Premiere serves notice in Chinese Recreation Club Challenge Cup
September 16, 2017 06:08am
Premiere wins 2017 Class 2 Chinese Recreation Club Challenge Cup Handicap
Photo: The Hong Kong Jockey Club

The Champion Griffin award traditionally celebrates the most promising youngsters on the rise in Hong Kong, and last season’s award recipient Premiere certainly showed himself to be on the right track after taking the Class 2 Chinese Recreation Club Challenge Cup Handicap (1000m) – one of five winners for Joao Moreira on Saturday’s (16 September) Sha Tin card.
John Size-trained Premiere (116lb) had won three races over the Happy Valley 1000m last season as a three-year-old to take the title, awarded to the best of the season’s young gallopers not to have raced pre-import. However, he had remained winless over the Sha Tin straight 1000m from five attempts.
On Saturday, though, he bounced straight to the lead and was not for catching, holding solid Class 2 benchmarks Archippus (133lb) and Country Melody (123lb) at bay by a length and a quarter.
“It was good to see him do it at Sha Tin,” Moreira said. “We knew he could do it at Happy Valley but there was still that query about the Sha Tin 1000m. However, he feels like a different horse now, he’s strengthened up a bit – his trials had indicated that – and that will take him a long way.
“When he started the race, his first step was awkward, and he also shifted out a bit and bumped the horse on his inside and got a little bit unbalanced. However, once he balanced up and got out to the lead, I could feel he was going to finish off because he was just travelling so strongly but kindly, too.”
It was a first win this season for reigning champion handler Size, who is seeking to win his 10th trainers’ title and his third in a row.
Premiere was one of two promising four-year-olds that Moreira was booked to ride at Saturday’s meeting. The other, Top Beautiful (120lb), was sent out a 1.6 favourite in the Class 3 Tailorbird Handicap (1000m) and faced a tough battle before prevailing by a short-head over Tony Cruz’s Beauty Master (132lb) to remain unbeaten from two starts.
“That was a better effort than it looked,” said Top Beautiful’s trainer Chris So. “The other day, he obviously won very easily but today he had to work for it, and I think there was merit in it too. He was up in class, which is not easy for a young horse, and the first two horses have come right away from the others so I think the form will be good.
“He’s a big horse so I will have to be careful with him but I think that was exciting again.”
Moreira earlier won two all-weather track races atop Frankie Lor-trained Diamond Friends in the Class 5 Lark Handicap (1650m) and Gran Master for Peter Ho in the Class 4 Shrike Handicap (1650m), while Francis Lui’s Diamond Mysterious was the middle pin of the five-timer.
Lui strikes with early-season treble
Diamond Mysterious was also the middle leg of a Lui treble, the Lonhro gelding recording his first win since May 2015 in the Class 4 Sunbird Handicap (1400m). The trainer credited a better gate for allowing the Brazilian rider to settle the six-year-old closer in the run, which proved a masterstroke when the horse eeked out a head victory over Experto Crede.
“Recently, he has been drawing badly and so he has been getting a long way back,” Lui said. “Even last start, when he did get a better barrier, he was squeezed out and ended up a long way from them. I discussed it with Joao and he said he thought he would be midfield, but I didn’t expect him to be in the box seat! I was glad he was though, and that is what makes him so good – he was able to get the horse into that spot.”
Lui often begins the season quickly, his last two three-timers coming on 1 October 2016 and 23 September 2015, and this term proved no different as he sent out three winners from four starters on Saturday.
Mordicus began the card with a powerful victory under Zac Purton in the Class 4 Cuckoo Handicap (1200m), leading all the way before easing to a three-length score.
“I am happy he managed to win a race,” Lui said. “He’s had all sorts of issues and it hasn’t been straightforward, but I think he has needed time and he looks like he has turned a corner. Hopefully he can carry on now, I think he can win in Class 3 for sure if he is right.”
Marvel Tribe completed the three-timer for Lui, giving Keith Yeung his first win for the season when he narrowly prevailed in the Class 3 Swallow Handicap (1200m).
“That was a tough win, and I think it shows how well he has come back this season,” the trainer said. “He’s an older horse now so he’s not getting any better, but in condition, he has been a different horse after the summer. He will have to tackle Class 2 company now and he’s always found it a bit tough in the past, but this will probably be his last chance to get a win up there.”
Elsewhere on the card, jockey Karis Teetan began his strong start to the season with a win aboard David Ferraris-trained London Master in the Class 4 Hwamei Handicap (1000m), while Vincent Ho also snared his first victory this term aboard Caspar Fownes’ Invisible in the Class 5 Magpie Handicap (1400m).
The last race went to the John Moore-Tommy Berry partnership with quirky galloper Green Card holding on to take the Class 3 Woodpecker Handicap (1400m).
Racing returns to Happy Valley on Wednesday night (20 September), with the first race scheduled for 7.15pm.
Source: The Hong Kong Jockey Club (Andrew Hawkins)


comments powered by Disqus

Related Pages

Top Stories