PREMIERE (124lb) dashed to an exhilarating victory in the Class 2 Kwoon Chung Bus Cup Handicap (1000m) at Happy Valley tonight, Wednesday, October 11th.
“I don’t think I’ve ridden a horse as fast as that, he’s so quick,” jockey Karis Teetan declared after the John Size-trained galloper had clocked a bullet 56.67s, the fastest at the course and distance since December, 2014.
Last season’s Champion Griffin burst from gate six in the night’s penultimate contest, snared the lead and was never headed. The Dylan Thomas gelding upped the ante at the top of the stretch, forging on to tow home runner-up Born In China (129lb) by a comfortable three quarters of a length.
“He’s stronger now as a four-year-old but he won’t be aimed at the internationals,” Size said, referencing December’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m). “He’s limited to five furlongs – the 1200 is too far, so he’ll go for the next 1000-metre race at Sha Tin.”
International Races or not, Teetan believes the New Zealand-bred Premiere has more to give.
“I rode him last season and he’s grown up now, the summer break has helped him,” the Mauritian rider said of the 2.3 favourite. “Going forward, he has a nice future in front of him. The thing about him today was that he showed so much speed but then he was still able to quicken. When I pressed him he responded.
“I was being soft on him at the end, he was going easy. He kept going and he felt like if something came up to him he would have kicked again, he still had so much in the tank. He wasn’t the champion griffin for nothing, he has the ability.”
The win was Premiere’s fifth from 14 Hong Kong starts and made it two from two this campaign.
One race earlier, Gold Land notched an overdue first Hong Kong win in the evening’s Class 3 Residents’ Service Handicap (1650m). Tony Cruz’s charge arrived in Hong Kong from the UK with a Listed win under his belt but had shown little in eight starts since, most recently when last of 12 at the course and distance two weeks ago.
“It’s about time,” Cruz said as he watched a re-run of the 20/1 shot’s breakthrough score under Sam Clipperton. “I don’t have high expectations; he might be able to win in Class 2. The jockey gave him a perfect ride, just like I told him – sit handy on the rail and wait for the straight. It was a perfect ride.”
Nash Rawiller took his season’s tally to five wins with an early brace. The Australian ace took out the Class 5 opener, a 1000m dash, aboard the Danny Shum-trained Sparkling Talent (10/1), and landed the third, a 1200m Class 4 contest, for the Benno Yung stable atop the 3.3 favourite Love Chunghwa.
Dennis Yip, out of town at the Gold Coast Magic Millions Sale, snared a race-to-race double. Derek Leung delivered the handler’s Ho Ho Feel (6/1) to win the night’s fourth contest, the Class 3 Employees’ Service Handicap (1800m), by a neck. One race later, Eddy Lai produced the 19/1 shot Gentry (120lb) with a late rattle to pip Speedy Wally (127lb) by a head in the Class 4 International Passenger Service Handicap (1650m).
Derek Cruz has made a good start to the campaign. The handler has only 26 horses in his stable but notched his third and fourth wins of the term. Bottom-weight Happy Fiery Dragon (13/1) benefited from Dylan Mo’s 7lb allowance to take section one of the Class 4 Kwoon Chung Bipenggou Tourism Service Handicap (1200m). And in the last, another featherweight, Good Companion (9/1), dug deep in the stretch run to repel all-comers under 5lb claimer Jack Wong.
Hong Kong racing resumes at Sha Tin on Saturday, October 14th.