Fellow leads home Moore quinella in National Day Cup
The somewhat unpredictable nature of handicap racing came to the fore in the G3 National Day Cup Handicap (1000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday as John Moore-trained Dashing Fellow held off a raft of challengers to take the sprint feature, leading home a 1-2-4 for his handler.
Pre-race, the attention was on John Size’s trio – emerging star D B Pin (116lb), top-rated Mr Stunning (133lb) and last year’s winner Amazing Kids (129lb) – but they finished third, sixth and eighth respectively as Dashing Fellow caused an upset under homegrown rider Vincent Ho on a Good To Yielding surface softened by rain throughout the card.
“Well, that was a bit of a surprise, wasn’t it?” a shocked Moore quipped. “The track helped him I think, just took the sting out of the ground for him, but I still wasn’t expecting that in the slightest. He compounded in the trial and he was blowing down the house, although my horses do come on after their first trial.”
It was a second National Day Cup for both jockey and trainer since the race was shortened to 1000m in 2014, with Ho scoring aboard Bundle Of Joy that year and Moore victorious with Not Listenin’tome in 2015.
Dashing Fellow (No. 6) takes the National Day Cup (G3-1000m) under jockey Vincent Ho, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Dashing Fellow had support late to start at 24/1, on the eighth line of betting in the field of 10, and he was outpaced early as Peniaphobia (132lb), Mr Stunning and Fabulous One (115lb) cut out fast sectionals in front.
That trio was joined at the 600m by 2.7 favourite D B Pin, with Dashing Fellow just behind them and under riding. However, as the speedsters weakened, Ho switched the bay from his spot near the outside fence to a six-off path and started to challenge with stablemate Not Listenin’tome (130lb).
This pair raced clear in the centre of the track, with Dashing Fellow holding a neck advantage at the line over Not Listenin’tome and Tommy Berry, stopping the clock in a time of 56.59s. D B Pin was a length and a quarter away in third, with Moore’s Magic Legend (113lb) completing the top four.
“I am not too surprised about the win because when trainers like John Moore offer you a ride, you know that you have a chance,” Ho said. “We carried far less weight than Not Listenin’tome and that weight break was why we had the upper hand over the final stages. He sprinted very strongly, it was a good win.”
Dashing Fellow has made his name as a front-running type in 1400m contests, with all seven of his victories coming over the Sha Tin 1400m. Sunday was his first attempt at the 1000m straight course at start 35, and Moore believes that the race shape over the sharper trip suited the son of Duporth fresh.
“Dropping behind the solid tempo helped him and he had the stamina to come over the top. That, in addition to the light weight, was the key,” Moore said, a view echoed by Ho: “He always runs longer distances, so he was always going to get there. He doesn’t have the early speed to be fast enough for them, but he will always be strong to the line as long as he’s feeling comfortable – and he was feeling comfortable on that track today.”
Moore will now aim Dashing Fellow at the traditional path to the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint, beginning with the G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m) on 22 October, although he remains non-committal about December’s HK$18.5 million feature for the six-year-old.
“They are all about the same under handicaps, but put them at level weights and the big boys come right back into it,” Moore said. “He’ll find his way into the big races if we want to go there, the international sprint, but the owner knows what he is – he is a Group 3 handicap horse, that’s what he is, and if it had been level weights today he runs fourth or fifth.”
Not Listenin’tome and Magic Legend will head along the same path, with Moore particularly thrilled with the return of the former, winner of this race in 2015 and the G2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) in 2016.
“He’s run terrific with the big weight, I’m very happy,” he said. “He is right on track for the Premier Bowl and he will be a good chance in the Jockey Club Sprint and the Hong Kong Sprint too if he runs like that.
“Magic Legend will be a similar type to Dashing Fellow, we’ll look to these Group handicaps over sprint trips and see how far he gets.”
Karis Teetan, who partnered favourite D B Pin, said the Darci Brahma five-year-old got a “pass mark” for the effort.
“Throughout the race he travelled pretty easily and I thought he was going to quicken up better with no weight on his back,” he said. “He just took his time to get going and once he got up his momentum, he just stayed on, he didn’t really pick up. It was still an OK run though.”
Dashing Fellow was the first leg of a shock Moore double in the two stakes features at Sha Tin, with 17/1 shot Beauty Generation making all in the G3 Celebration Cup Handicap (1400m).