The 1200m HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup was the feature race on the card for the opening meeting of the Hong Kong season on Sunday, 14 September. The race was won in emphatic style by Golden Harvest, showing good progress from last season and prompting early talk of the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races.
“First up last year we got beat in a Class 3 at Happy Valley; needless to say, now we’re winning a Class 1, he’s made a huge leap,” said trainer Tony Millard. “He ran a very fast time here today and with a little bit of luck we can maybe even get him into the International Races in December because the 1200m looks a little open – some of those older sprinters have already done their job. With a little bit more improvement, which he’ll have to find, I think he has a chance of getting his ticket.”
Golden Harvest was rated 75 when turned over on his seasonal debut last term: eight races and two wins later, he lined up primed to make his mark against 10 smart rivals in today’s main event rated 104.
“Joao (Moreira) and I sat down and had this plan,” said Millard. “We had to give him a fair amount of work and then back off him, and the plan worked. We certainly put a lot of concentration into this one and it came off.”
With Moreira utilising his mount’s early speed from gate 11 to find a comfortable berth in midfield, the highly-touted race favourite Peniaphobia cut out the running under Matthew Chadwick. The talented three-year-old was still in front with the Sha Tin straight rapidly diminishing – in front but not in command.
Smart Volatility loomed on the leader’s flank at about the 300m and Golden Harvest was quick to make a line of three. With 250m to race Peniaphobia had shot his bolt, leaving the Howard Cheng-ridden Smart Volatility and Golden Harvest to vie for the spoils. Golden Harvest edged ahead with 150m remaining and Moreira’s mount maintained a neck advantage to the wire as he clocked a sharp 1m 08.37s. Peniaphobia battled on to finish a further three quarters of a length back in third.
“It wasn’t an easy run there, he was drawn 11, so you take all of that into account and it was a very good run,” said Millard. “I hope that he comes back well and we’ll have a go at another one, and then it might be one more and then the International.”
The first race of the 2014/2015 Hong Kong season went to jockey Brett Prebble and trainer Derek Cruz as the 10-year-old Double Dragon took the Class 5 Tim Wa Handicap under top-weight.
Doug Whyte posted a win in the second race on the card aboard Me Tsui-trained Just Mistere as well as notching 3 additional places on the day’s card.
Champion Jockey Zac Purton got off the mark in Race 5 with a stunning late blitz to snatch the Harcourt Handicap (1000m) in the very last stride aboard the Benno Yung-trained Sensation. He added a second thanks to Hidden Value in race 7 for Champion Trainer Caspar Fownes.
The riding honours went to Moreira though, with the Brazilian completing a treble thanks to wins on the John Moore-trained Supreme Falcon and the David Hall-trained Bundle Of Joy.
Turnover for the day was HK$1.139 billion (up over 10% from last year) with a whopping crowd of 74,000 in attendance.