Graham Cunningham rounds up the latest news from the Hong Kong racing scene ahead of Happy Valley's eight-race card on Sky Sports Racing on Wednesday.
Rain has hit Hong Kong this week but the forecast is much better for Happy Valley's latest Wednesday fixture. A few trainers are taking time to get going as a new season gathers pace but the leading jockeys have all hit the ground running and Zac Purton and Joao Moreira both have full books on an eight-race card which gets under way at 12.15 on Sky Sports Racing.
Clock ticking for Master Miler v Golden boy
Winning big races with eight-year-olds isn't meant to be easy. But it helps if you've already won one of Australia's biggest races with a nine-year-old and David Hayes feels Beauty Generation can keep Father Time at bay after his new recruit came through a barrier trial at Sha Tin on Tuesday.
Fields Of Omagh was nine when he won the 2006 Cox Plate on his farewell appearance for Hayes and the affable Aussie sees a resemblance between his old star and his new one.
"The old champs tend not to be blockbuster workers but I thought Beauty Generation was strong through the line and, more importantly, Zac Purton said he felt like his old self," said Hayes. Another gallop is planned for next week and the acid test of whether HK's master miler retains his dash will come when he bids for a fourth Celebration Cup success against up-and-coming HK Derby hero Golden Sixty on September 27th.
Fownes goes full throttle as Field blooms again
Caspar Fownes enjoyed an eventful five minutes as he watched his up-and-coming sprinter Sky Field continue his progression at Sha Tin on Sunday. One minute he was growling anxiously as Joao Moreira ran the risk of getting locked in a pocket aboard the odds-on favourite; the next he was moonwalking for the cameras after Sky Field bounded clear; and to finish he performed a passable impression of supercar hitting full throttle as he reached for the perfect metaphor.
Having said supercar parked outside always helps on these occasions - and Fownes has a snazzy white Lamborghini - but HK's most colourful handler kindly described the sensation for the rest of us as he reflected on a success that matched style with substance as Sky Field stormed clear to record the fastest closing 400m split (22.25s) on the ten-race card without being at all hard ridden.
He said: "It's like driving my Lambo where you can just sit back in four and then drop it down two gears and go VROOOM! He's certainly going the right way to be a horse who could make a name for himself in HK."
Luck of the draw still a key factor
'Different track, same theme' is the short summary when assessing the effects of the draw for Happy Valley's midweek meeting. All eight races over the B course last week fell to horses drawn 6 or lower and, although the rail is out wider in the C position this time, the stats still suggest a low draw confers a definite edge over 1200m and 1650m.
For the record, 27 of the last 64 races over 1200m on the C track have fallen to horses drawn 1-3. The low bias is stronger still over 1650m, with 22 of the last 47 winners drawn 1-3, while a measly 3 per cent win rate for those drawn 10-12 shows just how hard it is to offset a wide gate over the tight, turning extended mile.
Teetan joins 400 Club
It must feel good to be Karis Teetan these days. The Mauritian Magician ended last season in rare form and his hot streak continued at Sha Tin when Douglas Whyte's AW specialist Will Power formed the middle leg of a treble to give him the 400th success of his HK career.
Teetan left Mauritius "with nothing in my pocket" to join the South African Jockey Academy while still short of his 14th birthday. Now 30 and married to partner Xaviere, his 401 HK winners have amassed well over £50m in prize money and, slowly but surely, the gap between him and Purton and Moreira is gradually closing.
Drains take the strain after Saturday storms
HK's skyline was ablaze with 2000 lightning strikes on Saturday night but Sha Tin's draining properties are famous and 100mm of rain overnight barely made a dent in the racing surface for Sunday's card.
Former Newbury MD Stephen Higgins is in his fourth year as HKJC head of race day operations and has no doubt that a similar deluge would usually put paid to racing in the UK. "We had 100mm before Super Sprint weekend at Newbury some years ago and lost the Friday and Saturday plus an Arabian meeting on the Sunday," he said. "But the Sha Tin track is constructed like high quality green on a golf course. It's an amazing surface and the ground stayed good with times hovering around standard all day despite the storms."