to his running total.

South Africa’s Champion Apprentice of 2008 has thrived in Hong Kong’s tough environment with considerable success and he now ranks among the circuit’s best.

“It meant a lot, being in Hong Kong and achieving big things like that, to put yourself on the world stage, this place only makes you improve – looking back it was such a great experience and something that I will never forget,” Teetan said.


Size hopes history repeats on two fronts at the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races with Waikuku and Hot King Prawn

John Size is an 11-time Hong Kong-champion trainer. Photo by HKJC.

News

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

04/12/2020

By Leo Schlink, for the HKJC.

 

John Size is banking on Waikuku’s class to offset a lengthy absence from competition as the 11-time champion trainer prepares to launch an audacious tilt on the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin on Sunday, 13 December.

Waikuku will have been off the scene for 231 days before he throws down the gauntlet to a galaxy of star milers, notably Golden Sixty, Japan’s 2019 winner Admire Mars, dual Hong Kong Mile champion Beauty Generation and G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile victor Order Of Australia.

The son of Harbour Watch crossed the line first in a 1200m trial under Joao Moreira at Sha Tin on Friday 4 December, fuelling hopes Size can add to his tally of triumphs at the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races.

“He’s making progress. He’s healthy and well and happy to train,” Size said.

“He’s making some progress so go to the races and just hope he gets a sweet run.

“He might grab some prizemoney. He’s first-up for a long time and he’s had some interruptions but if you could get some prizemoney, I’m sure we’d be happy with that and we could proceed to the Stewards’ Cup.”

Size contrived a Hong Kong Mile miracle with Glorious Days in 2013 by prevailing at the elite level after a long layoff, almost repeating the feat with Luger in the 2016 Stewards’ Cup.

But the Australian handler acknowledges the difficulty of succeeding at the highest level without race fitness.

“Luger had a long break and got beaten an inch and Glorious Days had a long break and he won the race, this race,” Size said.

“They’re the only two I can remember.

“I don’t think you can do much, you’ve just got to follow your programme and hope that on the day the class of the horse is normally the deciding factor in any race.

“So, he’s got plenty of quality. He’ll probably help you out.”

Size will seek a third G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) crown with Hot King Prawn after the grey’s 1050m trial win at Sha Tin on Friday 4 December.

Successful with Mr Stunning in 2017 and last year with Beat The Clock, Size is quietly confident the son of Denman can push for victory at his third attempt in the race.

“He seems OK. He’s sort of improving all the time. He’s needed the racing to bring him on,” he said.

“He’s a fairly gross horse and you can’t push him, you’ve just got to wait for him and I think he looks OK to me.

“It’s a G1 race, so they’re all good horses.

“There’s plenty of good horses in it, there are no slow ones so there’s always something to beat in the run to the line.”

Runner-up last year in the Hong Kong Sprint, Hot King Prawn will face high quality opposition including Classique Legend, Singapore’s Inferno and Japan’s Danon Smash and Tower Of London as well as a slew of highly-rated locals, including Computer Patch and Rattan.

Hot King Prawn finished ninth in the 2018 Hong Kong Sprint but returned impressively after colic surgery in early 2019, only to suffer a neck defeat in this race last year behind Beat The Clock.

He posted his first victory of the 2020/21 season in the G2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m), eclipsing Computer Patch and Rattan on 22 November at Sha Tin.


Win Bright and Admire Mars shoot for a LONGINES HKIR repeat

Christophe Soumillon celebrates the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile win of Admire Mars. Photo by HKJC.

News

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

3/12/2020

By Kate Hunter, for the HKJC.

 

The one thing we have seen of the Japanese racing in the past decade is a growing hunger to travel abroad, but while 2020 has not been kind to Japanese raiders, a strong but small team entered for the 2020 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races could change that.

Nearly a dozen horses were stranded in Dubai after the races were called off at the last minute; others interested in heading to Europe or America in the spring were unable to travel later in the year on saw long travel delays and significant risks.

Ultimately, though, the Japanese are just as determined to travel to Hong Kong for the International Races they love (and often win), this time bringing a team of six, featuring two previous HKIR winners, three other G1 winners and a G1 placegetter, all venturing to participate in their favourite year-end international meet.

The Japanese assault is headlined by Win Bright and Admire Mars, two returning HKIR champions from 2019. Both horses had much of their 2020 ravaged by the pandemic as they flew to Dubai in March, only for the Dubai World Cup meeting to be cancelled immediately after they cleared quarantine at Meydan. It took a little over a week to get them back home, leaving their late spring and early autumn in chaos.

Admire Mars was looking to make his 2020 debut in the G1 Dubai Turf (1800m) on Dubai World Cup day, but with all that prep and the two-week stint in limbo at Meydan, he lost all opportunity to race in Japan’s spring and summer months.
He made his first start of 2020 in the G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m), a tall order for any horse making their first start of the year against the country’s best milers. He stalked the pace well early on but was overtaken by five other G1 winners to finish sixth.

The Yasuo Tomomichi-trained colt was spelled for another few months after that poor performance to start afresh in the autumn. He came back in the G2 Swan Stakes (1400m) in October, where he held on for third before going on to the G1 Mile Championship at Hanshin in late November, where he again posted a third.

“He has had two solid runs so far, so we have him set up to peak in Hong Kong. I think he is physically better this year than he was last year when he won,” Tomomichi said.

“Christophe Soumillon is set to ride him again,” Tomomichi added.

Before his stunning victory last year, Admire Mars had only one start where he finished a lackluster ninth in a G3 two months before travelling to Hong Kong and Tomomichi feels confident his colt will blossom again when he gets back to Sha Tin.

 

Win Bright wins the 2019 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup.

 

Win Bright had only one start in the spring before shipping off to Dubai, where he finished seventh in the G2 Nakayama Kinen, a race he had won in the past two years. The Dubai mishap meant he didn’t make another start until the G1 Tenno Sho Autumn (2000m) in October, where he finished 10th. While those two finishes could easily make any punter wary, Win Bright’s brightest moments have all come in Hong Kong.

Last year, the Yoshihiro Hatakeyama-trained entire went to Hong King twice to win both the G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) and the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup, despite running poorly in Japan in-between. He clearly loves Hong Kong in the best ways and his stable would expect a big run from the son of Hong Kong Vase winner Stay Gold.

“The horse is doing quite well, much like last year. He wasn’t quite at his best leading up to the Tenno Sho Autumn, even more so this year with so much time between races,” Hatakeyama said.

“Then again, just like last year, he came out of the Tenno Sho Autumn in fantastic condition, so we are pleased that we have the opportunity to race again in Hong Kong despite the pandemic.”

The steely grey six-year-old is two for two at Sha Tin over 2000m and aims for a third in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m).

“He has missed so much racing this year, it would be a shame not to be able to run him when he is at peak fitness.”

“He went out today with his jockey for his final work in Japan, and he is a completely different horse from where he was a month ago. He is in a similar place physically now as he was last year – we will try our best and hope to make his last run a winning one.”

“Masami Matsuoka will travel over for the Cup again this year, even though he will have a two-week quarantine upon returning to Japan, he felt the Hong Kong Cup and Win Bright are worth taking the rest of the year off for – it is very kind of him, we will try our best and hopefully come home with good results again.”

Rounding out the Japanese contingent at the 2020 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races is Danon Premium, Normcore who also contest the Hong Kong Cup, while Danon Smash and Tower Of London tackle the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).

____________________________________________

 

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Clock ticks as Classique Legend trials towards his G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint tilt

Classique Legend strides out in his 1000m trial under Vincent Ho. Photo by HKJC.

News

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

1/12/2020

By Declan Schuster for the HKJC.

 

Classique Legend took a crucial step towards his G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) tilt with his first Hong Kong barrier trial on the turf at Sha Tin this morning (Tuesday, 1 December).

But while satisfied with the grey’s effort, trainer Caspar Fownes implied caution as he swiftly prepares the talented grey for his Hong Kong debut in the HK$22 million sprint contest on 13 December at the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races.

“Obviously he’s a bit rusty and he hasn’t had an ideal prep as I have been saying – I’m just doing the best I possibly can considering the time frame I have,” Fownes said of the Australian-bred five-year-old who arrived in Hong Kong only 23 days ago.

The Not A Single Doubt gelding settled at the rear of the field early on over 1000m on the Sha Tin turf under local ace Vincent Ho, before being pushed out to cross the line third behind Sky Field and Assimilate in a time of 58.67s.

“The trial was acceptable – it’s the first time he has been down the straight and he just picked up nice, did his job – he came back nice and we’ll scope him and make sure everything is A1 over there,” Fownes said.

Fownes’ speedster last raced in the AU$15 million (approx. HK$85.6 million) The Everest (1200m) at Randwick Racecourse on 17 October, beating home seven individual G1 winners at his final Australian start to earn a 125 international rating as the joint-highest rated sprinter in the world alongside three-time G1 winner Bivouac on the LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.

“He just looked from the 100 metre-mark to the post that he would put them away but he just ground off a little bit, which obviously, his fitness will improve for that,” Fownes said.

Following his final Australian outing, the lightly-raced speedster spent close to three weeks in quarantine at the Werribee International Horse Centre, where he was still able to still remain in work, before a flight to Hong Kong on 9 November.

“Everything has been a rush – it hasn’t been ideal, I know everyone is watching from around the world and they think it’s easy – it doesn’t work like that.

“The horse has to come in here, have a vaccination, he’s also been sedated for freeze-branding and he was only cantering at Werribee – I took no chances with him because I’m not there on the ground,” Fownes said.

“But all excuses aside, if he is the best and even if I present him at 85-90% he should be good enough but like anything you just have to hope they come here and adapt as soon as possible.”

Fownes indicated that his final gallop would likely determine the grey’s participation in the Hong Kong Sprint, a race that the handler won in 2011 with the brilliant Lucky Nine.

“I’m still learning about the horse – the preparation this horse has had, he’s come to me at the end of his prep, they built him up for the big grand swansong and they got the job done and I’ve just got to come in and try and pinch one more race before I freshen him up,” Fownes said.

“I’ll always do the right thing – if I’m not happy, I’ll do what it takes, the horse always come first, the owner is very good and I’ll be speaking to him and at this stage it’s all systems go and we’ll just make sure he pulls up well.

“I wouldn’t take much from the trial compared to race day and also around a turn and the 1000 metres has always been a specialist track, they just learn a little bit but on face value – not too bad, now we just have to see how he is and where his final gallop takes us.”

 

Classic Legend strides out in his trial at Sha Tin. Photo by HKJC.

 

Fownes’s plans after Sunday week’s sprint include overseas targets, while an option at home is the season’s following G1 sprint contest, the HK$12 million Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) on 24 January, 2021.

“It’s a bit of a juggling act and you’ve just got to hope on the day that he does what is required, but long term once he settles into Hong Kong then I can actually get to know him better and train him accordingly,” Fownes said.

“As you can see, he comes out there he has a bit of presence about him and hopefully he’ll make Hong Kong home and do really well for us and we get to travel with him because that’s where the money is and that’s where the horse should be going.”

Three-time Melbourne Cup winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy, who rode Classique Legend to his latest win, is expected to take the reins:

“Kerrin McEvoy is confirmed,” Fownes said.


Four-year-olds to the fore as Sky Darci takes the Cup and Enrich Delight impresses on debut

Sky Darci wins the Chevalier Cup Handicap. Photo by HKJC.

News

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

29/11/2020

By Declan Schuster, for the HKJC.

 

Caspar Fownes could have the strongest hand of any trainer in January’s Hong Kong Classic Mile as smart four-year-olds Sky Darci and Enrich Delight came to the fore at Sha Tin this afternoon (Sunday, 29 November).

Sky Darci made a big statement with victory in the Class 1 Chevalier Cup Handicap (1600m), the day’s feature, and he did so at his first try in the grade following two Class 3 successes over 1200m at the city circuit.

“He was held up at a crucial stage of the race when everyone else had momentum, it’s tough to do what he did today – it’s gutsy,” Fownes said. “He did it because he wants to do it, he’s got a bit of spunk about him.”

The Darci Brahma gelding successfully made his first attempt at the mile a winning one and he did it in style, with a gritty triumph to maintain his unbeaten sequence this term as the HK$12 million first leg of the three-race age restricted series beckons on 24 January, 2021.

“He’ll have a bit of a freshen up now, he’s done very well – I’ll look at the program, whether he has one run before the Classic Mile or not I’ll decide later but right now he’s done a great job for us and I’m very happy for the owners,” Fownes said.

The talented four-year-old has gone from strength-to-strength this term and today handled an 11-point rating rise to win and now could find himself stamped with a triple figure rating.

“I felt the horse has got it well within his compass to go to the mile and even further, because what he was doing at Happy Valley he was just doing on his raw ability,” Fownes said.

“It’s pretty tough to go straight from a Class 3 to a Class 1 but I just felt we had the right horse to give us the chance to do it – up in class but down in weight and a horse that is in really top form so you have to take a chance.

“Especially considering it is his four-year-old year and you hope that they’re good enough to mix it with those type of horses and now he’s proven that he can, so he’s certainly earned his way in the Four-Year-Old Classic Series now,” Fownes said.

Joao Moreira settled the New Zealand-bred on the rail close to the speed, a hapless run in the straight followed before he knuckled down under the Brazilian’s urgings for a narrow score ahead of fellow Classic Series prospect, Lucky Express (115lb).

“He gave me the feel that he could do it when he won last start at Happy Valley – he has a high enough rating to go into the Four-Year-Old Classic Series with the reputation of being a nice horse, he’s no doubt going to go there with a good winning chance,” Moreira said.

Fownes drew comparisons to Green Birdie, who won the Hong Kong Derby Trial in 2008 over 1800m, the race now known as the Hong Kong Classic Cup and is the second-leg of the series.

“We’ve had a great season so far with him (Sky Darci) it looked to be quite strong through the line – I won the Classic Cup over 1800 metres with a sprinter in Green Birdie and this guy has much better staying ability than him,” Fownes said.

“When you’re at your four-year-old year you can get away with certain things because you’re up against the same age group,” he added.

 

Enrich Delight impresses on debut

Fownes’ day would only get better in the finale as the ex-Godolphin owned Enrich Delight, known as Chenier prior to export, would notch a dazzling win in the finale, the Class 2 Chevalier Property Investment Handicap (1400m) to seal a treble for Moreira, but it was no revelation to the handler.

“I’m not surprised at all – I told Joao (Moreira) a while back – I said ‘I think this horse could be pretty special’,“ Fownes said “I’m not riding them but I can get a good feel for horses from training good horses for years and I said to him, ‘This one you want to be riding – he’s pretty smart’.”

The youngster placed at G3 level in Australia and finished fourth in the G1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington Racecourse under the care of Anthony Freedman.

“He’s done it very professionally in a good style – he got into trouble in the home straight and horses were dropping quickly back into his face,” Moreira said.

“I went for a run and the gaps started closing and he got interrupted and didn’t have a smooth run, but when he saw daylight he really dashed home and showed he has a lot ability and as Caspar described: he is the real deal.”

Class 2 on debut is no easy feat, especially against a quality field which also saw the high-profile debuts of Tourbillon Diamond (124lb), who was G1-placed in Australia as Eric The Eel and finished third, while two-time Australian G1 winner Shadow Hero (130lb), who was slow out – finished a luckless seventh.

“First-up to do that – if he had got clear at the 200 metre mark he would have (won) in a canter, there’s not many that excite me, but he’s exciting,” Fownes said.

Fownes, with a strong grip on the Classic Mile, is hopeful of the Medaglia d’Oro gelding’s ability to see out a strong 2000m of the BMW Hong Kong Derby in March, 2021.

 

Enrich Delight wins on debut.
Enrich Delight wins on debut.

 

“If he can run 2000m its going to be really exciting, but to do that over 1400 metres first-up, obviously the second run in a couple of weeks’ time will be good then he can sort of take a chill pill and go to the 24th of January for the start of the Classic Series,” Fownes said.

Fownes also confirmed that fellow talented four-year-old Sky Field and The Everest winner Classique Legend will both trial on Tuesday over 1000m on the turf at Sha Tin.

“He (Sky Field) is going to trial down the 1000m with Classique Legend on Tuesday and if he trials well and is strong through the line then he’ll go to the 1200 metres on December 13,” Fownes said.

Moreira also drove Chevalier Prince to a thrilling victory in the Class 3 Chevalier Property Development & Operations Handicap (1600m).

 

Super Axiom impresses on debut

 

Super Axiom wins for Chad Schofield.
Super Axiom wins for Chad Schofield.

 

The David Hayes-trained Super Axiom raced clear to a comfortable two-length win on debut in the Class 4 Chevalier Aluminium Engineering Handicap (1000m) to justify favouritism after a trio of strong trials leading up.

The talented son of Exceed And Excel broke cleanly under Chad Schofield, who rolled across from gate three to find the stand-side rail and an uncontested lead.

“He goes well – he’s shown a lot of ability since he came and I’m lucky enough that David (Hayes) gave him to me to ride, I’ve ridden him nearly every morning,” Schofield said.

The Australian-bred three-year-old was purchased out of the 2018 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, his second dam Goodwood March produced two-time Hong Kong G1 winner Gold-Fun.

“We thought he had a very good chance today and it was nice to see him do it – he’s got a lot to learn but he’s an exciting horse going forward,” Schofield.

Hayes’ young stable has been on show of late as his most recent winner Harmony N Blessed was also a debutant who signaled a bright future with an easy two-length debut win just seven days ago.

 

Piccone gets off the mark

Frenchman Tony Piccone landed the first win of his second Hong Kong stint as Team Spirit toughed it out in front for an all-the-way win in the Class 3 Chevalier Lifts & Escalators Handicap (1200m).

“It took a little bit long but I am very happy, the horse was very good – I won on him last season and I’m very happy,” Piccone said.

The 33-year-old to get off the mark at his 59th ride season 2020/21, but he had gone close with three runner-up efforts prior, and takes his overall total to nine in Hong Kong.

 

Tony Piccone celebrates the win.
Tony Piccone celebrates the win.

 

Apprentice Jerry Chau claimed a double, firstly as Adonis landed a close-up victory in the Class 5 Chevalier Car Dealership Handicap (1400m) for Douglas Whyte, before Kasi Farasi secured the Class 4 Chevalier Healthcare Investment Handicap for trainer Dennis Yip.

Hong Kong’s champion jockey Zac Purton drove the Ricky Yiu-trained Czarson to a first win, claiming the Class 3 Chevalier E & M Engineering Handicap (1200m) by five and a quarter lengths.

Neil Callan continued his fine run of form as Super Alliances scooted clear for back-to-back wins on the Sha Tin dirt by landing the Class 4 Chevalier Construction Handicap (1200m).

All For St Paul’s went all-the way for Derek Leung and Frankie Lor in the Class 4 Chevalier Environmental Engineering Handicap (1600m).

Hong Kong racing continues this Wednesday (2 December) at Happy Valley.


EXCLUSIVE: Christophe Lemaire discusses Almond Eye before her last race, the 2020 Japan Cup

Winning the Tenno Sho (Autumn) for the second time gave Almond Eye a JRA record 8 Grade One races. Photo by JRA.

News

Jason Tan

Jason Tan

HUTCHI'S HONKERS MANAGER

The 2020 Japan Cup on Sunday 29 November is one of the most anticipated races of the year and features Almond Eye, Contrail and Daring Tact amongst other high-class thoroughbreds!

Almond Eye will have her final race start in this Grade 1 at Fuchu racecourse, Tokyo. Her regular rider Christophe Lemaire spoke with Hutchi’s Honkers’ Jason Tan about the champion thoroughbred, her chances, and how he sees the race unfolding – this is a must-watch interview!


500 at the Valley for Fownes; Moreira and Purton take three each

Caspar Fownes celebrates win number 500 at the Valley. Photo by HKJC.

News

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

26/11/2020

By Declan Schuster, for the HKJC.

 

Explosive Witness ensured Caspar Fownes’ moniker as the ‘King of the Valley’ rang true at Happy Valley tonight (Wednesday, 25 November) as the handler brought up a significant milestone with his 500th win at the city circuit in the Class 2 Chai Wan Kok Handicap (1000m).

Fownes has the most wins at the Valley of any active trainer on the roster, his heroics at the course include six wins in a day, and this term, he has 17 wins under the Happy Valley lights – the most of any handler this term.

“I love this track – it’s been really good to me, I’m pretty good at placing my horses here and you need a lot of luck when you come here as well,” Fownes said.

Fownes was first licensed for the 2003/04 season and he landed the first of three champion trainer titles not long after in the 2006/07 season, and among 916 Hong Kong wins in total, he’s forged a brilliant career presenting heroes of the turf like Lucky Nine, The Duke, Super Satin, Green Birdie and Southern Legend.

“This is what the game is about, whether it’s Class 5 or Group 1 – I just love it, I’m passionate, I always give it everything,” Fownes said.

The championship leading trainer takes his seasonal tally to 28 wins as he puts the foot down in his bid for a fourth title with a midweek double.

“I said to my boys at the start of the season that I’m going for it this year, I think we’ve got the horses spread across the classes and I’m just going to put the foot down and see what happens – if I win, I win and if I don’t at least I gave it my best shot,” Fownes said.

A late rally from Explosive Witness sealed Fownes’ double, the galloper, making it three wins in succession following an injury-plagued first three years in Hong Kong.

“That horse is special to me – we bought him from one run, he had a hefty price tag on him and he came here and he just drove me nuts – it broke your heart,” Fownes said.

The Australian import won on debut at Moonee Valley pre-import in March, 2017 but had to wait three years to break his duck in Hong Kong.

“Every time you’d get him prepared for a race it’d just go by the wayside and you’d just have to build him up again,” Fownes said. “He missed well over a year it was well documented and I just knew he had so much talent.

“It’s so nice to now see that when owners are patient and now he’s on his way to paying them back and he’s won his last three – he can certainly close off with a massive sectional here,” Fownes said.

The 86-rater scored at his first try in Class 2 this evening against a solid field under Alexis Badel, who earlier kicked off his double with victory aboard the Frankie Lor-trained Virtus Star in the Class 5 Yau Kom Tau Handicap (1650m).

 

Virtus Star gets his nose in front.
Virtus Star gets his nose in front.

 

“The horse has been brave and courageous and he showed one more time he was very competitive and he’s in great form this season,” Badel said.

The Sebring gelding took 22 starts to snare his first Hong Kong win, and now, has three in succession and sits on the cusp of a step up to Class 4 with a pre-race rating of 31. The win was the first of a double for Lor.

The win was the first of a double for Lor, who secured the second section of the Class 4 Tai Lam Handicap (1200m) with the lightly raced Rewarding Together under Joao Moreira.

 

Moreira and Purton take three each

 

Joao Moreira leads the champion jockey race with 42 wins.
Joao Moreira leads the champion jockey race with 42 wins.

 

Championship leading jockey Joao Moreira bagged a treble this evening, as did current champion jockey Zac Purton, starring on tonight’s fixture at Happy Valley with six wins between them as two of only three jockeys to win a race on the card.

Moreira kicked off evening with Frankie Lor, but closed it out with powerful ally Caspar Fownes aboard Royal Racer in the Class 4 Tsing Lung Tau Handicap (1650m).

“I said to Caspar (Fownes) it wasn’t a pretty ride but very efficient because I had to come wide at the last corner but I knew what I had underneath – I had a full horse underneath.

“I pretty much looked after him in the first half and when I pulled him out and asked him to get going he responded very well and he ran away from them,” Moreira said.

Moreira’s three-timer featured a win aboard Ambitious Heart for trainer David Ferraris in the first section of the Class 4 Tai Lam Handicap (1200m).

Meanwhile Purton, the reigning champion jockey, kicked off his treble in the first section of the Tsing Lung Tau Handicap (1650m) aboard Total Power for trainer David Hall. The win was the jockey and trainer’s fourth together this term.

The five-year-old bay spent the off season at Conghua and bounced into the winner’s enclosure following two trials at his 11th Hong Kong start.

“He’s another horse that we have had in Conghua, he had his first trial there and I think it certainly hasn’t hurt him,” Hall said.

The Dundeel gelding was a two-time winner pre-import, also placing at Listed level in the Inglis 3YO Guineas at Scone Racecourse to Wild Planet, who subsequently won the G2 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse.

“Every horse that has come back from Conghua has performed really well for us so we’re really happy with the way things are going up there and it certainly contributed to him winning first-up over 1650m with 133 pounds on his back,” Hall said.

Tonight’s win is the Melbourne Cup-winning handler’s 12th success this season.

“All the preparation work was done at Conghua so another tick for the team up there and also the facilities,” Hall said.

A well-judged front-running ride from Purton followed in the Class 3 Kap Shui Mun Handicap (1200m) aboard the Danny Shum-trained Grateful Heart, who made all for a tidy half-length success.

“He’s just taken a little bit of time to strengthen up, he showed some ability in his early trials but under race pressure he was a little bit weak,” Purton said. “This season he’s had the benefit of the off season and like a lot of horses he’s just come back better for it,”

Purton closed out his three with victory in the finale aboard ex-John Gosden trainee Holy Heart who scored back-to-back wins at the Valley, taking the Class 3 Sham Tseng Handicap (1650m) by a neck.

Neil Callan’s recent run of form has paid dividends with the Irishman earning the coveted sixth and final spot on the Hong Kong team for the LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship on 9 December at Happy Valley.

The 42-year-old landed six wins from the previous four race meetings to lift his haul to 11 for the term.

Hong Kong racing continues this Sunday (29 November) at Sha Tin.


Masterly Hot King Prawn seals a second Jockey Club Sprint

Hot King Prawn wins the Jockey Club Sprint for the second time. Photo by HKJC.

News

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

22/11/2020

By David Morgan, for the HKJC

 

Hot King Prawn will carry high hopes into the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) in three weeks’ time after shrugging off a wide passage and nine rivals to win the G2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin today (Sunday, 22 November).

The eye-catching grey was three quarters of a length too good for his opponents but scored with more mastery than that margin might suggest, leaving jockey Joao Moreira and trainer John Size satisfied that the six-year-old is in form good enough perhaps to snare a long-awaited first career G1.

“He’s won with authority – not to disrespect the other horses in the race because some of those might improve as well but I just couldn’t be any happier with him. He’s going to December as an improving horse; he’s a class horse, a quality horse, and we can go there with plenty of confidence – there’s no doubt that that’s the race we want to win,” the Brazilian said after Hot King Prawn held off Computer Patch and the late-charging Rattan.

Moreira and his mount have been in this position before. Two years ago, the pair sealed this race with a strong front-running display before the same approach resulted in a fading-out ninth in the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint when favourite.

But nowadays the Size trainee has less of the precocious spark about him and a cool maturity was evident in the gelding’s manners when Moreira was faced with a four-way battle for the lead: the rider eased back to the second rank, and, when forced to accept a position three-wide, his mount, powder-pale face to the breeze, settled into a purring rhythm.

“I wasn’t worried because I knew I was going into the race with a fit horse,” Moreira said. “He’s got a little bit more mature and he hasn’t been showing as much speed as early on in his career, but I just can’t see that as a bad thing because all we want is to have a strong horse at the finish and he’s proven to be that kind of horse today. He’s one of a kind.”

Hot King Prawn was the second home in a Size-trained one-two in the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint last term, with the now-retired champion sprinter Beat The Clock edging the win. The 11-time champion trainer expects to see further improvement when his current number one lines up for his third start of the campaign in next month’s big race.

“I thought the run was okay, he’s covered a little bit of ground and finished the race off quite nicely, I wouldn’t expect any more. I think probably he’s still improving and he’ll be a bit better on international day,” he said.

“He’s six years old this season but sometimes our good horses can be that age and still do their best. Hong Kong is a place where mature horses can have an advantage sometimes. He had one start before the Hong Kong Sprint last season because he was coming back off a colic operation, so he was a little bit disadvantaged, so this time he’s probably had a more comfortable preparation.”

Despite this 11th success of his 21-race career, there is no guarantee that the victorious 3.9 second-favourite will line-up as Hong Kong’s prime contender in the Hong Kong Sprint, with the newly-imported The Everest winner Classique Legend – trained by Caspar Fownes – being forwarded as the division’s latest pin-up. Size, though, is not concerned.

“It’s difficult to assess (Classique Legend) from here, we’ll have to see him race in Hong Kong and we’ll probably get a better guide then,” he said sagely.

Size also gave an update on last season’s G1 Stewards’ Cup winner Waikuku who will step out for the first time this term in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile against a field likely to include impressive G2 Jockey Club Mile winner Golden Sixty.

“Waikuku has been doing okay. He’s behind schedule obviously but he’ll have another trial and all being well he’ll go into the race first-up,” Size said.

Moreira earned a big-race double when guiding the Tony Cruz-trained Furore to success in the third of the afternoon’s G2 features, the Jockey Club Cup (2000m), three-quarters of a length ahead of stablemate and Horse of the Year Exultant.

 

Dreamer keeps winning

The future of the Hong Kong sprint division is looking dreamy after Winning Dreamer (122lb) smoked his rivals in the Class 2 Penfold Park Handicap (1200m) to maintain an unblemished ascent through the handicap grades.

Frankie Lor’s rising star made it five wins from five starts in posting an impressive length and a half margin over the talented Duke Wai (129lb) and Beauty Applause (122lb). Jockey Vincent Ho – successful earlier on Golden Sixty – was pleased with what he viewed as another step in the exciting four-year-old’s education.

“The handicap conditions made it easier for him, he was helped with gate one, too, and he’s still a young horse so this race has helped him – his first in Class 2 – he just needs time to improve,” Ho said.

“He’s still a bit hot but he settled a bit more today: he’s still got plenty to learn but I’m happy with him. Once he picked up, he let down so well and he stayed on really strongly to the line. When they accelerated, it was different for him because the pacing is different in Class 2 than what he’s been used to so far but he did it nicely.”

Lor did not rule out a tilt at the four-year-old-only Hong Kong Classic Mile in January, but acknowledged that such a test may come too soon and would be stretching the Deep Field gelding’s stamina to the limit.

“He keeps improving so I’m happy. In the straight, usually he can come past the horses quickly but because it’s Class 2 now he needed time to pass the front runners. We need to look at the programme and see if we stick to 1200 or go to 1400 metres. It’s exciting,” he said.


Golden Sixty continues march to LONGINES Hong Kong Mile

Golden Sixty returns victorious. Photo by HKJC.

News

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

24/11/2020

By Steve Moran, for the HKJC.

 

Golden Sixty, Hong Kong’s latest racing sensation, continued his seemingly inexorable march to December and Group 1 glory with his tenth consecutive win in today’s (22 November) HK$4.5 million G2 Jockey Club Mile (1600m).

It was a win which came with such authority that even the prospect of stiffer international competition, in next month’s HK$25 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile, may not be enough to end the winning streak of the Francis Lui-trained and Vincent Ho-ridden five-year-old.

Golden Sixty, owned by Stanley Chan Ka Leung, recorded his 13th win from 14 starts and became just the fourth horse to win 10 consecutive races in Hong Kong, emulating greats Silent Witness, Beauty Generation and Co-Tack.

Victory in the 13 December showpiece would see him eclipse Beauty Generation and Co-Tack whose winning runs came to an end at ten straight.

Silent Witness’ 17 consecutive victories may be a distant and near untouchable target but the Australian bred has made a habit of making history – being just the second horse to sweep Hong Kong’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series and the first to win the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) for all local connections since Hong Kong racing turned professional.

Golden Sixty, unbeaten in three runs this season, was capably and patiently ridden by Ho before launching an electric late assault to arrogantly condemn, by a length and a half, the modest pace-setting front-runners Ka Ying Star and Southern Legend to the minor placings.

Ho, delighted with this Group 2 success, believes that Golden Sixty is now well equipped to take on all comers in the Hong Kong Mile which has enjoyed International Group 1 status since 2000.

“He felt really good and sprinted home really well,” Ho said, “the main goal was to settle him as normal and to relax him and he hit the line strongly. He will always produce a really good last quarter. I was happy with how he raced, he’s getting quieter and he knows what’s going on now.

“He’s more mentally mature and he’s a really professional horse now. He’s getting quieter behind the gate, just looking around, taking it in. I just wanted to get him settled first of all, I knew there’d be some pace on which will suit him.

“Actually I think at the moment he’s one of the best horses in Hong Kong. That’s for sure. He’ll be competing at Group 1 now and hopefully we will be winning next month. That was our main goal and main target from last season and these three races have been really good prep (preparation) for him. He’s got stronger each race and I’m really happy with how those races panned out for him.”

Ho said he was grateful for the opportunity to be part of the team with a horse of Golden Sixty’s quality.

“I’ve never been in a Formula 1 car but I feel like riding him it’s probably similar. He’s a once in a lifetime horse for me. Lots of jockeys dream of having a horse like this and I’m extremely grateful to Mr Lui and the owner Mr Chan who have supported me and trusted me and kept me on. The whole stable, whole team feel really lucky,” he said.

Lui also noted that the gelding has matured since his four-year-old season and is hopeful he will measure up to his next assignment.

“I felt nervous before the race but, of course, passed the winning post everything was all right. I feel very happy that the horse can perform so well.

“You can see he’s more relaxed and more mature now. At the moment he looks like a champion but we’ll see what form the international horses bring,” Lui said before reiterating his intention to run in December’s Hong Kong Mile. The horse also has a Hong Kong Cup entry.

The international challenge may include Japan’s Indy Champ and Admire Mars who finished second and third respectively behind Gran Alegria in today’s Group 1 Mile Championship at Hanshin. Admire Mars won last year’s Hong Kong Mile.

Golden Sixty will aim to become the sixth horse to complete the Jockey Club Mile (or equivalent) and Hong Kong Mile double in the same year – following Beauty Generation (2018), Beauty Only (2016), Able Friend (2014), Good Ba Ba (2007) and Lucky Owners (2003).

Hong Kong-trained horses have won 14 of the past 20 Hong Kong Mile while Japan boasts four victories and three of that country’s winner came via the Mile Championship.


Furore proves previous win no fluke to lead Cruz one-two in G2 Jockey Club Cup

Furore overhauls Exultant in the G2 Jockey Club Cup. Photo by HKJC.

News

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

22/11/2020

By Declan Schuster, for the HKJC.

 

A classy win by Furore today proved his second-up success over Exultant was no fluke as he did it again to lead home a one-two for trainer Tony Cruz in today’s (Sunday, 22 November) HK$4.5 million G2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin.

Furore ended a 19 month winless streak last start, in the G3 Sa Sa Ladies Purse Handicap (1800m), when he overhauled his five-time G1 winning stablemate and today he repeated the dose – once again as second favourite to Exultant.

Today’s clash however, is the pair’s final for the calendar year and it served as a preview of the strong hand that Cruz holds ahead of December’s LONGINES Hong Kong International Races, as the handler confirmed his duo’s respective targets at Sha Tin’s HK$95 million showcase.

“I’m glad they’re not in the same race – Exultant will be in the Vase and Furore will be in the Cup,” Cruz confirmed, “we’ll go straight into the International Races with them – we are ready.”

Furore contests a second G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) after finishing fourth last year while Exultant bids to recapture the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) crown he won in 2018 before finishing third last year.

Today, Brazilian ace Joao Moreira had Furore in a forward position, following the third of Cruz’s three, Time Warp (128lb) throughout the race before peeling out to hit the lead aboard the 2019 BMW Hong Kong Derby winner for a comfortable G2 success with plenty left up his sleeve.

“Time Warp was drawn one, and Furore was drawn three, I said just follow him – everything all went to plan,” Cruz said.

The win today was Cruz’s fifth Jockey Club success – his first came with Hello Pretty in 2006, but it was Moreira’s first, who earlier, claimed a second G2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) victory with Hot King Prawn.

“He travelled very kind, he had the cover that we were hoping for and the pace was quite genuine and when I gave him a clear run, they started to come back and he just kept running and showing his quality.

“He ran away to win very impressively and easy – I can say that he crossed the finish line with plenty left in himself, it gets me so excited for the big day in December,” Moreira said.

Moreira takes his record to two pairings for two wins aboard the bay gelding and he is looking forward to a third in the HK$28 million 2000m contest on 13 December.

“I  have just done my job, which wasn’t very difficult – good horses make jockeys’ lives much easier and I just haven’t got a word to describe the feeling of being on board such a nice horse leading up to the big day in December,” Moreira said.

Furore’s win was the gelding’s fourth, and second in seven runs for handler Tony Cruz, who is aiming for an 11th success at next month’s Hong Kong International Races.

“The horse had some issues, so once you sort that out, it’s a different horse altogether,” Cruz admitted.

Moreira credited Cruz for the gelding’s current run of form: “I’ve been asked what the key about this horse is but there is no key, I just got on him at the right time, he’s flying and he’s shown how much class he has got and how well Tony Cruz has got him going at the moment,” he said.

One-time Derby aspirant Columbus County (123lb) finished off nicely for third after switching for an outside run, while Dances With Dragon (123lb) filled fourth with a further two and a quarter length break to the rest.

Moreira’s win on Furore was the third of a running treble as the Brazilian ace previously kicked off his three with Hot King Prawn in the G2 Jockey Club Sprint before the Caspar Fownes-trained Winning Delight charged home to land the Class 2 Victoria Park Handicap (1800m).

Hong Kong racing continues this Wednesday (25 November) at Happy Valley.