Dashing sweeps to hat-trick of wins
THE aptly-named Dashing (9-2) completed a hat-trick of victories last night and had the Saturday night Sha Tin crowd buzzing with a magnificent galloping display in the Class One, fourth event.
It continued the tremendous run of Irish-American jockey Declan Murphy who is winding up his five-year Hongkong career with a cascade of winners.
Trainer Geoff Lane had almost a proprietorial look of delight as he ushered in his 31/4 lengths winner whom he purchased in New Zealand.
Dashing had shown at his first run, when finishing second at big odds, that he seemed to have what it takes and that has been roundly confirmed since.
The manner in which he quickened half-way down the straight in this all-the-way effort stamped him as a galloper of the utmost class.
Dashing, who won as he pleased at Happy Valley over 1,650 metres last time, dispelled any faint doubts about class when decimating this field of 13 - including such noteworthy performers as Appreciation (5-2 favourite), topweight Wonderful World (16-1) and last start winner Muhim (10-1).
Murphy, who is riding in quite sensational form at the moment, was not short in his praise of the lightly-raced private purchase.
''I knew from the first day I was on him that he had plenty of ability and all he has done since is learn a bit more about the game and simply give everything that he has.
''On paper this was a lot harder than he faced previously but he is a very strong horse, one who really puts everything into it. It is a pleasure and a thrill to ride him,'' said Murphy.
But the former New York champion apprentice, who departs to Taipa next season, was again displaying his superb judgement of pace.
He dashed Dashing to the front - and stayed there. But that is never as easy as it sounds, even with such an obviously good horse as this fellow.
Murphy slowed them fractionally coming to the turn, having easily seen off lightly weighted Grey Linnet (30-1) at this stage, and then turned on the heat on straightening.
Topweight Wonderful World was running gamely under his big weight of 140lb - giving 24lb to the winner - and came surging on to the scene at the top of the straight under vigorous riding from Basil Marcus.
Also moving up was the favourite Appreciation who was given every chance by Gerald Mosse.
But Murphy simply booted Dashing clear and Wonderful World, a gallant effort under the weight, held on to second in a nail-biting photo with last start winner Timah (12-1). Timah came very late between horses as did Magnified (9-2) who could not join issue with them in the final stages.
The meeting opened on a bright note for claimer Vicky C. W. Choi but cheers from punters were decidedly muted when Mr Snip (25-1) greeted the judge at the end of a Class Two, 1,200-metre event.
Mr Snip was the complete outsider in the nine-runner field but won like an odds-on favourite, easily taking over midway down the straight.
Topweight Mustang (4-1) ran a game second having looked a real chance until Mr Snip let loose and Blazing Blade (9-1) made up ground late along the rail to take third spot.