Hong Kong Diary

Hong Kong’s best supporting actors are doing their best to upstage the stars with just three weeks of the season left. Karis Teetan continued his golden run with a treble that leaves him just one short of a personal best at Sha Tin on Sunday, while Keith Yeung secured a first Group race victory on the same card. Ricky Yiu’s dreams of a first trainers’ title moved closer after a double took him five clear of Tony Cruz but Zac Purton and Joao Moreira will be the men in the spotlight again when the Sky Sports Racing cameras home in on Happy Valley this Wednesday.

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Yeung ends drought as Dragon eclipses Plate rivals  

Strange things are reputed to happen when an eclipse takes place and Dances With Dragon provided a shock at Sha Tin on Sunday when running away with HK’s last Group race of the season for Caspar Fownes and Keith Yeung.
The G3 Premier Plate was run in eerie light as the moon moved slowly across the sun but Furore illuminated what had been a deeply frustrating season for homegrown lightweight Yeung, who recorded his first Group win after more than a decade with a HK licence as the six-year-old bounded clear of a field including last year’s Derby hero Furore and G1-winning stablemate Southern Legend.

“What makes it meaningful is that Caspar and the owners gave me the ride,” said Yeung. The horse had a chance and for them to support a jockey who has had only one win in more than six months, some would say that is crazy. But they handed me a good horse and they had faith in me – that really touches me.”
Victory broke Yeung’s second triple-figure dry spell of the season and the popular 32-year-old will be hoping he doesn’t have to rely on another eclipse for further big-race success – the next one of note in the Asia-Pacific region doesn’t take place until 2030!

Advantage Purton as title clash continues

The battle has been long and drawn out but time may well show that Sunday was a key day in the battle for the HK jockeys’ title.

Purton’s strike rate has dipped of late but that has coincided with a similar lull for the Magic Man, who needs to hit form with a vengeance to take the crown that Purton has worn for the last two seasons.

Moreira seeking Magic touch with progressive Darci

Joao Moreira
Joao Moreira has a full book of nine rides on Wednesday including the progressive Sky Darci.

Moreira has a full book of nine rides to Purton’s seven on Wednesday’s Valley card and early market moves suggest he has several strong chances, notably aboard the progressive Sky Darci in the Mount Gough Handicap at 2.15.

The canny Fownes seemed keen to keep things low key after his handsome three-year-old recorded a commanding Class 4 score over course and distance two weeks ago but there was no mistaking the style of that success and Moreira clearly feels that he can take the step up to Class 3 in his stride.

“I was quite confident last time and he won in a very nice way,” he said. “He tracks the speed well and had such great acceleration in the straight so if he’s able to produce that again he’s going to be a very tough horse to beat.”

Melbourne in mind as World Pool leaders eye expansion

World Pool betting is set for further expansion after last week’s Royal Ascot meeting provided bumper results.

With HK as the hub of various international Tote operations and six races added to the schedule, average race turnover grew by almost a third with total turnover up from £92.2m to £137m year on year.

Next week’s Derby meeting is not on the World Pool rota this year but Australia’s most famous race could be according to HKJC CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges.

“Now I can see we are really getting momentum,” he told the SCMP’s Tom Biddington. “With the success now I think even more jurisdictions will follow. We want to start more strategic discussions with Australia and a race like the Melbourne Cup would make sense.”

Hong Kong Diary
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