Ng, Fownes, Bowman and Purton share Happy Valley spotlight with doubles
By Leo Schlink
Keen to build on a strong debut season, Pierre Ng notched his first double of the 2023/24 campaign at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (27 September) as the young trainer outlined ambitions to hit fresh targets.
Ng, 40, produced 41 wins from 511 starters last term and, with tonight’s brace through Medic Elite and Happy Angel, he has secured five wins from 39 runners across the first six meetings of the season.
Fresh from a double at Sha Tin on Sunday (24 September), Alexis Badel teamed with Ng aboard Medic Elite to land the second section of the Class 5 Swallow Handicap (1650m) before Ng continued an excellent start to the season when Happy Angel scored under Matthew Chadwick.
The double leaves Ng in fifth place overall on the Hong Kong trainers’ championship behind Francis Lui (eight wins), Caspar Fownes (seven) and Danny Shum (six).
“We have made a better start than last year and we’re hopefully going to get more and more wins,” Ng said. “We’ve had a couple of unlucky runners and hopefully they get wins next time.
“Medic Elite ran very well last season and the way it panned out tonight was very suitable and Happy Angel, his race also worked out well.”
Four-time Hong Kong champion Caspar Fownes matched Ng’s double with the wins of M Unicorn and Lucky Gor to lead the Happy Valley season standings with five wins from Cruz (three) and Francis Lui (three).
Harry Bentley piloted M Unicorn to a three-length win in the Class 4 Magpie Handicap (1650m), sustaining a sweeping run off the home turn to forge clear before Bowman lifted Lucky Gor to a short head victory over Awesome Treasure in a riveting finish to the Class 4 Melbourne Cup Tour Handicap (1200m).
Bowman, 43, became the jockey to hit double figures this season with a double, having also struck with Superb Move, to have 11 wins for the campaign – three more than six-time Hong Kong champion Zac Purton, who also celebrated a brace.
Bowman’s experience and poise proved decisive in the first section of the Class 5 Swallow Handicap (1650m) when eventual winner Superb Move lost ground after suddenly dropping his head as the barriers opened.
“It was nothing untoward – he just threw his head down at the wrong time and when his head was on the floor when the gates opened. All’s well that ends well,” the unflappable Australian said after combining with Dennis Yip.
Purton struck aboard Lucky Archangel for Frankie Lor in the Class 4 Honeyeater Handicap (1200m) before closing the programme in style atop Shum’s Lightning Bolt in the first section of the Class 3 Cuckoo Handicap (1200m).
Angus Chung and Tony Cruz combined to clinch the evening’s feature event, the Class 3 HKEX Cup Handicap (1800m) when Majestic Victory (109lb) swept to a comfortable victory over Sunny Star (128lb) and Pegasus General (115lb).
Benno Yung posted his first winner of the season when O’Liner led all the way under Luke Ferraris in the second section of the Class 3 Cuckoo Handicap (1200m). Winner of the G2 Skyline Stakes (1200m) at Randwick Racecourse in 2021 when known as O’President and trained by Bjorn Baker, O’Liner had been unplaced in five previous Hong Kong starts until tonight.
Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday (1 October) with the running of the G3 National Day Cup (1000m).
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