The market expected a John Moore-trained winner of the Class 1 Ambitious Dragon Handicap (1400m), the undercard feature on BMW Hong Kong Derby day on Sunday, and the handler duly saluted in a portent of things to come in the Derby itself later on the Sha Tin card. However, unlike the four-year-old feature, it was not the Moore victor that the market expected as favourites Invincible Dragon and Helene Paragon were upstaged by Dashing Fellow in a tactical five-horse race.
Class 1 Hong Kong Macau Trophy Handicap (1400m) winner Invincible Dragon (115lb) was sent out the 1.6 favourite with Joao Moreira aboard, while two-time G1 victor Helene Paragon also had supporters for jockey Tommy Berry at 3.4, despite being burdened with 133 pounds. Dashing Fellow did have support late, backed into 5/1, but he was a clear third elect from the Moore yard.
“Dashing Fellow just kept kicking to the line because he’s a warhorse,” Moore said of the Karis Teetan-ridden Duporth gelding. “He’s genuine as the day is long and he just kept kicking to the line, and just the weight pull told the tale at the end of the race. They let him dictate, he goes at his own speed and that was it, he was always going to be hard to pass.”
Karis Teetan drives Dashing Fellow to the line to win the Class 1 Ambitious Dragon Handicap (1400m) over Contentment (Brett Prebble), picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
A stirring spectacle of all five runners stretched across the track at the 200m suggested backmarkers Invincible Dragon and Helene Paragon were about to assert their superiority, but it was long-time leader Dashing Fellow who staved off all challenges to record a neck victory over John Size-trained Contentment (129lb). Invincible Dragon was a further length away in third, with Helene Paragon last of the five runners, four and a quarter lengths from the winner.
“He hated the ground, Helene Paragon,” Moore said. “He was floundering with the weight and he was struggling in the going. But this was just a handicap and he has bigger targets. I think he would handle it with, say, 126 pounds on his back, but not with 133 pounds. Invincible Dragon, he wasn’t comfortable on the ground. He did win at Saint-Cloud on soft going before he came here, but this is a different type of soft – here, it is shifting on top, whereas you get right into the ground at Saint-Cloud.”