Happy Guys shocks a few Derby hopefuls
Six-year-old Happy Guys came out of left field to dent some big Derby-bound reputations in the final race, giving trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai surprise bookend winners for the day.
Part of another double for Zac Purton, Happy Guys brought his Happy Valley form to Sha Tin, and was able to outgun John Moore's Derby hopefuls Dan Excel (Jeff Lloyd), Military Attack and Same World at better than 50-1.
Yiu's opening race winner, Super Pepper had landed at 30-1, so he was hardly the punters' pin-up trainer, and Purton, enjoying his best season, wasn't making any apologies after the seventh straight meeting where he has won at least one race.
'Can't say I've actually got a Derby ride at this stage so I'm not too upset at upsetting them,' the Australian laughed. 'Happy Guys had a nice run behind the speed today. He is usually out there cutting the breeze in his races and this time I was just able to get in behind the leader, Aomen, to sit in second and give him a bit more of a breather.'
The effort by Dan Excel left Moore and Lloyd somewhat non-plussed heading on towards the Derby, while Military Attack (seventh) and particularly Same World had excuses.
'Same World was wide all the way so his effort for fifth was probably pretty good and Military Attack wasn't getting all the room he wanted down the straight,' said Moore, who hopes to have as many as six runners in the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby on March 18.
'There wasn't anything really wrong with Dan Excel's run, except he didn't win,' said Lloyd. 'He had a nice run, he came to win and only got beaten a neck but I guess, when he came I thought he would just win and he didn't.
'And you weren't expecting Happy Guys to be there kicking back and beating him. One thing I will say is that he will improve again for that - it was only his third run here - and he'll enjoy the extra 200m in the Derby.'
The pair for Purton takes him to 36 wins for the term and seven clear of third-placed Olivier Doleuze, but still a distance behind a rampaging Douglas Whyte on 68 wins.