By David Morgan, Hong Kong Jockey Club
Amazing Star put in a dazzling performance to take the Class 2 Stubbs Handicap (1200m) at Happy Valley tonight (Wednesday, 29 January) and continue the fine form of trainer Jimmy Ting.
The improving five-year-old destroyed his rivals; a fast break to lead, followed by a strong middle section, had them working hard to keep tabs, and a determined drive to the line sealed a length and three-quarter success for the 1.4 favourite.
“He’s been going well this season and he did it the hard way tonight from a wide gate (12),” jockey Zac Purton said. “He had to do some work early and had pressure applied to him again at the 600 (metres) but he kicked away nicely and did a good job.
But while the rider was pleased, he offered a note of caution for the future.
“He didn’t have much left tonight so he needs to come on from that,” he said.
Ting, with eight wins from the last seven race meetings, was a tad taken aback by the manner of Amazing Star’s victory in a time of 1m 08.99s (23.37, 22.04, 23.58).
“Amazing – Amazing Star!” he said. “The horse was in better form last time he ran. This time he was a bit fat, for him, but he won so easily, so I was a bit surprised with how he did that.”
Amazing Star tipped the scales pre-race at 1188lb, his heaviest racing weight and 11lb up on his previous win back in December. But the extra pounds didn’t blunt the Darci Brahma gelding’s speed as he made it a hat-trick for the season so far.
“He’s a very fast horse but it was his first time in Class 2 so I was afraid he’d have horses chasing him, but we were lucky that no horses could,” Ting noted.
“At this stage there’s a race on 26 February but I don’t know whether I’ll run him or not; I’ll talk to the jockey and see what he says – I just need to see if the horse is in good form or not.”
Amazing Star’s win sealed doubles for Ting and Purton. The champion jockey kicked off with Shouson while the handler was also on the mark with Golden Glory.
Shouson was a warm order in the opener, section one of the Class 4 Kennedy Handicap (1200m), and justified his 1.9 odds with an easy success. The John Moore-trained galloper burst clear with 200m to go and kept on well until Purton eased him through the final few strides to pass the post a length to the good.
Golden Glory was runner-up to Shouson last time out and the form stood up well as the Ting-trained nine-year-old boxed on determinedly to score by two lengths under Silvestre de Sousa in section two of the Class 4 Kennedy Handicap (1200m).
Albert ends So’s wait
Chris So ended a run of 56 days and 84 runners without a winner, stretching back to 4 December, when Master Albert put his best foot forward in section three of the Class 4 Kennedy Handicap (1200m).
— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) January 29, 2020
“Finally!” the trainer said. “Over a month with no winner; we have to keep going, that’s racing. Sometimes the draw is no good and things don’t go your way.”
Karis Teetan has stuck with the six-year-old through eight starts this term and has never placed outside the top five, with six top four finishes prior to this evening’s score – the gelding’s second win at start 33.
“This horse has just been knocking on the door, he’s still in good form and we keep going,” So added.
Teetan was in California dreamland as he landed a treble thanks to the Tony Cruz-trained pair California Legend and Californiadeepshot.
The Mauritian punched the air when the latter – a two from two winner at Kembla Grange pre-import – passed the post a length and a half clear in the Class 3 Queen’s Road East Handicap (1200m) for an impressive debut win.
“He’s been trialling good, he’s won both races overseas – I thought it might be tricky with the draw (12) but I had to be very confident, I had to make him understand everything about racing,” Teetan said after Californiadeepshot had surged to the lead, settled into a rhythm and then kicked decisively for the line.
“He’d been to Happy Valley to trial so he knew what to expect, but what surprised me was how quickly he got that rail and that’s what won him the race. Once he got it he switched off underneath me until I needed him to quicken.”
The middle leg of Teetan’s trio came on the tough California Legend (121lb) who set the pace, battled on down the straight and held the late-closing Dionysus Collin (119lb) by half a length to take the Class 4 Oi Kwan Handicap (1800m).
Cinq makes two for Moreira
Joao Moreira completed a double when he delivered Cinquante Cinq through a sweet, cutting run to take the night’s silverware, the Class 3 Volunteers’ Challenge Cup Handicap (1650m).
Benno Yung’s charge went off the 2.1 favourite but Moreira was last-but-one and waiting on a split as the field of 12 took the home turn. When the runners fanned, the cool rider angled inward for an opening and his mount quickened powerfully to hit the lead 100m out, scoring handsomely by two lengths.
“I was very lucky to get a split on the inside, it opened beautifully for me and he didn’t just win, he won very impressively so he deserves some respect,” Moreira said.
And the rider believes the manner of that success indicates that the lightly-raced five-year-old – two wins from eight career starts – might cope with a rise to Class 2.
“He’s done it very well today and off a light weight he might give it a shot,” he said. “He showed a lot of gate speed for me and I wasn’t sure how we were going to handle it because Benno said he would like me to ride him a little bit quiet, but I was going to end up three-wide so I kept bringing him back and back.
“Good horses do what he’s done, he relaxed nicely, responded to my indications and when I got there in a comfortable position I could feel like he was coming strong to the end.”
Moreira teamed up with Frankie Lor for an earlier success when Blooming Spirit overcame top-weight of 133lb to land the Class 5 Morrison Hill Handicap, his first win at the 13th attempt and his first outing at 1650m.
The finale, the Class 2 Tin Lok Handicap (1650m), went to the Richard Gibson-trained Harmony Hero (118lb). The five-year-old surged down the rail to overhaul BMW Hong Kong Derby entrant Reliable Team (121lb) by three-quarters of a length.
Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday, 2 February.