It was a night for the reigning champions at Happy Valley with Joao Moreira putting some more breathing space between himself and Zac Purton in the race for the jockeys’ title, while top trainer John Size captured the two features.
Purton cut the lead to four wins after a big outing on Sunday, but the Magic Man pushed it back to six with a double – edging out the Australian on both occasions.
Moreira captured the opening race on Jolly Amber, the first of a double for Ricky Yiu Poon-fai, before Gunnison held on by the narrowest of margins to beat the fast-finishing Fortune Booth in the Class Two France Galop Cup (1,200m).
It Gunnison’s first win since taking out a Group Two in Australia as a two-year-old over 14 months ago and Size has been patient him.
Gunnison lands the @francegalop Cup Handicap in 1:08.56. #HappyWednesdayHK The final time was the second-fastest 1200m at Happy Valley ever-recorded. Chairman's Sprint Prize winner Ivictory holds record at 1:08.52 from 7 Mar. pic.twitter.com/BuFjynWfOa— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) May 23, 2018
“It’s a good job because he’s only a three-year-old winning in Class Two. He looked like hard work when he arrived but he’s managed to win a race before the end of the season, so I think we’re pretty satisfied with that,” Size said.
“I don’t think he’s got too much [upside], I think he’s going to hover around Class Two. They ran fast time tonight but two horses ran the time, not just one. He could improve and should improve as a four-year-old but I think the top of Class Two would be a good target.”
Earlier, Size combined with Olivier Doleuze to take out the Class Two Le French Trophy (1,800m) with the super honest Prawn Baba.
“He’s won on [a rating of]100 and that’s not easy. He’s showed he’s a good little racehorse,” Size said.
“He had a tough run a tough run the day he won over 2,200m and then ran over 2,400m – that’s hard work. He’s come back in distance and carried the top weight and won again – he’s a good servant.”
While Moreira had things fall his way, it wasn’t Purton’s night with five top four finishes from his six rides without a win while he was on the favourite Dashing Gainer when he was scratched at the barriers after getting his leg over the gates.
While the removal of Dashing Gainer was a blow for Purton, it worked out to be a plus for Cheer Win, who completed a double for Yiu.
“I wanted to see him jump a bit quicker but he was too relaxed after they had to reload them. The first time he was ready to jump,” Yiu said. “But [Karis Teetan] had faith in the horse, he didn’t use him up early, came to the outside and he finished off strongly.”
Jolly Amber is owned by Sammo Hung Kam-po, but Yiu doesn’t expect the gelding to live up to the standards set by the actor’s previous horse, Group One winner Amber Sky.
“We waited too long for that,” he said after the Class Five win. “He’s very immature – mentally and physically.”
Another horse connections have had to take their time with is All You Know, but trainer Richard Gibson thinks he can progress higher after breaking his maiden in the Class Four Equidia Racing Channel Handicap (1,650m).
“He’s a typical Europe horse – he’s a late developer,” Gibson said.
“We’ve always liked him but he’s had his fair share of health problems with bad feet. He ran a great race last time and it’s pretty rare that Douglas does 116 [pounds] so I think that was a sign to all the punters that he liked the horse.
“He still hasn’t reached his peak this horse, he’s a very well bred horse by Dark Angel, who does very well in Europe and hopefully we’ll be able to score again with him.”
The other highlight of the night was jockey Alvin Ng Ka-chun landing his second victory of the season (from 235 rides) when he guided home Multi Facets for Tony Cruz.
Multi Facets, formerly named Auberge Du Lac when trained by @trilliumplace, scores his first Hong Kong win under Alvin Ng, taking the sixth at Happy Valley #HKRacing #HappyWednesdayHK pic.twitter.com/6o6QQvolQt— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) May 23, 2018
Meanwhile, the Jockey Club confirmed that Time Warp won’t take part in Sunday’s Group One Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2,400m).
Cruz wrote to the Jockey Club hoping to overturn a stewards embargo that requires the two-time Group One winner to pass a barrier trial before being allowed to run again.
The Jockey Club duly considered the trainer’s request but ultimately confirmed the stewards’ decision stands.