Hang’s Decision (120lb) set a new track record in winning Saturday's Hong Kong Reunification Cup Handicap (1400m), and, in doing so, handed Chris So and Brett Prebble a trainer/jockey double.
“It was a bit of a surprise for me because although his last few runs have been pretty good, this was Class 2 and Brett was putting up four pounds overweight,” So said after the 14/1 shot had raced two and a quarter lengths clear of runner-up Circuit Hassler (107lb). “If you’d asked me before the race if I was confident, I would have said ‘no’, but Brett did a great job today.”
Prebble settled the Postponed gelding in sixth, tracking a leading posse of five that had the trailblazing Line Seeker (123lb) at its head; the leader set hot opening fractions of 13.46s and 21.11s under 10lb claimer Matthew Poon.
The front rank faltered turning for home, and, after shifting out for daylight at the 400m point, the hooded Hang’s Decision knuckled down and battled to the lead past the 2.3 favourite My Darling under Joao Moreira, keeping on gamely as the deep closers ran on all too late.
Brett Prebble steers Hang’s Decision to win the Class 2 Hong Kong Reunification Cup Handicap (1400m) in a course record time, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
“I told Brett to sit in the middle and give him a kick but they went a lot faster than I thought they would in the early part of the race. Brett had him in a good spot and the three up ahead seemed to burn each other,” So said.
The five-year-old clocked 1m 20.31s to better the previous course record of 1m 20.40s set by Flaming Lamborgini in October, 2006, and matched by Pocket Money in April, 2007.
“It was a nice, tough win and I think there’s more scope in him,” Prebble said. “The handicapper’s going to take a good look with the four pounds overweight and the margin of victory, but there was nothing left in the margin – he didn't win soft – what you saw was what he had. He gave me his full effort.”
Prebble was a late call-up after Derek Leung was laid low with sickness, but with the replacement unable to ride at less than 120lb, 4lb heavier than the allotted 116lb, So sought and received permission from the stewards.
“When the stewards called and said Derek was sick, I had two choices and because Brett had ridden the horse before, I picked him,” the handler said.
The consistent five-year-old was notching his third win of the campaign at start 11, having also registered four seconds and a third.
“The horse deserves a lot of credit because he has done a good job right from the early season to now,” So said. “He’s very consistent and today he’s done a really fast time – a track record. He won despite putting up four pounds over, so hopefully the handicapper is kind to him.”
Prebble was brought down to earth with a bump when the gelding dropped him to the turf at the exit from the track, but the Australian kept on smiling as he remounted and clasped hands with So in celebration.
“He was funny going out, there was a lot of noise and he jammed my leg up against the pony and then there’s something that just spooked him when he went to come back in,” Prebble explained. “He’s a very honest horse. When I rode him last season he gave me a nice feel and he’s come a long way since then.”
Prebble and So also teamed up in race one, the Class 4 Racing Goes On Handicap (1200m). First starter Leisured Feet, sent off the 2/1 favourite, raced a handy second and quickened past the front-runner early in the stretch to win by a length and a quarter. The time was 1m 10.11s.
“We had a nice bunny,” Prebble said. “I was going to lead and they went a bit crazy so it ended up panning out nicely. He got a cart up; he got a bit star-gazy when he got the front but he’s entitled to do that. When the penny clicks he’ll be there at 1400 (metres) or a mile, I reckon. He’s not a sprinter, so there’s more to come when he steps up in distance.”