For a horse yet to win in Hong Kong, Seven Heavens has been involved in his fair share of controversy and the unlucky five-year-old will look to make amends on Wednesday night at Happy Valley.
The English import lines up in the Class Three Dongcheng District Handicap (1,200m) after landing consecutive placings while racing over the 1,000m trip up the Sha Tin straight.
Seven Heavens looked set to break his maiden last start before he was denied a winning chance when jockey Silvestre de Sousa shifted across on Utopia Life who was racing greenly.
The race ended in controversy with jockey Martin Harley objecting to De Sousa’s victory on Utopia Life and eventually having the placings overturned, promoting Seven Heavens to third place.
“The stewards took a decision out there and I thought it was the wrong one,” De Sousa said at the time.
“I have never seen any place in the world do that to a horse that was in front when the one from the back looks for a run and can’t get a run. But that’s up to the stewards, I can’t make the decision, that’s their decision.”
With back-to-back placings, connections have opted to put champion jockey Zac Purton on to ride for the third time this season.
Drama at Sha Tin! Multimillion gets it in the Stewards' Room as first past the post Utopia Life pays the price for squeezing out the luckless Seven Heavens close home. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/EpWsp3s5yQ— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) March 24, 2019
Purton has partnered the horse to a fourth and second placing at Happy Valley over the same class and distance.
Formerly trained by John Gosden in Britain, Seven Heavens won his first two starts as a two-year-old before faltering when stepping up to Group One company in his third.
He had a total of seven starts for Gosden before being sold to Hong Kong as a three-year-old.
The Caspar Fownes-trained galloper has drawn barrier nine, but Purton will be given comfort by the fact he was able to finish strongly from barrier 11 in November last year.
Seven Heavens is one of two Siu family-owned horses in the race with John Size’s Infinity Endeavour dropping from Class Two.
The pair will jump next to each other, with Infinity Endeavour drawing barrier 10.
With Purton hovering on 98 wins for the season, Seven Heavens could bring up the century for the Australian who will ride five horses before the event.
Purton sits peerless in the jockeys’ championship with a 33-win buffer to the second-placed Karis Teetan who has enjoyed a breakout year with 65 victories.
“I just keep turning up, chipping away and following that fence around trying to get to the winning post as quick as I can,” Purton joked after his four-timer at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Seven Heavens is one of six horses that Fownes will bring to the city track on Wednesday night.
After running over 1,000m on Sunday, the “King of the Valley” will back up Cheerfuljet to run three days later in the Class Three Hong Kong Exchanges Challenge Cup (1,000m).
The 78-rated galloper raced strongly up the Sha Tin straight before fading out late under leading local jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu.