Ep 3: Moreira clears the air. What's next for Schofield? Dye's Genius & Slaughter

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Jason Tan

HUTCHI'S HONKERS MANAGER

Episode 3: Moreira clears the air. What’s next for Schofield? Dye’s Genius & Slaughter.

Brought to you by www.hutchishonkers.com, meet the experts, those who know, and join them on the journey towards the 2021 Hong Kong International Races.

Hosted by Jason Richardson, Hutchi and R S Dye are joined by Chad Schofield and Joao Moreira!

**This Week:**

  1. Racing Takeaway: The Japan Cup, how significant to HKIR week is the race?
  2. Star Power I: Chad Schofield is leaving Hong Kong – why?
  3. Genius or Slaughter: What rides has R S Dye found this week, for the ‘Ocky’ and ‘Veandercross’?
  4. HK Racing School: When 15 tracks go into two tracks.
  5. Star Power II: Joao Moreira opens up on his season so far.
  6. HKIR Week: Hutchi gives the best mounts for the International Jockeys’ Championship.
  7. Sunday is for Hong Kong Racing: Get the best bets from Hutchi and R S Dye.

 

 

⬇️Watch Now⬇️

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Courier Wonder pleases Moreira ahead of LONGINES HKIR

Courier Wonder cruises to the line at Sha Tin. Photo by HKJC.

News

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

03/12/2021

By Leo Schlink, for the HKJC.

 

Bidding to capitalise on formidable recent form, Joao Moreira is confident Courier Wonder will prove more tractable in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) on Sunday week (12 December) despite the talented gelding’s waywardness under pressure in last-start defeat.

Unbeaten in five starts last season, Courier Wonder has had his colours lowered twice this campaign but Moreira retains complete faith in the son of Sacred Falls, who ran about under when challenged late when fifth to Lucky Patch in the G2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) on 21 November.

Speaking after Courier Wonder breezed into second place in a 1200m trial to The Golden Scenery at Sha Tin this morning (3 December), Moreira believes Hong Kong’s Most Improved Horse last season is now better prepared to cope with extreme pressure.

“Last time, he wasn’t straight-forward. He had never had that experience (of being pressured) before and he didn’t cope with it very well, but we also learnt more about the horse and we’re very confident he can deliver what he has,” Moreira said.

“He seems normal, he’s not a complicated horse. But he caught us off-guard the other day when he snaked around and he didn’t know what to do, but I don’t really think he’s going to do it again.

 

“He’s a very professional horse and no doubt I am looking forward to riding him because I have high hopes about him.”

Courier Wonder showed trademark speed in this morning’s workout before Moreira allowed the four-year-old to idle to the line as Tony Cruz’s The Golden Scenery closed impressively while clocking 1m 09.82s for the six-furlong journey.

Fellow Hong Kong Sprint aspirant Hot King Prawn crossed in fourth place in the same trial, five and a half lengths behind The Golden Scenery, while Tourbillon Diamond (G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup, 2000m) finished fifth under Alexis Badel, beaten six and a half lengths.

G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile entrant Waikuku showed his characteristic disinterest in trials, finishing ninth of 10 runners under Zac Purton, 14 and a quarter lengths from the winner.

With trebles at the past two meetings, Moreira has boosted his seasonal tally to 36, eight behind Zac Purton (44), and hopes another John Size-trained runner – unbeaten Pins Prince – can continue the trend in the Class 4 Onyx Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin this Sunday (5 December).

“He had shown to us that he had quality in his trials before his first race (13 November) and he has gone out and done it (won) in a way that we expected. It was very nice to get a win out of him first-up,” the Brazilian said.

“He’s feels like a horse that has got a lot of upside. He’s obviously not fully developed yet but there’s nothing like time to help horses gain experience. He’s a horse that can look around a little bit but race experience will help him with that.

 

Joao Moreira is intent on maintaining his winning spree this Sunday.
Joao Moreira is intent on maintaining his winning spree this Sunday.

 

“So far, he’s done everything right and hopefully he can go on the same way.”

Moreira’s arch-rival Purton has similar hopes for Paul O’Sullivan-trained Snowalot, also a last-start winner, in the Class 4 Garnet Handicap (1200m).

“Hopefully he can progress from his last start. He’s not the strongest-built horse so the weight rise (124lb to 133lb) is of some concern but you’ve just got to deal with it and hopefully he can handle it,” Purton said.

Casting further ahead to Happy Valley next Wednesday (8 December), Purton is excited about mounting a title defence at the LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship.

“It’s always great to have these riders here and have this competition. It’s a shame that with COVID we can’t have more supporters on track but it’s still going to be a great event and hopefully I can draw some nice horses and give myself a chance again,” the reigning IJC champion said.

Douglas Whyte is hopeful his dirt specialist Will Power can make a successful return in the Class 2 Carbine Club Of Hong Kong 30th Anniversary Cup (1200m, dirt).

Winner of six races over the distance and surface, Will Power has been off the scene since having bone chips removed from his nearside knee in June, but twice trialled encouragingly last month.

 

Will Power is after back-to-back wins on the dirt.
Will Power is after back-to-back wins on the dirt.

 

“He’s had some surgery on his knee and thankfully it’s been very successful. He’s had two trials since and both have been reasonably good to the eye,” Whyte said.

“He’s come back in good order. He’s put on a substantial amount of weight, which we have had to work off him. I would say the break has done him the world of good.

“It is his first run back so he’s going to be a bit ring rusty. I’m crossing my fingers that he gets back to his racing ways when he’s really done well.  He’s as honest as the day is long and he seems to thrive on dirt.”

Will Power will be ridden by Jerry Chau, who also takes the reins on Richard Gibson-trained Cordyceps Six in the Class 3 Opal Handicap (1000m).

“He has improved a lot, I think he’s a very good horse. I believe after the last race that he has improved again. He’s a very smart horse. Early in his career, we thought he was a leader, but we think now he likes following horses,” Chau said.

“A good gate (barrier 14) will help him this weekend. Super Fortune is a good horse and hopefully we can follow him.”

 

Chad Schofield celebrates the win of Rattan in the 2019 G2 Sprint Cup.
Chad Schofield celebrates the win of Rattan in the 2019 G2 Sprint Cup.

 

Chad Schofield will bow out of Hong Kong racing before he and his wife Hannah return to Australia for the birth of the couple’s first child when he partners The Multiplier for David Hayes in Class 4 Onyx Handicap (1400m).

“It’s a very hard decision to leave Hong Kong because I came here as a very young apprentice and have had some great times, so it’s sad to leave,” Schofield said.

“Riding here has definitely improved me and there are a lot of good memories. It’s been very enjoyable. I’ve loved being here and it will be a shock to the system to leave.”

Racing kicks off on Sunday with the Class 4 Amber Handicap (1800m, dirt) at 1pm.

For a preview of meeting watch Hong Kong Horse Racing with Richo, Hutchi and R S Dye, featuring Joao Moreira and Chad Schofield this week!

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Blake Shinn excited at LONGINES HKIR opportunities

Blake Shinn reunites with Excellent Proposal in Hong Kong Mile. Photo by HKJC.

News

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

03/12/2021

By Leo Schlink, for the HKJC.

 

Cast in the unwanted role of envious onlooker during the past two LONGINES Hong Kong International Race meetings, Blake Shinn will forge new territory on Sunday (12 December) when the Australian rides in three of the four G1 crowns at Sha Tin.

For the first time since moving to Hong Kong in 2019, Shinn will be in the thick of G1 LONGINES HKIR action as he partners Sky Field in the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m), Excellent Proposal in the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) and Russian Emperor in the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m).

At 34, and after being unable to gain a ride over the past two seasons in any of the four glittering LONGINES G1s, Shinn is elated to have secured not just one quality mount, but three.

“It does mean a great deal, it’s a culmination of a lot of hard work. It shows to me that I’m riding well and I’m starting to get respect and that’s important. In Hong Kong, it’s a tough environment,” the Melbourne Cup-winning rider said.

“You’ve got to earn your stripes and you got to show people that you can get the job done as well in Hong Kong. To get three Group 1 rides at the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races is years in the making.

“But I’ll be a lot happier if we can win a race on the day – getting rides is just the first part.”

Aiming to better the 24 wins he posted last season, Shinn has seven victories in 2021/22 and is hopeful his trackwork dedication will continue to pay off.

“It’s been a hard journey but everyone who comes to Hong Kong has to put in the hard work to reap the rewards,” he said.

 

Blake Shinn wins the Classic Mile on Excellent Proposal.
Blake Shinn wins the Classic Mile on Excellent Proposal.

 

“I just feel really proud to knuckle down for this long and it’s starting to pay dividends now. You’ve got to earn your stripes in Hong Kong and I feel that’s starting to happen now.

“To have three rides on the biggest day in Hong Kong is a pretty proud moment and I’d be even prouder if I could win one of them.”

Caspar Fownes-trained Sky Field gave Shinn G3 success in the Premier Cup Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin last season and the former star apprentice is optimistic the chestnut can deliver at the highest level on Sunday week.

“I believe Sky Field is my best chance. He’s proved that he’s up to Group 1 level, he’s been placed behind Wellington. He’s been running well all season, except one run where we had excuses.

“He’s a Group 1 horse and in an open race, he’s a live shot,” he said, before expressing excitement over reuniting with John Size’s Excellent Proposal.

“Excellent Proposal has done nothing wrong this prep. I won a Classic Mile on him last season and he’s returned in good order. If there’s a chink in Golden Sixty’s armour, a horse like this might be able to find it. He’s a got a sense of timing about him,” Shinn said.

Shinn will ride BMW Hong Kong Derby second place-getter Russian Emperor for the second time, optimistic the regally-bred stayer can acquit himself strongly against class international foes.

“Russian Emperor, it was a kind of nothing run last start. You’ve got to put a line through it. The horse felt great. He ran second in the Hong Kong Derby last year, so he’s a quality horse.

“If it’s a genuinely-run race, he’ll be right in it,” Shinn said.

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Joao Moreira builds impressive momentum with Happy Valley treble

Fantastic Treasure bids to return to the winners’ list. Photo by HKJC.

News

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

02/12/2021

By Leo Schlink, for the HKJC.

 

Joao Moreira’s stunning recent form has continued after the Brazilian notched a second treble in four days, further reducing Zac Purton’s lead in the Hong Kong jockeys’ championship at Happy Valley on Wednesday (1 December).

Trailing by nine winners heading into the 24th meeting of the season, Moreira’s treble aboard Super Hong Kong, A Smile Like Yours and Tianchi Monster enabled the reigning champion to claw the deficit back to eight as Purton pocketed a double.

“Any jockey would like to be riding three winners a day,” Moreira smiled. “But it’s just too difficult, especially in Hong Kong where the races are so tight. There isn’t much between the horses racing out there.

“I want to make sure that I keep on doing well. If I want to be competitive, I have to do my job properly and that’s what I’ve been trying to do – ride as well as I can and get on the best horses.”

Moreira combined with three different trainers – John Size, Tony Millard and Chris So – in marking the 11th successive meeting that he has ridden at least one winner.

Bristling with confidence after Sunday’s (28 November) Sha Tin treble, Moreira united with Size to land the Class 4 Hong Kong Golf Club Centenary Cup Handicap (1200) aboard A Smile Like Yours.

Having his seventh start of the season, the Per Incanto gelding logged his third win of the campaign as the Size and Moreira juggernauts continued to build telling impetus.

The four-time champion rider also profited from Millard’s decision to drop Super Hong Kong back from 2200m when the Kermadec gelding broke through at his 10th start to snare the Class 5 Nightjar Handicap (1800m).

Having his third start for the season, the gelding unleashed a sustained run to down Success Allstars and Wah May Luck.

Purton boosted his tally for the campaign to 44 wins, compared to Moreira’s 36, by sharing a brace with David Hayes, who banished the memories of a desolate November with a double of his own.

Hayes had just one winner last month – Red Majesty – and 11 minor placings, but the dual Hong Kong champion trainer’s exasperation was salved with Awe’s emphatic success in the Class 4 Frigatebird Handicap (2200m) under a sublime ride by Purton.

“He is a horse who was bought to Hong Kong as a miler, but he’s not fast enough for Hong Kong at that distance but at 2200m, I think he can be a good handicapper. It’s a big help having Zac Purton on,” Hayes said.

Improving his tally to 17 winners for the season – eight adrift of Frankie Lor – Hayes left Happy Valley with a spring in his step after another masterful ride from Purton enabled Poised To Strike to prevail in the third section of the Albatross Handicap (1200m).

“He got the monkey of his back and I think Zac Purton was a big help, it was wonderful ride. This horse, for the first year I was here last year, he wouldn’t eat and he had stomach ulcers. So, we’ve got on top of the stomach ulcers and we’re hoping now that he might be able to put a couple of wins together, especially at this track – I don’t think he’s really a Sha Tin horse,” Hayes said.

“I think I had a lot of placings without a winner in November. I know I didn’t have many winners but I had a lot of horses running well, so we weren’t panicking. I think December will improve a bit and I’m expecting the new blood to start coming through after January and then I reckon I’ll be strong again.”

Joyful Win cemented his reputation as a Happy Valley speed course specialist with victory in the Class 3 Robin Handicap (1000m) – the Shooting To Win gelding’s fourth triumph over the five-furlong course at the city circuit.

“He’s an expert at it,” Yiu beamed after logging his stable’s seventh success for the campaign. “He just keeps on improving. He’s the type of horse who wants to please you and always tries his hardest.”

Alfred Chan combined successfully with Douglas Whyte-trained Universal Crown to win the Class 5 Mesia Handicap (1000m).

Frankie Lor attributes Smart Idea’s success to growing maturity after the three-year-old claimed the first section of the Class 4 Albatross Handicap (1200m) under Harry Bentley.

“Last season, he was still learning as a two-year-old,” Lor said. “Tonight, he did everything right even though he was three-deep. I think he has more to offer.

“Harry is a young jockey who is good for us. He always tries hard.”

Michael Chang and Antoine Hamelin closed the meeting in style when Family Folks powered to victory in the Class 3 Tern Handicap (1200m), leaving both the trainer and jockey with their fifth wins of the campaign.

Hong Kong horseracing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday (5 December).

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Strong Japanese delegation at 2021 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races

Glory Vase is looking to win a second G1 at Sha Tin. Photo by HKJC.

News

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

30/11/2021

Naohiro Goda, for the HKJC.

 

Japan is sending elite troops formed by 12 selected runners to the 2021 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin on Sunday, 12 December.

The dozen expected to represent Japan’s second biggest delegation will shuttle across to Hong Kong after 13 made the journey in 2016.

This year, two feature in the HK$20 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m), three in the HK$24 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m), four in the HK$26 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) and three in the HK$30 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m).

As far as the quality of entrants selected for Team Japan, I believe this year’s contingent for the 2021 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races is the strongest ever.

Japan won the Vase and Cup in 2016 and I am of the opinion that this year’s team can collect the same number once more. Tomohito Ozeki’s Glory Vase bids for a second Vase after winning the race in 2019 when he overwhelmed a tremendously strong field which included Exultant, Hong Kong’s Horse of the Year in 2019/20.

A six-year-old now, Glory Vase finished second in the G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) earlier this year to Loves Only You and, despite the distance being too short of his best, he showed that Sha Tin is his favourite course.

After finishing third in the G2 Sankei Sho All Comers Stakes at Nakayama in late September, he skipped both the G1 Tenno Sho Autumn (2000m) and G1 Japan Cup (2400m) in favour of the Vase, training beautifully at the Miho Training Centre.

Although his current rating is 120, he earned 125 when he won the Vase in 2019 and 123 when he finished fifth in the 2020 Japan Cup. I am sure Glory Vase has maintained his top form and his ability should be higher than his current rating.

Shadai Racing’s Stay Foolish is by Stay Gold, winner of the 2001 Hong Kong Vase for the same owners when becoming the first ever Japanese-bred runner to win a Stakes race abroad.

Stay Foolish, a six-year-old, is trained by Yoshito Yahagi – who recently made history by saddling the first Japanese-trained winners in the 38-year history of the Breeders’ Cup.

It is encouraging to see that Stay Foolish will be ridden by Vincent Ho, one of Hong Kong’s best homegrown jockeys and the pair will unite in the Hong Kong Vase.

It is common knowledge that the standard of current three-year-olds in Japan is very high and this year’s bunch is a vintage crop.

The flag bearer for Japan’s three-year-olds headed for Hong Kong is Pixie Knight, winner of the G1 Sprinters Stakes (2021) at Nakayama to become the first three-year-old winner of the most prestigious race for sprinters in Japan since Aston Machan in 2007.

Pixie Knight wins the 2021 G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) at Nakayama. Via JRA YouTube.

 

The colt, trained by Hidetaka Otonashi, is by Maurice, who was three for three at Sha Tin, winning the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) in 2015, G1 Champions Mile (1600m) in 2016, and G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) in 2016.

Not just incredibly talented, I am sure Pixie Knight has inherited the suitability for the track at Sha Tin from his sire.

This is Danon Smash’s fourth trip to Hong Kong and he will try to achieve back-to-back wins in the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint, which is exactly what his sire – Lord Kanaloa – achieved in 2012 and 2013. Although he was disappointing when sixth in both the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) at Sha Tin in April and Sprinters Stakes in October, he has been trained well recently at Ritto Training Centre and I believe he can bounce back.

Resistencia was one of the best milers of her generation at two and three, winning G1 Hanshin Juvenile (1600m) and finishing second in G1 Oka Sho (1600m) and G1 NHK Mile Cup (1600m). Even though, connections decided to change route this year, cutting back the distance, it has proven to be working well.

The four-year-old filly by Daiwa Major finished second in both the G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1200m) at Chukyo in March and Sprinters Stakes. Daiwa Major is the sire of Admire Mars, who won the Hong Kong Mile in 2019 and I believe Resistencia will be able to handle the track at Sha Tin well.

I have the impression that 2021 Hong Kong Mile could be a “one horse race”, as the field includes Golden Sixty, a super star in Hong Kong who is unbeaten in 15 starts since September of 2019. Even though Japan has bravely entered four for the Mile, I reckon the best hope among them is Danon Kingly.

Danon Kingly wins the 2021 G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) at Tokyo. Via JRA YouTube.

 

He was an impressive winner of the G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) at Tokyo in June, when he held off the late challenge by Gran Alegria – the winner of six G1s – including the G1 Mile Championship (1600m) at Hanshin on 21 November.

Danon Kingly finished second in G2 Mainichi Okan (1800m) at Tokyo in October at his most recent start, narrowly beaten by Schnell Meister who was only three quarters of a length behind Gran Alegria in G1 Mile Championship.

Arguably, Danon Kingly is one of the best milers in Japan.

Indy Champ was fourth in the Mile Championship at Hanshin on 21 November, which I judge as a good effort after he suffered a minor training setback in summer and he was making his first start since the Yasuda Kinen in June.

As a result, I understand the Mile Championship was an ideal prep race for Hong Kong.

Pedigree suggests that Indy Champ should act well at Sha Tin, as he too is by Stay Gold, the 2001 Vase winner, just like Win Bright who collected a historic double in 2019 at Sha Tin when winning the FWD QEII Cup in April and Hong Kong Cup in December.

Although Vin de Garde was disappointing for 12th in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile (1600m) at Del Mar in November, he dwelt at start and his position was too far back, while the tempo was very slow.

I believe we can forget about this poor performance. It is still a fresh memory for us that the five-year-old horse by Deep Impact finished second to Lord North in the 2021 G1 Dubai Turf (1800m) at Meydan. Lord North was a top-class victor of G1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes (2004m) at Royal Ascot in 2020 before that and if Vin de Garde reproduces his form from Dubai at Sha Tin, he should have a chance at springing an upset.

Vin de Garde finishes second to Lord North at Meydan. Via BloodHorse YouTube & Dubai Racing Club.

 

I think Salios might be the “forgotten horse”, as his recent form is lacklustre. However, it must be remembered that he won the 2019 G1 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes over 1600m and finished second to Contrail in both the G1 Satsuki Sho (2000m) and G1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, 2400m).

Japan has won four of the last six runnings of Hong Kong Cup – the feature race of Hong Kong International Races which carries a total purse of HK$30 million.

As well as Golden Sixty in the Mile, I believe another featuring star at the 2021 Hong Kong International Races is Loves Only You in the Cup.

In fact, this is the swansong for the winner of 2019 G1 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, 2400m), 2021 FWD QEII Cup at Sha Tin and Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Del Mar.

All involved in horse racing and breeding in Japan expect to witness a happy ending to the career of the great globe-trotting race mare.

Lei Papale won the G1 Osaka Hai (2000m) at Hanshin in April by four lengths, beating a strong field which included Contrail and following this she was regarded very highly as the next super star.

Lei Papale wins the 2021 Osaka Hai. Via JRA YouTube.

 

However since then, Lei Papale has been beaten three times in a row.

The distance of her last three starts was 2200m, which is slightly too far for the four-year-old filly by Deep Impact. Lei Papale should run her race in the Hong Kong Cup over 2000m – which is no doubt the best trip for her.

Hishi Iguazu finished fifth in the Tenno Sho Autumn at Tokyo in October and I believe it was a good effort, because he suffered a series of setbacks and it was his first start since winning the G2 Nakayama Kinen (1800m) in February.

Much like the Mile Championship was Indy Champ’s prep race for Hong Kong, I understand Tenno Sho Autumn also the ideal prep race for Hishi Iguazu ahead of the Hong Kong Cup.

Not to mention, he is trained by Noriyuki Hori, the master trainer who trained Maurice, Satono Crown and Neorealism, all of whom are winners of international G1s at Sha Tin.

 

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Sky Field trials at Sha Tin, all systems go for LONGINES Hong Kong Sprin

Sky Field is a five-time winner from 17 starts in Hong Kong. Photo by HKJC.

News

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

30/11/2021

By Declan Schuster, for the HKJC.

 

Caspar Fownes has always had high hopes of Sky Field and in Sunday week’s (12 December) G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) the handler is banking on consistency and a bit of luck as the classy chestnut targets a first scalp at the top-level.

“I’m sure he’ll give us a big run, he was a bit unlucky last start – it was a bit tight for a gap there and he was impeded but he still showed a pretty good kick over the last 100 (metres). I think once we get to the ‘A’ Course with him that he’s definitely going to be a first-three chance on the big day,” Fownes said at trackwork this morning.

Stepping out for a barrier trial this morning (30 November) on the dirt at Sha Tin, the Deep Field gelding looked in fine fettle under Blake Shinn, pulling fiercely to clock a hard-held 1m 10.76s behind War Weapon and Gallant Crown, respectively.

“It backfired a bit, I put the cups (blinkers) on him in the hope that he would come out and switch off but he wanted to do his own thing, although it doesn’t matter, he’s a very fit horse and he’s a very consistent horse,” Fownes said of the five-year-old.

A winner at G3 level in last season’s Premier Cup Handicap (1400m), the 119-rater also finished third in the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) to Wellington.

“No blinkers in the big race, he won’t have the blinkers on – he’s a fit horse and he’ll be running well,” Fownes said.

Sky Field boasts two placings this term, first-up he was a narrow second in the G3 National Day Cup Handicap (1000m) before his last-start third to Lucky Patch in the G2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m).

The chestnut was crowded for room at crucial stages on the inside but still managed to clock the second-fastest last 400m (22.12s) behind only Naboo Attack (21.83s) in the Jockey Club Sprint.

A regular presence at Conghua, Sky Field will remain at Sha Tin with Fownes until the race.

“He’s here at Sha Tin, we have 10 days left and we’re all here now, so it’s game on.”

 

Tomorrow night (Wednesday, 1 December) at Happy Valley, Fownes has six entered across the nine-race fixture, including Fast Pace in the Class 3 Sand Martin Handicap (1800m) bidding for back-to-back wins.

“He’s in good form, obviously he’s up in class now but he showed us last season that he’s competitive in Class 3, so he could probably snag a place, it’ll be tough to be winning again I would say though,” Fownes said.

The six-year-old Hong Kong International Sale graduate is a four-time winner in Hong Kong – twice this season over 1800m at Happy Valley in Class 4.

“He’s always been consistent and he’s a big, strong horse, even though he’s drawn out in the carpark I think the 1800 (metres) will give him the chance to get a position throughout,” the handler said.

The Savabeel gelding’s last two runs came within four days of each other, saluting on the quick back-up by a half-length when making all.

Wednesday’s (1 December) nine-race fixture at Happy Valley kicks off at 6.45pm with the Class 4 Frigatebird Handicap (2200m).

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McDonald in hot form as he prepares for LONGINES IJC

Fantastic Treasure bids to return to the winners’ list. Photo by HKJC.

News

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

30/11/2021

Steve Moran, for the HKJC.

 

Nobody should be surprised at the seemingly endless list of credits which adorn jockey James McDonald’s resume. After all, he rode his first Group 1 winner at just sixteen years of age.

Next month, he comes to Hong Kong in a bid to add a first LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship (IJC) win, on 8 December, to a highlights reel which was boosted this month with a breakthrough win in the G1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) and a record ten winners during the four Flemington meetings of Melbourne Cup week.

In a star-studded LONGINES IJC line-up, he will arrive as arguably the man in the hottest form. He sits third on the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) and LONGINES World’s Best Jockey rankings (based on selected Group 1 races) behind LONGINES IJC rival Ryan Moore and is number one, currently, on the Thoroughbred Racing Commentary (TRC) Global Jockey Rankings.

Five Group 1 wins this season takes his career tally to 59, achieved in just 13 years since his maiden top level win on Special Mission in the G1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes (1600m) in 2008 which came in his first season of riding. His first Group 1 win in Australia was aboard Scarlett Lady in the 2011 Queensland Oaks (2200m) and that was before his permanent relocation from New Zealand.

At just 20, aboard Fiorente in the Melbourne Cup, he defied all bar his childhood hero Brett Prebble on Green Moon. This year, the tables were turned with McDonald’s mount Verry Elleegant beating Prebble aboard Incentivise and it was Prebble’s Cup week record of nine winners which was eclipsed by the jockey known simply as JMac.

He’s ridden almost 1,800 winners and has been champion jockey in Sydney on five occasions.

Such is his form that former champion jockey Malcolm Johnston recently predicted that McDonald will break all the riding records.

“The biggest asset any racehorse can have is James McDonald,’’ Johnston said.

For good measure, earlier this year, McDonald became the youngest person ever inducted into the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame.

McDonald is no stranger to Hong Kong racing. He finished second on debut, to none other than Frankie Dettori, in the 2011 IJC and finished third in 2014.

In between, he flew in overnight from Sydney to win the 2012 G1 Champions Mile on the John Moore-trained Xtension. “The way James rode him was the best ride you’ve ever seen!” Moore said at the time.

McDonald, perhaps with a dose of diplomacy and good grace beyond his years, then said that as a first-year apprentice he’d said that a Group 1 race in Hong Kong was among those he’d most want to win.

“As a kid I always dreamed of riding in a country like this and with the calibre of jockeys and horses here, it’s a real privilege,” McDonald was quoted at the time.

The Melbourne Cup was also on the then youngster’s wish list and he was overwhelmed to win it this year. “I just didn’t think this would ever happen,” he said in an emotional post-race interview.

“It was huge for him,” his manager Mark Guest said. “James said to me, that night, it was bigger than he ever imagined it would be as a youngster growing up or while riding in the famous race in recent years.”

Guest explained that McDonald regrets he will be unable to stay for the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races as he is committed to ride exciting two-year-old Coolangatta in the G3 B.J. McLachlan Stakes (1200m) at Doomben, on 26 December, in Queensland and that state still demands 14-day quarantine for overseas arrivals.

“James is disappointed. It’s a real shame, especially as he misses by just one day but he’s pumped for the IJC and loves going to Hong Kong. I know he’d love to win it after going close a couple of times,” Guest said.

McDonald’s talent certainly blossomed early but whether, at 16, he’s the youngest rider to win a Group 1 race since the pattern was introduced in 1971 is impossible to say given that precise records are not available in all jurisdictions.

However, to provide some context it was not until the age of 23 that either Zac Purton or Hugh Bowman landed a Group 1 while Darren Gauci – considered the most precocious of Australian apprentices in the modern era – was 17 when he won his first.

 

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John Size, Joao Moreira post trebles as Vagner Borges strikes with Silver Express in Chevalier Cup

Silver Express takes the feature under Borges. Photo by HKJC.

News

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

29/11/2021

By Leo Schlink, for the HKJC.

 

An inspired Vagner Borges ride provided John Size with his fourth Class 1 Chevalier Cup Handicap (1600m) triumph at Sha Tin on Sunday (28 November), while the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) on 12 December remains firmly on the agenda for Size’s luckless runner-up and stablemate Excellent Proposal.

Given a seamless run by Borges, Silver Express had a length and a quarter to spare from Excellent Proposal, but Joao Moreira was convinced Excellent Proposal should have probably won the race after failing to obtain a run between Buddies and Kings Shield in the straight.

“On the top of the straight I was calling for a run and I end up getting checked but the horse’s performance itself was outstanding because, even having to go back, he dashes home to run a very good second, so I was happy with that,” said Moreira, who finished the meeting with a treble.

Size will press ahead to the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile with Excellent Proposal and Lucky Express, who finished sixth, but has more modest plans for Silver Express, who joins former Size charges Electronic Unicorn (2001), Danacourt (2005) and Fulfil A Wish (2012) as a Chevalier Cup victor.

“Well, he hasn’t got the handicap for it (LONGINES Hong Kong International Races) really and I’m not too concerned about that, I can find another race for him,” Size said of Silver Express before confirming Excellent Proposal and Lucky Express would remain on course for a clash with Golden Sixty in two weeks.

“At first watch, it looked like Excellent Proposal was unlucky and then I’ll see how the other one (Lucky Express) is,” he said.

Butterfield, who will contest the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) on 12 December, was strong under Blake Shinn to narrowly miss second place behind Excellent Proposal for Danny Shum.

Borges, 28, has forged a fruitful partnership this season with Size, notching multiple victories with Sight Success but the success with Silver Express is clearly the Brazilian’s most significant achievement for the 11-time champion trainer.

“It’s very important to have this win. I’m very happy with the win, also very happy with the horse,” Borges said. “I’m very happy. I’m thankful for Mr Size for his support, he’s a pleasure to ride for. He’s a legendary trainer in Hong Kong.

“I’m grateful to be in Hong Kong and I feel very fortunate to win a race such as this. The horse ran very well.”

Size improved his season’s tally to 15 after the impressive wins of Sight Spirit and Blaze Warrior, both for Moreira.

Sight Spirit won emphatically to prevail in the Class 4 Chevalier Healthcare Investment Handicap (1400m), clocking a slick 1m 21s in the process, prompting praise from his rider.

Moreira said: “He’s a young horse who, we thought by now, would have won his races and he had been giving us some disappointment, but today wasn’t that day.

“What we expected him to do in his first few runs in Hong Kong, he’s done it today. His trials had been outstanding but he hadn’t been able to produce it until today. The way how he won makes me comfortable to think there are more wins to come.”

The four-time champion jockey was also taken with the performance of Blaze Warrior in the Class 2 Chevalier Property Investment Handicap (1400m).

“Once again, he proved to be a classy horse, winning very impressively, so I think what he’s done so far gets him a credit to be considered for the Four-Year-Old Classic Series. “He’s a nice horse with a bright future.”

Moreira also triumphed atop Ricky Yiu’s Soulmate in the Class 3 Chevalier Lifts & Escalators Handicap (1600m).

Moreira now trails Zac Purton 42-33 in the jockeys’ championship after the Australian posted a double.

Purton combined with Me Tsui to snare the Class 4 Chevalier Aluminium Engineering Handicap (1000m) with Sparkling Dolphin, a son of Exceed And Excel. The win marked Tsui’s sixth success of the campaign.

Purton’s domination continued in the following race when Light Of Wanshi proved too strong while claiming the Class 4 Chevalier Car Dealership Handicap (1600m) for Chris So.

It was the Ocean Park gelding’s second victory in Hong Kong.

Jerry Chau’s effort to deliver Sunny Boy in the final strides saw the Star Witness gelding claim the Class 3 Chevalier Property Development & Operations Handicap (1200m), providing So with a brace.

Harry Bentley posted his first win since Sight Hero’s success on 6 October at Happy Valley when Frankie Lor’s Everyone’s Victory capitalised on a strong tempo to overtake leader and favourite Whizz Kid to snare the Chevalier Construction Handicap (1200, dirt).

“It was a good win, he’s been knocking on the door for a while actually. He’s a horse that closes really well, so the fact the pace was so quick in front gave me something to aim at and he was always going to catch the lead horse,” Bentley said, pocketing his fourth winner of the season.

“It’s been a while so this win is very much welcomed. So, hopefully I can get on a bit of a roll and it’s good to get a winner for Frankie.”

Tony Cruz and Vincent Ho shared a race-to-race double with Brave Power and California Concord, an achievement Cruz attributed to a pair of superb Ho rides.

A wide barrier proved no obstacle for Brave Power, who motored late under Ho to clinch the Chevalier E & M Engineering Handicap (1400m). It was the Declaration Of War gelding’s first triumph in 17 attempts.

“Brave Power, if he’s trapped between horses, he doesn’t accelerate. He’s got to be wide and you have to wind him up. Once he comes into the straight, he must see daylight and Vincent got it perfectly this way and that’s why he could finish this way,” Cruz said.

“If you are stuck in between horses and you try to make a move, he won’t accelerate. He’s got a big slow action.”

Ho continued a strong campaign with California Concord’s success in the Class 3 Chevalier Environmental Engineering Handicap (1200m).

“Vincent rode a perfect race on him, too. He waited long enough to press the button. He rode the perfect race, Vincent Ho – I’m very happy about that,” Cruz said.

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday (1 December).

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Ep 2: Zac Purton discusses trials, HK class system, Dye's Genius or Slaughter

News

Jason Tan

HUTCHI'S HONKERS MANAGER

Episode 2: Zac Purton, The Jockey Club Trials, and who’s coming to Hong Kong?

Brought to you by www.hutchishonkers.com, meet the experts, those who know, and join them on the journey towards the 2021 Hong Kong International Races.

Hosted by Jason Richardson.

Hong Kong jockey championship leader Zac Purton talks about his flying start to the season. How did Hutch assess the Jockey Club Trials? RS Dye nominates his “Ocky genius” and “Veandercross slaughter” rides of the week.

 

⬇️Watch Now⬇️

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Danny Shum passes 700 Hong Kong-win milestone; treble for Purton, doubles for Lor, Lui and Moreira

Romantic Warrior marks Danny Shum’s 700th Hong Kong win. Photo by HKJC.

News

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

25/11/2021

By Leo Schlink, for the HKJC.

 

Danny Shum celebrated his 700th Hong Kong winner in typically understated fashion when exciting talent Romantic Warrior won the second section of the Class 4 Murrayfield Handicap (1200m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (24 November).

A protégé of Ivan Allan and famed by Little Bridge’s 2012 G1 King’s Stand Stakes victory at Royal Ascot, Shum is one of the most respected horsemen in the sport and the milestone victory leaves him in elite company in Hong Kong.

Of the current trainers in the jurisdiction, only Tony Cruz (1,361), John Size (1,341), Caspar Fownes (974), Ricky Yiu (851), Dennis Yip (782) and Francis Lui (760) have trained more winners than Shum, while John Moore holds the overall record of 1,735.

Shum, 61, was characteristically modest about personal achievement as he contemplated Romantic Warrior’s future.

“It means I have to work harder, it’s not bad – but it’s not great for 18 years. It’s about 40 winners a season, I need to do better actually,” he said.

 

“He’s (Romantic Warrior) got a good turn of foot, he’s just very easy to control this horse – he’s very good. I’ll send him to Sha Tin now, I have to talk to Joao to see whether we got to 1200 (metres) or 1400.”

Joao Moreira, who notched a double on the programme but was eclipsed by Zac Purton’s treble, is bullish over Romantic Warrior’s prospects after producing a rail-hugging ride on the Hong Kong International Sale Graduate.

“It was very nice win. We expected him to be much closer, but he dashed home. He’s got a lot of ability. I think the handicapper will need some time to stop him winning races,” the Brazilian said.

Purton boosted his seasonal tally to 40 after John Size’s Scores Of Fun breezed to victory in the Class 2 Bruntsfield Handicap (1200m), adding to Purton’s earlier successes on Yee Cheong Warrior and Run The Table.

Alexis Badel guaranteed his place in the LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 8 December by driving Cheerful Days from last-to-first to snare the Class 3 Inverleith Park Handicap (1650m) for Francis Lui.

“That’s very cool, I knew I was in good form and I had the momentum, so it’s good to be ride in the competition (IJC) again and I am looking forward to it – it’s great,” the Frenchman said.

Badel, with 19 wins for the season, and Ho, the leading home-grown Hong Kong rider with 16 victories, join defending IJC champion Zac Purton, 2019/20 Hong Kong champion Joao Moreira, Britons Ryan Moore, Tom Marquand and Hollie Doyle, Frenchman Mickael Barzalona, Japan’s Yuga Kawada, New Zealand’s James McDonald and Australian Damian Lane in the HK$800,000 challenge.

Moreira and Frankie Lor combined with We The South, who again demonstrated a devastating affinity with the city circuit’s speed course with his sixth triumph over five furlongs – a two-length victory in the Class 3 Colinton Handicap (1000m).

“He likes it here over 1000 metres,” Lor said. “The track suits him and he seems to enjoy it.”

Lor celebrated a double – and his fifth winner from 11 starters – when Flaming Passion launched late to claim the first section of the Class 4 Murrayfield Handicap (1200m) for Matthew Chadwick.

The win left Lor with 23 victories for the campaign.

David Hall and Purton continued a productive liaison when the pair combined for a third win in two meetings when Yee Cheong Warrior snared the first section of the Class 4 Stockbridge Handicap (1650m).

“He ticked a lot of boxes tonight – the jockey and the barrier (gate one) – he had everything going for him tonight and he got the job done,” Hall said. “He’s rated well enough (45) that he can do it again.”

Riding in supreme form, Purton quickly notched a double when he piloted Francis Lui’s Run The Table from barrier 12 to one off the fence in fourth place before claiming the Class 5 Myreside Handicap (1650m).

Luke Ferraris credited his father David for Charizard’s slender victory in the Class 4 St Andrew’s Challenge Quaich Handicap (1650m) after the seven-year-old defied race-favourite Loyal Baby under Joao Moreira by a short head.

“All credit to Dad, he’s freshened him up really well. The horse is difficult to train. You’ve got to keep him fresh while keeping him fit without making him too flat – so, it’s a real balancing act,” Luke Ferraris said, noting the unique challenge of Hong Kong racing.

“Winning makes it all the more enjoyable, but it is one of the toughest jurisdictions to do well in. I’m pretty pleased at the way things are going. You always hope things could be better, but it’s nice to get a win.”

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday (November 28).

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