Trailing only Zac Purton in the Hong Kong jockeys’ championship, Karis Teetan hopes to enhance another productive season when he partners emerging talent Mugen in the HK$3.72 million Class 1 Chinese New Year Cup Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin on Monday (12 February) when the Mauritian takes a full book of rides.
With 43 wins so far, Teetan is second in the 2023/24 standings behind six-time champion Purton (63) after 44 meetings and hopes Pierre Ng stablemates Mugen and Galaxy Patch continue to make impressive headway.
Mugen (115lb) faces only five rivals in the afternoon’s feature – Courier Wonder (135lb), Duke Wai (131lb), Super Wealthy (131lb), Red Lion (125lb) and Running Glory (125lb) – and Teetan hopes the gelding can continue the form which has seen him notch three wins and a third from four placings this term.
“He’s taking on stronger horses again, but he goes in with a nice weight. It’s a small race and I think he’s going to have his chance,” Teetan said. “The speed is going to be a tactic in the race, but if he can get the right run – of course, he’s been doing very well this season – he should run well.”
Galaxy Patch contests the Class 2 Yue Yee Handicap (1200m) bidding for a fifth win from six starts this campaign but faces a field packed with quality gallopers, including Flying Ace and Howdeepisyourlove and three fellow last-start winners – Good Luck Friend, Majestic Knight and Bundle Of Charm.
“It’s going to be interesting to see him (Galaxy Patch) come back. He’s done everything right,” Teetan said. “His last trial was good. He’s getting better with time, so just looking forward to riding him again.”
By Wandjina, Galaxy Patch arrived in Hong Kong on a rating of 63 after winning his only Australian start for Will Clarken & Niki O’Shea at Morphettville, Adelaide when racing as Gulinga Spirit in January, 2023. The gelding has since risen to 96 in the handicap.
Dual champion Hong Kong trainer David Hayes rates his entry of nine runners as “probably one of the nicer teams of progressive horses I’ve saddled up during my second Hong Kong stint” and will saddle Running Glory in the Chinese New Year Cup Handicap.
“I know his form has been a bit off of late but he’s had a little holiday, put a bit of weight on and hopefully he’ll strip well fresh. He’s a good horse, we all know that. He was always going for this race,” Hayes said of the former John Size charge.
“He’s a very awkward horse to place because of his rating so I targeted this race from the moment I inherited him from John.”
With 21 wins and 52 minor placings from 248 runners, Hayes is optimistic his team can deliver on Monday with Storm Rider (Class 3 Kut Cheong Handicap, 1400m), Ka Ying Rising (Class 3 Prosperity Handicap, 1200m) and Master Mastermind (Class 4 Good Fortune Handicap, 1200m).
“Storm Rider has been very good, Ka Ying Rising will love looking up and not seeing Wunderbar and Master Mastermind ran very well first up – I think he’s a nice horse and he’s trialled well since,” Hayes said.
“Lucky Encounter (Class 2 Yue Yee Handicap) has also trialled well and he’s ready to run a good race. He looks well placed in that class now. He responded in the ear muffs, he was over-racing a bit, and his last run he relaxed and worked home. The last 200m was really good and I think he’s come on from that. I really like him.”
Frankie Lor hopes Irish import Unbelievable – a BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) hopeful – can erase the frustrations of a challenging preparation with a strong debut performance in the Class 3 Red Packet Handicap (1600m) under Derek Leung.
“He (Unbelievable) hasn’t been lucky. Early December, I wanted to trial him but suddenly he had a temperature. I started to work him again and he got a quarter crack in his hoof,” Lor said.
“I have been waiting for this race. Everything revolves around the Derby but it’s all a bit rushed. He’s still not 100 per cent fit. We need to give him a run and then we will know more about him.”
Formerly trained by Aidan O’Brien, Unbelievable won two races in England and Ireland is a full brother to unbeaten G1 Dewhurst Stakes (1400m) winner City Of Troy.
Australian jockey Ben Thompson starts his Hong Kong stint with four rides – Devil And Gold, Le Maillot Jaune, Solar Partner and Powerful Wings.
“It’s happened very quickly. I only received an opportunity to ride for the Hong Kong Jockey Club last Monday, so honestly to be standing here is super surreal,” Thompson said.
“I’m very excited to and looking forward to settling in with my wife (Stephanie) and little boy (Harry) and we’re really excited to be here. It’s coming together well and all the help and support the Hong Kong Jockey Club has given me has made the move very comfortable.
“I’m still young, willing to learn – I just want to take in the experience – and ride as many winners as I can. I want to work hard and make the most of my opportunities.”
Monday’s (12 February) 11-race card starts at Sha Tin at 12.30pm with the Class 5 Kung Hei Handicap (1200m).
By Leo Schlink, HKJC