Seasons Bloom didn’t win but Danny Shum Chap-shing got his wish and a “Derby ticket” that will come when the Hong Kong Classic Mile runner-up is re-handicapped on Monday.
Shum’s horse charged home for second to finish just two lengths behind Rapper Dragon but a readjusted rating will put the most inexperienced runner in Sunday’s race firmly into Derby calculations.
With Seasons Bloom rated just 83 heading into the Classic Mile, and Rapper Dragon 114, Jockey Club chief handicapper Nigel Gray will lift the second placegetter 10 points, the maximum allowed under the rules.
While at most times of the season trainers complain about such ratings increases, Shum will welcome the hefty hike knowing the new rating guarantees his horse a start in the Group One BMW Hong Kong Derby on March 19.
“Of course I wanted to win, but we got what we really wanted and that was that Derby ticket,” Shum said.
“We only just had the rating to sneak into this race, but I think it will take a rating up in the 90s to get into the Derby this year and now we have it.”
Despite the dominant nature of Rapper Dragon’s win, connections of plenty of beaten runners will have taken heart from strong run-on performances, while for others, failures provided a reality check.
John Moore had plenty to keep an eye on with half the field under his care and joked after the race that he needed “seven sets of eyes” to analyse the runs.
Still, he saw enough from third-placed Beauty Generation to suggest a gear change.
“He was fractionally disappointing,” Moore said. “Zac (Purton) was of the opinion that maybe taking the blinkers off might be a possibility, simply because through the race he gets on the chewy a little bit. Maybe taking the blinkers off, he’ll settle a little bit more and have the kick at the end.”
The Tony Cruz-trained Winner’s Way, who finished fourth, ran a big race after working hard to get across early, but it was stablemate Pakistan Star a place behind in fifth that attracted more attention.
A decision to drive forward from an awkward draw proved disastrous as Pakistan Star was trapped three-wide with no cover.
“He didn’t have the perfect race, but probably got his chance and the winner was too good,” Cruz said. “I’m not giving up on the Derby. He is bred to stay so we will go to the 1,800m race and see how he gets over that trip.”
Rapper Dragon (ex Street Rapper) soars in $10m HK Classic Mile from Seasons Bloom (ex Le Capitaine) & Beauty Generation (ex Montaigne) pic.twitter.com/yRVF2tZcrS— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) January 22, 2017
It was back to the drawing board for the John Size-trained Western Express, who finished 10th as an 8.5 chance, with Ryan Moore forced to ride the horse along to maintain a position early.
“Ryan was never happy with his position but it is fair to say the overall assessment was that he wasn’t ready for that level of tough competition so I am thinking I will probably bring him back in distance for a Class Two,” Size said.