Duke Wai takes his record to six wins from 20 starts. Photo by HKJC.

Barrier manners do the trick for Duke Wai in the Sha Tin feature

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member


By Leo Schlink, for the HKJC.


Paul O’Sullivan’s decision to embark on a remedial course in barrier manners for Duke Wai paid rich dividends when the reformed gelding landed the Class 2 Hoi Ha Handicap (1200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (28 March).

Frustrated by the five-year-old’s habit of botching starts, O’Sullivan requested permission to use a blindfold on the chestnut and, with the cooperation of barrier staff and starter Tony Speechley, O’Sullivan’s toil was rewarded in the HK$2.2 million contest.

“The problem has been that he jumps in the air when the gates open, he’s been rocking up and jumping up in the air,” the New Zealander said.

“Tony Speechley said they’ve now got a man on his tail in the barriers, so they walk in the gate (with the horse), put a blindfold on in the gate and as soon as he’s got the blindfold on, he just stands still.

“If you’re lucky enough, you coincide getting the blindfold off pretty closely with the jump.

“We’ve been doing it the last three starts and he’s pinged it – he deserved that win, he’s a good tough horse.”

The neck margin Duke Wai held over The Crown, who charged from midfield, in the highlight race of the program vindicated the value of O’Sullivan’s horsemanship and provided the Kiwi trainer and apprentice Jerry Chau with doubles.

Chau posted his 32nd winner of the season with Duke Wai after earlier delivering a precision front-running display on Super Ten for Douglas Whyte to prevail in the first section of the Class 4 Wong Chuk Wan Handicap (1400m).


“We nearly got beat (on Duke Wai) but Mr O’Sullivan told me to jump him out first because sometimes he jumps slowly,” Chau, 20, said.

“Two starts ago, we tried the blindfold before he jumped and we did the same thing today and it worked. Today, he was very strong and I let him roll forward – I didn’t want to push him and today he just kept going.

“Getting a double is very good for me and it’s also very good that I was able to ride a winner for my boss (Douglas Whyte).”

Zac Purton hailed Winner Method’s class after the Deep Field gelding maintained his unbeaten run with victory in the Class 3 Lai Chi Chong Handicap (1000m), his third consecutive success over Sha Tin’s 1000m course.

“He had to dig deep for it,” Purton said after Danny Shum’s speedster momentarily lost touch with leader and eventual runner-up Brilliant Fortune halfway up the straight.

“But there was a little bit of (a tail) wind today, which helped, but he was never in his rhythm today – he was always under pressure, he was struggling to keep up and then he was gone a long way out.

“I really had to start riding him hard and I was just hoping I could stay in touch with Joao (Moreira) because I thought his horse (Brilliant Fortune) would be soft on the line and my horse would be strong.

“It was just a matter of staying in touch and, slowly but surely, we got there. I think the horse’s class got him there but I think he might be looking for further now.”


Winner Method takes his record to a perfect three.
Winner Method takes his record to a perfect three.


Shum said: “He’s a good horse, no doubt, but he’s given me a headache now. Do I put him to 1200 metres or stick to the 1000 metres?

“You can see over the last 400 metres, Zac really had to get stuck in to make him go, which means they were going too fast. The time was really good, 55.24s – 1.1s faster than standard time – so that’s amazing for a horse with just three starts.

“So now I’ve got a good problem on my hands. I need to really study the film and work out what to do. For me, his condition is just 85 per cent – he’s not 100 per cent yet – but he’s got ability, no doubt.

“When you see him in his trials, he still throws his head around, he’s still got of improvement to come.”

Paul O’Sullivan praised Kungfumaster Panda after the veteran staved off a class drop with victory in the Class 4 Wong Ma Tei Handicap (2000m) under Derek Leung.

“Today was to prove if he had to go back to Class 5 to win again or stay in Class 4 and he’s won right at the bottom of Class 4 – it doesn’t get any easier for him,” O’Sullivan said.

“He’s done a great job this season – he’s won a couple of races.”

Leung completed a double with success in the Class 3 Pak Sha O Handicap (1200m) on Good View Clarico for Dennis Yip.

Joao Moreira continued another astonishing season with a brace.


Gallant Express makes a winning debut.
Gallant Express makes a winning debut.


The Brazilian started the sequence on Winwin Thirtythree in the Class 5 Yung Shue O Handicap (1400m) for Ricky Yiu before combining with John Size aboard debutant Gallant Express, who snared the Class 4 Tai Mong Tsai Handicap (1200m).

Moreira’s compatriot Ruan Maia found the winner’s enclosure with City Legend for Benno Yung in the second section of the Class 4 Wong Chuk Wan Handicap (1400m), timing a winning surge on the seven-year-old gelding to perfection.

After 31 winless outings, City Legend has now posted successive victories.

Yiu notched a double through Golden Link, who triumphed in the Class 3 Sham Chung Handicap (1400m) for Matthew Chadwick.

G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint champion Danon Smash added further lustre to his record with victory in the G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1200m) at Chukyo Racecourse, Japan.

Revelling in the conditions, Danon Smash denied star filly Resistencia and Indy Champ. All three are entered for the FWD Champions Day meeting with Danon Smash and Resistencia nominated for the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m).

Indy Champ is entered for both the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) and the G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m).

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin this Wednesday (31 March).


Photo by HKJC.

Barrier manners do the trick for Duke Wai in the Sha Tin feature

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member



Mark this date down on your calendar, October 12. Aethero versus Voyage Warrior, two rockets launching over 1000m at Sha Tin. Oh, and adding some more spice, Joao Moreira replaces archrival Zac Purton on Aethero, with the Australian already booked to ride Voyage Warrior.

The mouth-watering clash between two of Hong Kong’s best young sprinters comes about after it all went wrong for Aethero last weekend in his Class 2 debut over 1200m.

It was a horror watch for backers of the favourite and the defeat has forced trainer John Moore into a re-think of Aethero’s program. The Hong Kong Sprint is still the aim, but Moore is wary of another deep-end experience at Group 2 level next start and is also aware the 89-rated three-year-old now needs a big win if he is to make the field in December.

“It’s all about getting that rating up,” said Moore, who will also enter 92-rated Thanks Forever in the same race.

“He (Aethero) was still obviously very green. But now he will be fitter for that and comes back to a much simpler task.

“I don’t care Voyage Warrior is there, we can’t avoid one horse, and we need the ratings points.”

Voyage Warrior’s trainer Ricky Yiu had a spring in his step earlier on Thursday morning when talking about his star, due to trial on Friday, but that was before he had been told Aethero would be there.

“That might ruin Ricky’s day when he finds out Aethero is going to be there,” Moore said. “It will be a great race and a measure of where both horses are at.”


Another record

It wasn’t hard to find an excuse for Aethero – he received 15 mentions in the incidents report, which might be a record – and history shows that Class 2 is a big step for young horses on the rise.

Amber Sky (1.2), Pakistan Star (1.4) and Moore’s former star Able Friend (2.5) were recent examples of hot favourites rolled over when stepping out in Class 2 for the first time.

All three went on to win Group 1s and Aethero has Group 1 quality written all over him. To have the torrid run he experienced at just his third start and still finish third was a sign of real quality.


Best chance to beat the champ

Was Tuesday’s Group 3 Celebration Cup the best chance for rivals to beat Beauty Generation this season? That was the view from some, citing the now seven-year-old’s soft condition as he returned from a long lay-off at a record weight of 1161 pounds.

Another opinion is that it will be second up over a mile for the Sha Tin Trophy that Beauty Generation will be most susceptible to having his 10-race winning sequence snapped.


Beauty Generation conceded weight all round and still won well fresh-up on Tuesday. Photo by HKJC.


Beauty Generation wasn’t the only horse underdone on Tuesday; the fast-finishing fourth Southern Legend was nowhere near ready, and he was given a easier time of it and allowed to go past tired horses late with a confidence builder. Next time he gets 15 pounds from Beauty Generation, who ran a track record time and was asked for some serious effort late.

So should those working on a Beauty Generation superannuation scheme fear the second-up bounce less than three weeks after the big first up effort? Moore was having none of it.

“I think he will be even better second up,” he said. “He has pulled up well and he will strip a lot fitter for that run.”


Record caveat 

On times: the phrase “track record time” does need to be treated with caution. It’s tracks that break records, not horses. A quick look in the opening pages of any racebook can tell you that, in most turf jurisdictions it often isn’t champions filling the record categories.

Silent Witness, whose 1000m record of 55.30s for the Class (Group/Premier) had stood for more than 14 years, is an exception, but Full Of Beauty lowered that by 0.34s on Tuesday. The placegetters Jolly Banner and Wishful Thinker both went faster too. The closest any of them will ever get to Silent Witness is when they go past his statue at the 300m mark.

The 1000m Sha Tin Class record (Group/Premier) held by Silent Witness was broken on Tuesday. Photo by HKJC.


Again, behind Beauty Generation in the Celebration Cup, runner-up Ka Ying Star lowered the old mark and Waikuku equalled it on a day when Sha Tin sizzled.

Times were well under standard on the undercard and, not surprisingly on a hot day, the track got faster as the meeting progressed with all but two of the other races more than half a second under standard time for the class.

Beauty Generation now holds three of Sha Tin’s track records, the 1400m mark sitting alongside distance bests at 1600m and 2200m.


Popular South African hating on the champ

The celebratory post-race Tweets of George Moore, son of John, caused some mirth when he claimed Beauty Generation “silenced the haters” with the dominant win.


What haters? The horse was $1.40 and was trending on Twitter.

Moore hinted that the Tweets were aimed at South African-trainer Tony Millard, who has enjoyed a feud with the bloodstock agent for many years now.

Millard has been bullish about the chances of his miler Singapore Sling beating Beauty Generation in the Sha Tin Trophy and is sure to have something entertaining to say in the lead-up.


Cut short

There was no Happy Valley meeting this week and racing returns to Sha Tin on Sunday with a 10-race card and we will be watching the clock with interest.

With the track running hot last Tuesday it will be interesting viewing as the maintenance team enter a difficult transitional period.

With the seasons changing, the track shifts from predominantly Bermuda to rye, and the grass needs to be cut shorter to allow the rye to poke through and see some sunlight.

Blue sky and less pollution, something that reached dangerous levels early in the week, is what is required.

The course proper crew cut can mean an even flatter, faster surface through November as the HKJC aim to produce a thick, green carpet for international day in December.




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