Jeremy Greene, now with ITM, proved to be quite a tipster

IRISH import Gold-Fun staked an early claim to Hong Kong Derby glory in March when winning the first of the Group 1 races for the classic generation, the Hong Kong Classic Mile, at Sha Tin last Sunday.

Gold-Fun raced just twice in Ireland for trainer Ger Lyons as Strada Colorata, winning his only start as a three-year-old in a Naas maiden last April, before heading east to the yard of Richard Gibson.

This was the son of Le Vie Dei Colori’s third consecutive mile victory in his new environment, and to his great credit he had to overcome a wide passage under Douglas Whyte and then work hard to repel the determined challenge of Garlic Boy by a neck.

“It’s a huge moment in my career,” said the Englishman Gibson, now in his second season locally. “We have won a Group 1 with an improving horse and he can only get better.”

Gibson later added on his Facebook page: “Full marks to Ger Lyons, he’s a top trainer. He selected and evaluated Gold Fun as major league, so congratulations and huge thanks to him also.”

Whyte blamed himself for getting to the front too soon. “When I’ve swung into the straight and there were three or four in front of me still going forward, I’ve pressed the button thinking I’ll get to them gradually, but by the furlong I was in front already and too early. He’s got a phenomenal turn of foot and what I’ve really liked about him today is he dug down.”

All in all, it was a solid performance by Gold-Fun, but some perspective is required. Despite its local Group 1 tag and prizemoney of just over €600,000, on ratings alone the Classic Mile race was more akin to a Class 2 event restricted to four-year-olds.

Certainly, the first two past the post are pretty smart, and can continue as leading players in the remaining two races of the classic series, with the Classic Cup next over nine furlongs. As for the rest, much improvement is required.

Twelve of the 14-runner field had raced overseas before being sold to Hong Kong, with seven of those coming from France, the best of which was Ashkiyr, formerly trained by Alain de Royer-Dupré, who caught the eye running on into fourth. He will be better suited as the distances stretch out leading up to the Derby over 10 furlongs.

If a market were framed on the likely Derby favourite, another former Irish inmate of Gibson’s, also carrying the yellow silks of property tycoon Pan Sutong, would probably head the list: Akeed Mofeed, formerly trained by John Oxx, who was unlucky not to make a winning Hong Kong debut a week earlier over seven furlongs.

Gibson has another useful Irish import and Derby aspirant in the form of the Aga Khan-bred Mizani who won in Class 3 earlier this month, his first run since leaving Michael Halford’s team last summer.

[Akeed Mofeed (Dubawi) went on to win the Hong Kong Derby.

A winner of the Listed Platinum Stakes when trained by John Oxx, the colt won four races in Hong Kong and £2,256,304, including the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Cup, the Listed BMW Hong Kong Derby, and the Listed Centenary Vase.

A 10,000gns purchase by Ger Lyons, Gold-Fun won 10 races and £3,737,925in Hong Kong, notably the Group 2 Jockey Club Mile, Group 2 Jockey Club Sprint, Sha Tin, Listed Sha Tin Trophy, Listed Chairman’s Sprint Prize, Listed Hong Kong Classic Mile, Listed Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup, Listed National Day Cup, and Listed Celebration Cup.

He was third in the Hong Kong Derby and was beaten a neck into second place in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2016.

Mizani didn’t scale these heights, but won three times and was listed-placed]

Reading too many Dick Francis novels


THE Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle led to the fourth appearance before the stewards in three days for the champion jockey John Francome.

This time the Kempton stewards delved into his riding of Al Kuwait, who dropped out in the straight. After hearing his evidence that the horse had hurt his back at Ascot and had not run for two months, the stewards displayed their scepticism by recording his explanation.

John is entitled to be disturbed by events last week, particularly at Newton Abbot on Thursday when he was asked to explain his riding in no less than three races. One explanation was accepted, another recorded. On the third occasion, the stewards, to everyone’s amazement, decided to report his riding of Win Green Hill in the novice hurdle to the Jockey Club.

At Newton Abbot, Win Green Hill drifted from 10/1 to 14/1 and Jim Old was merely a bit hopeful that she might run reasonably well in the bottomless ground. However, despite John’s efforts at restraint, she simply ran too free and finished, exhausted, in fifth place. Those facts are clear and indisputable. The groundless suspicions of the Newton Abbot stewards are another matter. Maybe they have been reading too many Dick Francis novels.

Despite jumping right, Golden Miller wins


WEATHER of an extreme severity in England has disturbed all plans this week, and it has hardly been fit for man or horse to go out of doors, let alone race.

It was a mercy that this wintry visitation did not come earlier, for in the final four days of last week we saw some of the best racing that we shall see this season. Foremost among them was Miss Paget’s great six-year-old, Golden Miller, who, at Hurst Park on Thursday, won the Mitre Handicap Chase with 12st 7lb.

Unfortunately, on account of the mist on the course, we could not see a great deal of the detail of the race, but, from several people who happened to be standing down the course at various points, I understand that at some of his fences, especially the third last, Golden Miller jumped away to the right.

Golden Miller has lately been developing this tendency of jumping to the right, because I saw him do it several times in the first mile of his race at Lingfield. After he had warmed up, however, he jumped truly enough. In spite of all, he is a very grand young chaser, the like of which I think we have not seen for many a day.

It is interesting to note the sums at which Golden Miller has changed hands from the time the son of Goldcourt and Miller’s Pride was sent by his breeder, Mr Laurence Geraghty of Dunshaughlin, to the Dublin sales in 1928.

Yearling - sold to Mr P. Quinn, of Fethard, for 100gns

Three-year-old - sold to Mr Galway-Greer for £300

Three-year-old - sold to Captain Dick Farmer on behalf of Mr Basil Briscoe, for £500

Four-year-old - sold by Mr Briscoe to the late Mr Philip Carr for £1,000

Four-year-old - sold by Mr Carr to Miss Paget for £6,000

Today, what is the value of Golden Miller? Well, he has no value, because no money could buy him from Miss Paget.

[Golden Miller went on to become the most successful Cheltenham Gold Cup horse ever, winning the race in five consecutive years between 1932 and 1936. He is the only horse to win both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same year, 1934]