Chadwick’s Golden contender
In Sunday afternoon’s penultimate contest at Happy Valley, the Class 2 Wong Chuk Hang Handicap (1650m), The Golden Age (123lb) will attempt to bring G3-winning French form to bear. Trainer Tony Cruz’s charge won the G3 Prix La Rochette (1400m) and was fourth in the G1 Prix Jean Luc Lagardere in 2016 when known as Kontrastat.
Like so many imports, the My Risk gelding struggled to acclimatise initially and showed little in three runs last term, but with that experience under his belt, the chestnut seems to be finding his feet.
“He’s come back a better horse, he’s come back fitter, he’s more mature now and his trial showed that he’s improved. Hopefully he can take that to the races,” said rider Matthew Chadwick, who was up top when The Golden Age skipped along on the front end to pass the post ahead of some useful gallopers in a Happy Valley barrier trial earlier this month.
“He went well over the 1700 (metres) that day and he had trouble with the shorter distances last year so Sunday’s distance shouldn’t be a problem,” he continued. “It’s very early days: he’s only a three-year-old. Last year he was very immature and hadn't acclimatised. He looks like a better horse but he’s still got to prove it on race day so we’ll take it one step at a time.”
Last start winner Sichuan Dar (129lb) heads the weights under Umberto Rispoli, who takes over from the suspended Chad Schofield. The Tony Millard-trained runner is a three-time course and distance winner in the grade.
“With a better draw he’d have a better chance,” Rispoli said. “Drawn 11, it’s not impossible, but it makes things a lot harder for him. We know at Happy Valley that the draw often makes a difference but at least it’s the A track and that could be a little advantage - horses come from behind. He’s in good form and he has every right to be one of the horses to be competitive in the race.”
The former Italian champion, who holds the record for most wins (245) in a season in his homeland, takes over on another last time winner in race eight, the Class 3 Tai Shue Wan Handicap (1650m), when he sides with the Cruz-trained Gold Land (132lb). The four-year-old was a two-time winner in Britain as Smuggler’s Moon.
“He won nicely last time for Sam (Clipperton) and it looks like he’s improved from last season. He has a good draw (gate two) but he’s not really a fast horse, but then it’s better to be there than on the outside. It looks like Tony Cruz’s horses are back on form and he’s a good chance.”
Clipperton is booked for the David Ferraris-trained Nitro Express (127lb), and the 12-strong field also features the likes of Jumbo Happiness (130lb) and Flying Quest (130lb).
Sunday’s card starts at 1pm with the Class 5 Heung Yip Handicap (2200m).
Gold Land breaks his local maiden at Happy Valley last start, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club