Enrichment (122lb) all but booked his BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) berth with a solid victory in the Class 2 Daffodil Handicap (2000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The John Size-trained gelding had shown up well in three starts over a mile this term and relished this afternoon’s longer trip. Jockey Joao Moreira rated the Australian import at the head of the main pack, biding his time as Packing Warrior (123lb) cut out the running from Charity Go (123lb).
Charity Go took the lead from the fading front-runner with 350m to race but Enrichment galloped past both of those fellow Derby wannabes to win by a length and a half in 2m 01.27s. The five-year-old Savvy Six (123lb) stayed on to mug Charity Go for second.
“Enrichment does have the quality and he should get in the Derby, he deserves that,” Moreira said. “He’s the kind of horse that likes a good, strong tempo, he’s a proper stayer.
“The 2000 metres, for him, is probably the shortest that he would like and I think he’d appreciate a bit farther.”
Another Derby hope, Tigre Du Terre, was scratched from the race when he reached the start.
Enrichment and Joao Moreira, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Trainer Jimmy Ting took the opener when apprentice Dylan Mo made all on Richcity Fortune, and another local rider, Keith Yeung, drove the Benno Yung-trained Chiu Chow Kid to victory in race five. Mo nailed a brace when the Peter Ho-trained I Am Power was a cosy winner of the 1000m Class 3, from the Whyte-ridden Seven Heavens.
The early part of the card brought a good debut for the Dennis Yip-trained four-year-old Prince Of Gems, who took the Class 4 Cineraria Handicap (1200m) by a length and a quarter under Zac Purton.
Race four saw the three-year-old Coby Oppa live up to his American dirt pedigree to win the Class 4 Daisy Handicap (1200m) under Karis Teetan. Frankie Lor’s charge was having his second outing and his first on the all-weather track.
Trainer Tony Millard was at the Inglis Classic Yearling Sale in Australia but that didn't stop his Hong Kong International Sale Graduate (ISG) Super Star improving his record to two wins from four starts in the Class 4 Orchid Handicap (1400m).
Silvestre de Sousa was in the plate for that success and the in-form Brazilian wrapped up a treble for himself and Lor when another ISG, the six-year-old Noble De Love, won the Class 3 Peony Handicap (1200m) on the dirt, followed by Right Choice in the finale, the Class 3 Rose Handicap (1400m).
That last race saw Whyte deliver the John Moore-trained debutant Uncle Steve on a well-judged run to place fourth, despite breaking from Gate 14. It may have been a defeat but the ride reminded the Sha Tin faithful exactly what they will be missing now that one of the sport’s finest tactical minds has hung up his saddle.
Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 13 February when a nine-race card, featuring the Hong Kong Airlines Million Challenge finale, will begin at 6.45pm.