Hong Kong Diary

The transfer market has been alive and kicking in Hong Kong this week. A past champion trainer is returning from Australia next year, while two familiar riders will be back for winter stints once the European season is done and dusted.

  • Tuesday 10 September
  • Blog
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Hayes heading back to HK with a 2020 vision

Hong Kong racing is going back to the future with the news that former champion trainer David Hayes will return to the fray next season.

The 56-year-old has been at the top of his profession for three decades – numbering three Cox Plates, two Caulfield Cups and one Melbourne Cup among a long list of major successes – and was HK champion trainer twice during a ten-season stint between 1995 and 2005.

Rumours that Hayes was considering a return to train at Sha Tin were confirmed when he appeared at a media event on Tuesday and, with John Moore set to retire next July, his fellow Aussie is being seen as a like-for-like replacement.

“I only ever left Hong Kong because of the tragic situation of my brother dying and my father passing away in the matter of 18 months,” he said.

“The goals is to train as many winners as possible. It won’t be easy but I’m hoping I can be a consistent top five player and maybe, if I get lucky, win the odd championship again.”

Badel and De Sousa back again

The HKJC also announced the return of two popular riders on Tuesday by confirming that Silvestre de Sousa and Alexis Badel will return to HK for their now-regular winter stints.

Both riders have been in the wars of late, with the Brazilian nursing a broken collar bone and Badel recovering from facial injuries sustained in a heavy tumble in France.

However, Badel has signed up to return to Hong Kong for four months starting in early November, while De Sousa’s deal is slightly shorter but may be extended depending on his commitments with King Power Racing.

Moreira on the move after Sunday treble

After a frustrating first day of near misses, Joao Moreira’s season is up and running after a Sunday treble provided by Fortune Happiness, Dollar Reward and Silver Fig.

The Brazilian was forced to play second fiddle to Zac Purton after his stay in Japan was cut short last season but is relishing his new-found freelance status after operating as stable jockey to John Size last term.

“I knew I would have better rides when it came to the second and third meetings, so I didn’t panic,” he said. “I knew I was doing the proper job and I was talking with as many trainers as I could – they were kind enough to support me with good rides and there is plenty more to come.”

Brits abroad shine at Sha Tin

British imports of various types enjoyed a good day at Sha Tin on Sunday.

California Legend got the ball rolling when becoming the first son of Derby winner Camelot to score at Sha Tin, while veteran Lotus Breeze (formerly known as Ebanoran when ninth behind Australia at Epsom in 2014) came from way back for his fifth HK success.

Last but not least, Big Time Baby aroused Michael Owen’s interest when battling on gamely under Matthew Chadwick to land the featured Class AW sprint.

Big Time Baby was trained by Tom Dascombe at Owen’s Manor House Stables when winning the 2016 Roses Stakes at York and Owen, currently promoting his autobiography ‘Reboot,’, reports that he is keen to strengthen the link with HK owners over the next few years.

Millard has desert dreams for improving Elusive

Elusive State’s close second behind Big Time Baby in Sunday’s feature event proved the one that got away for Moreira but trainer Tony Millard was thrilled with the performance of a horse who has gained almost 80lb in body weight and risen from a mark of just 57 to 96  since joining him just over a year ago.

A planned trip to the Dubai Carnival didn’t come off last season but Millard has foreign targets in mind if all goes well this time around and even has one eye on the new US$20m Saudi Cup next February.

“No-one wants to say he’s that good at this stage but what’s good about the Saudi race is that it’s over 1800m – and that’s exactly what Elusive State wants,” he said.  “He’s the type of horse who’s progressive and if we can get him in the right spot you never know what might happen.”

Hong Kong Diary
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