Doubles for Purton, Ho, Shum and Yiu as Man looks to G1 Centenary Sprint Cup
By Leo Schlink
Seeking elite success with Lucky Sweynesse in the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) at Sha Tin this weekend, Manfred Man laid down a positive marker at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (1 February) with E Legend’s success.
Providing Man with his ninth victory since the start of January – and 21st of the campaign – E Legend claimed the second section of the Class 4 Oi Kwan Handicap (1650m) for Zac Purton as a positive omen ahead of Sunday’s (5 February) feature meeting when Man chases a third Centenary Sprint Cup after Eagle Regiment’s victories in 2012 and 2013.
“The horse (E Legend) has been racing in Class 3 and now has dropped down to Class 4 and he’s run well tonight,” Man said. “It was a good effort. I am looking forward to Sunday with Lucky Sweynesse.”
The DBS x Manulife Million Challenge will go down to the wire next Wednesday (8 February) when the lucrative series comes to an end with Nearly Fine (53 points) and Street Scream (45) best-placed to take top honours following the failure of several rivals to make gains tonight.
The win of Here Comes Ted in the second section of the Class 3 Tin Lok Handicap (1200m) scuppered the immediate hopes of Yo Beauty, who is joint third overall in the series with 42 points, while Jolly Ruler’s success in the first section of the Class 3 Tin Lok Handicap (1200m) blocked the advance of Excellent Peers, who also has 42 points.
John Size’s decision to reunite Karis Teetan with Escape Route paved the way for a nose victory in the Class 3 Volunteers’ Challenge Cup Handicap (1800m) over Rocket Spade.
“It’s nice to ride another winner for John,” Teetan said after slotting his first win of the season for the 11-time champion trainer. “We had a perfect run and the horse picked up really well. It was a nice win.”
Here Comes Ted slotted his first success in David Hall’s care after Luke Ferraris drove the gelding to a neck victory as Loriz again displayed his liking for the city circuit’s six-furlong course, posting his fifth victory over the trip by claiming the Class 5 Bowen Handicap (1200m) for Ricky Yiu and Vincent Ho, despite top weight of 135lb.
“This is his course, this is his distance,” Yiu said of the Smart Missile gelding. “He’s a lovely horse and I think he can still be competitive on a light weight in Class 4.”
Ho extended a stellar run of form to combine with Tony Cruz’s Righteous Arion to win the first section of the Class 4 Stubbs Handicap (1200m) as a patient ride from Matthew Poon proved decisive as Regency Master overcame barrier 12 to clinch the Class 5 Morrison Hill Handicap (1800m) for Danny Shum.
Purton sealed a double when Jamie Richards-trained Hoss drove hard late to land the second section of the Class 4 Stubbs Handicap (1200m) after conceding rivals a decent start rounding the home turn.
“It was a really good effort, obviously he was a long back and I rode for luck and the runs came,” said Purton, who has 85 wins for the season. “He was a little bit reluctant to take the gaps, he’s still a little bit unsure of what he’s doing out there. Even coming back, I had to trot him because he wants to shy at everything.
“But he’s obviously got ability – he’s just got to put it together, but he was pretty soft on the line.”
Shum snared a double when Chill Chibi impressed in winning the first section of the Class 4 Oi Kwan Handicap (1650m) under Jerry Chau.
“It takes a nice horse to do that at three (years of age) at Happy Valley,” Shum said of the Wrote gelding. “His first run was okay but this time we saw his real ability. I think he will go to Class 3, I think they will put him up eight points in the rating. But in Class 3, if he gets a reasonable draw, I think he can handle it.
“Hopefully next season when he gets stronger and his mind matures – he still doesn’t know what to do – he can be a nice four-year-old.”
Fresh from Hong Kong Classic Mile success with Voyage Bubble, Yiu extended his stable’s stunning form with Jolly Ruler’s victory under Antoine Hamelin in the programme finale.
Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday (5 February) with the running of the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) and the G3 Centenary Vase Handicap (1800m).