Encouraging (117lb) broke Beauty Generation’s track record and left John Moore astonished with a blazing win in the Class 1 Panasonic Cup Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin on Saturday.
“I’m taken aback by that and the way he did it, breaking the track record, but I have a nice horse on my hands,” Moore said.
The six-year-old’s tenacious triumph ensured apprentice Alfred Chan enjoyed the biggest day of his young career. But the 10lb claimer did not enjoy the easy lead he had anticipated thanks to the close attention of Waldorf (113lb), who vied for the front under Keith Yeung.
“I thought about giving the lead to Waldorf but he was an outsider and I didn't want to get trapped behind him,” Chan said.
Moore, watching from the stands, thought his in-form gelding’s chance had been blown by the attentions of the Tony Cruz-trained challenger.
“I was having a heart attack!” the trainer smiled. “When Waldorf went up and took him on, I thought he’d finish nowhere. It just shows the tenacity of the horse that he could keep up the gallop when Waldorf took him on and he had to keep going. It may have been the winning factor in the whole puzzle – or maybe he’s just in top form.
“I thought Good Standing was going to come and win it, I didn’t realise this horse would knuckle down like he did.”
Moore’s Good Standing (132lb), three lengths third at the turn for home, quickened with intent at the 300m mark but was unable to reel in the game victor.
Encouraging boxed on to win by a length and three quarters, stopping the timer at 1m 19.92s – Beauty Generation’s 1400m record, set when the champ carried top-weight in last month’s G3 Celebration Cup, stood at 1m 20.05s.
The Redoute’s Choice gelding has won five of 11 starts for Moore since transferring from the Michael Freedman stable around this time last year.
“He’s like a real good bottle of Pétrus: leave it in the cellar for a few years and it really improves. He’s just improved with age – he was beaten by a potential Group horse in Golden Sixty last time,” Moore said.
“He was going to run in the Chevalier Cup later this month but it looks like he might be out of it now with whatever the handicapper gives him for this win, but the second will go there. We’ll look at the Group 3 on 1 January for Encouraging.”
Chan, beaming and acceding to requests for waves and thumbs-up salutes for the cameras, was delighted and impressed in equal doses.
“That was an impressive run, to go that quick, head-to-head with Waldorf – my thought was that he might not finish off but he proved himself. The time was really quick and he still stayed to the last – he won very well,” he said.
“It’s my first time winning a Cup race in Hong Kong so I have to thank Mr. Moore for supporting me – this is my first win for him and hopefully there’ll be many more to come. I’ll keep working hard and looking to improve; I do feel more comfortable out there now.”
Encouraging’s win was the latest success by a horse prepared at the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Conghua Racecourse facility.
Encouraging and apprentice Alfred Chan, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Simply’s the best on debut
Simply The Best could prove to be well-named. The debutant was clearly too good for his rivals in the opener, the Class 4 Panashop Handicap (1200m) restricted to three-year-olds unraced prior to import.
Danny Shum’s charge looked anything but a novice as he quickened to an easy five and a quarter-length score under Moreira. The winning time was a swift 1m 08.86s, just 0.40s outside the Class record.
“Very few young horses can do what he has just done and no doubt he’s a promising one,” Moreira said.
“He looks and he feels very impressive and he gave big dues to his name – he was simply the best in the race. He was so professional, he did nothing wrong – he jumped well, travelled kindly on the bend and when I pressed him to speed up he responded quickly. With 300 metres to go I knew I was already the winner.”
Shum was delighted with the performance which he admitted had taken him a little by surprise.
“He trialled good and I thought he had a good chance but I didn't expect him to win so far, to be honest! It was only three-year-olds so I don't think it was a strong field,” he said.
Lai’s wait is over
Alex Lai was over the moon to nail his first win in almost exactly two and half years. The rider was sidelined for two seasons after fracturing his left wrist in a fall on 10 September 2017 – he returned to action on 1 September this year.
“It’s an excellent feeling – two years is a long time!” Lai said after guiding Mongolian Legend past the post in the Class 3 Panasonic Momi Momi Massage Lounger Handicap (1650m).
“I knew this horse had a chance on the dirt and Me Tsui (trainer) said he might be my first win back, so I’m pleased,” he said.
“It’s been difficult to get rides with Joao Moreira coming back and other lightweight riders coming in. All the stables have had a few jockeys already for their rides so it has been very difficult to get back into things and get rides with chances.
“All I can do is ask for rides and hope the trainers give me a chance: I have to hope they trust that I can still do the job.”
Badel is back
Alexis Badel arrived back in town before last weekend’s Sha Tin meeting and he bagged the first win of his winter contract aboard Unicornbaby in the Class 4 Panasonic 4K TV Handicap (1400m). The Frenchman overcame gate 13 and delivered the Richard Gibson-trained 26/1 shot for a neck victory.
“Badel gave the horse a fantastic ride,” Gibson said. “It’s great to have Badel back in Hong Kong because Hong Kong is a better place with him.”
Reeve’s Muntjac claimed a first win at his eighth outing to give trainer Dennis Yip his third win of the campaign. Umberto Rispoli drove the four-year-old to repel rivals by half a length in the Class 5 Panasonic Steam Oven Handicap (1800m).
Enfolding had finished second in five of his most recent seven starts but the Caspar Fownes-trained five-year-old nailed his first win at the 17th ask. Zac Purton produced the gelding with well-timed momentum to take the Class 4 Panasonic Double Mineral Nanoe Hair Dryer Handicap (1650m).
Purton made it two when Blastoise, from the in-form David Ferraris yard, took the Class 4 Panasonic R32 Refrigerant Air-Conditioner Handicap (1600m). And the champion jockey sealed a treble when Splendour And Gold took the Class 3 Panasonic IH Cooker Handicap (2000m) to give the Yip stable a double.
The Benno Yung-trained Super Junior dashed to a third career win down the 1000m straight. Derek Leung has been in the plate for each of the six-year-old’s victories, going back to February 2017, and today urged him to a neck score in the Class 3 Panasonic Justfit Thermo Ventilator Handicap (1000m).
Leung bagged a double when the Chris So-trained Lakeshore Eagle took the finale, the Class 3 Panasonic Japan System Kitchen Handicap (1400m).
Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 13 November.