Promising import The Golden Age added to Tony Cruz’s strong hand for next year’s four-year-old series with a second straight Happy Valley win on Wednesday night but the front-runner will get a taste of the big time before then in the Group Three January Cup.
The Golden Age (Matthew Chadwick) made all in a competitive 1,800m Class Two to put his rating into the 90s and Cruz had no hesitation in nominating the Valley’s only Group race as the horse’s next target on January 10.
“He really loves the track and I would like to give him another start here,” Cruz said. “He will have a light weight in the January Cup and it is over the same course and distance, 1,800m, as tonight’s win.”
Cruz also has exciting and in-form prospects Exultant, Doctor Geoff and Sacred Elixir headed to the Classic Mile on January 21 but suggested he would skip that leg of the four-year-old series entirely with The Golden Age.
“He is looking for further,” Cruz said. “I really like this horse and the best part is that he is still improving. He gets out in front and makes his own luck.”
Joao Moreira may have missed out in the International Jockeys’ Championship but the Brazilian opened the night on fire, winning the first three races on Yourthewonforme, Infinity Endeavour and Bank On Red.
The win on Yourthewonforme continued Moreira’s freakish strike rate with rookie trainer Frankie Lor Fu-chuen, with the Brazilian now having won on six of 10 rides for the stable, including six of seven in Class Five.
Infinity Endeavour gave John Size the first leg of a double as the well-bred youngster defied his pedigree and showed some dash first up in a 1,200m sprint.
“Well his performance wasn’t a surprise because he started 2.4 favourite, but neither was the way he has performed over 1,200m,” Size said.
A sprightly dirt trial in pacifiers – often used to protect a horse’s eyes on the all-weather track – convinced the trainer to keep the headgear on for race day with good effect.
“He seemed to respond to them so they stayed on,” he said.
Like his stablemate, Bank On Red is technically 2018 Derby eligible and although he has won two of his past three to rise to the top of Class Three but the four-year-old series will come too soon for the Ron and Johanna Arculli-owned import.
“He doesn’t have the figures,” Size said.
Ahead of starting a short-term contract in January, @PCBOUDOT wins the fourth leg of the IJC on Bank On Red. @flavienprat finished second aboard Imperial Gallantry, with Keita Tosaki third on Litterateur #HKIR pic.twitter.com/H2Hx93zo0q— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) December 6, 2017
Moreira’s third win came when Fairy Twins made a late dive on the line and completed a long comeback from throat surgery with a Class Three victory.
“The technology is getting better with the throat surgeries,” So said. “I felt he could win off this rating but he had just been unlucky, Joao rode a great race on him.”
Caspar Fownes produced Peace Combination for his first win in more than two years and just second in 36 starts when Silvestre de Sousa bounced the seven-year-old to the front from gate one and led all the way in the second leg of the IJC.
“He finally drew a gate,” Fownes said. “He has finally got down to a rating where he is competitive and has been running good races, it’s just been the barriers that have been a killer. Now we might have to change things up and get the apprentice on him, and get seven pounds off his back.”
Peace Combination gives @SilvDSousa maximum points from Leg 2 of the @LONGINES International Jockeys Championship, from Dr Proactive and @HugeBowman in second. Exceptional Desire and @PCBOUDOT finish third #HKIR pic.twitter.com/1rdSgq4QGz— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) December 6, 2017
A race earlier Zac Purton had laid the foundation for his IJC win when he scored on Our Hero, trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing giving all the credit to the Australian jockey.
“This horse is very limited, and the worst thing is there isn’t anything wrong with him, he just isn’t very good,” Shum said.
Benno Yung Tin-pang was another deflecting praise to jockeys after Derek Leung Ka-chun conjured a narrow win on Fortune Bo Bo.
“His rating is getting right up to a point where he needs a few things his way,” Yung said after the 45-1 winner. “Hopefully he only goes up five and we can find a 85-60 ratings band race for him.”
Only one rider incurred the wrath of the stewards with US-based Frenchman Flavian Prat outed for two meetings (December 13 and 17) for careless riding aboard Imperial Gallantry in race eight.