You may not be able to get a haircut in Hong Kong right now but that shouldn’t impact the city’s punters, who were left pulling their hair out after a string of big-priced winners at Sha Tin on Saturday.
With En Pointe the only favourite successful in the first eight races, the going was already tough for bettors before the win of Hong Kong debutant Texas Moon at odds of $72 in the Class Three Peony Handicap (1,200m).
The son of Dawn Approach had won once in two starts for trainer Willie McCreery in Ireland but had beaten just two of 27 rivals in his three most recent barrier trials and it’s fair to say the win surprised trainer Benno Yung Tin-pang.
“I wasn’t expecting that, I thought he’d finish further back but I’m delighted for owner [Robert Ng Chee-siong],” Yung said.
“In a couple of runs at Conghua on the grass, he gave a good feeling and jumped better with some blinkers on. I didn’t put the blinkers on today but he still did well.”
The trainer has no lofty targets for Texas Moon but feels moving up in trip is a logical next step.
“I think 1,200m is a bit short for him and he could go up to 1,400m,” Yung said.
Texas Moon’s victory was a second Hong Kong winner for Daniel Moor and his first at Sha Tin, and the new jockey has a fan in Yung.
“I think Daniel is a good jockey and he showed it,” Yung said.
Moor burst through late on Texas Moon to win by a short-head with less than a length covering the first six home, and the Australian was delighted with his mount’s performance.
“The win had a lot of merit to it. He had no speed early, he’s a very green horse,” Moor said. “He doesn’t know a great deal, he’s still developing and he’s still got a bit more to come.
Exciting young stars give trainer Richard Gibson confidence
“He wasn’t going to win being the widest runner, so I whipped back inside and he responded nicely under riding.”
On any normal afternoon, a $72 winner would easily be the biggest-priced victor but Texas Moon had to give way to Right Honourable in that category, who saluted at odds of $75 when landing the first section of the Class Four Daisy Handicap (1,200m).
Right Honourable - like a rocket! 🚀 @Ruanmaiajockey pilots the eight-year-old to an almighty win from the tail of the field. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/TKbctUYkq6— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 12, 2022
The veteran, who was making his 49th start in Hong Kong, had not finished better than 11th in his last four runs but swooped wide down the centre of the track to collar long-time leader Eight Trigrams.
Trainer Richard Gibson, whose Navas Two disappointed when chasing four wins in a row in the Class Two Rose Handicap (1,600m) to close out the card, was registering his ninth winner of the season and was keen to talk up rider Ruan Maia, with whom he has formed a good partnership this season.
“Don’t call the jockey Maia, call him Jesus,” Gibson said.
The hits just seemed to keep coming for punters as Glenealy Generals ended a losing streak going back two and a half years when grabbing a last-gasp success in the Class Four Lily Handicap (1,000m) at odds of $20.
A disappointing last on his latest start, Glenealy General came from the rear of midfield to gun down debutant Flying Season for trainer Dennis Yip Chor-hong.
“This season he’s been very consistent over 1,000m apart from last time, but he was crossed by another horse then,” Yip said. “After that last start, he’s kept his form and is very consistent.”
With Divine Era, Apache Pass and Skyey Supreme all coming home at double-figure odds, there were very few bright points on a difficult day for punters.