Travelling man Shinn forced to grin and bear it
A couple of familiar British horses stole the headlines in the latter stages of Sunday’s Sha Tin card, with Bear Slam and Seven Heavens opening their HK accounts at the seventeenth and twentieth attempts respectively.
Bear Slam won four times when known as Purser for John Gosden and blossomed with Joao Moreira aboard for the first time in the Zhuhai Handicap, while Seven Heavens was another ex-Gosden horse to shine when asserting close home in the concluding Guangzhou Handicap.
Blake Shinn recorded his first Sha Tin success aboard Seven Heavens but the last week will have taught him much about the ups and downs of life as a HK rider.
The Aussie star made the nine-hour flight from Hong Kong to Melbourne in the hope of riding Humidor in Saturday’s Cox Plate only to head back with nothing to show for his trip when his intended mount missed the cut by one.
And, after receiving strong support from leading handlers during his first two months in a new role, the 32-year-old finds himself with just one ride aboard the unfancied Dr Respect on Wednesday’s card at Happy Valley.
Fownes and Sanna looking for a Legend
Fresh from ending the long winning streak of Hong Kong’s undisputed champion, Caspar Fownes is aiming to upset another heavy hitter from a different division when Southern Legend goes up against Exultant in one of HK’s most historic races at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Rise High hit the headlines for Fownes when making the most of a hefty weight concession from Beauty Generation in the Sha Tin Trophy last week and the upbeat handler feels that weight could be important again when he sends Southern Legend in against champion middle distance stayer Exultant in the Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse.
“Southern Legend could be dangerous getting 6lb off the champ,” he said, while in-form Italian rider Alberto Sanna is equally hopeful of a bold run.
“It’s Southern Legend’s third run of the season and some of those big horses are having their first start,” he said. “It will be difficult but he’s a big hope and last year he finished second to Exultant in the Hong Kong Gold Cup over 2000m so why not? The weight is in our favour.”
Callan hoping for first-class Travel
HK racing’s resident English and Irish players join forces again at the Valley on Wednesday when trainer Richard Gibson and jockey Neil Callan make the latest in a long line of attempts to coax a win from Travel Datuk.
The six-year-old showed smart form as Rockaway Valley when trained by Jessie Harrington in 2015 but has dropped from a rating of 85 to 51 in his new home after a losing run of 34 which has included six seconds.
Bloomin' heck! Hardly Swears and Keith Yeung rattle through the line to mug Travel Datuk and Neil Callan. #HKracing #HappyWednesday pic.twitter.com/mpT4rcqSt1
— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) October 9, 2019
Travel Datuk’s latest near miss showed the best and worst of his racing character as he dashed clear with 200m to run over 1200m only to falter and get pipped on the post by the progressive Hardly Swears.
The presence of several strong front runners looks a plus as he bids to make that elusive breakthrough in the Tin Ha Shan Handicap at 11.45 – and Callan will be hoping to arrive as late as possible on one of HK’s most frustrating customers.