A Chill Settles Over Happy Valley

Class 3 Dunnottar Castle Handicap on Wednesday

Chill Chibi took another significant step towards the HK$26 million BMW Hong Kong Derby in March after Danny Shum’s talented young stayer overpowered older rivals to win the Class 3 Dunnottar Castle Handicap at Happy Valley on Wednesday.

With four wins and a narrow second from five starts, Chill Chibi has emerged as a leading contender for the lucrative 2024 Four-Year-Old Classic Series, which features the Hong Kong Classic Mile on 4 February, the Hong Kong Classic Cup on 3 March and the BMW Hong Kong Derby on 24 March.

Jerry Chau guides Chill Chibi to an impressive triumph (Pic – HKJC)

Shum, who tasted BMW Hong Kong Derby success with Romantic Warrior in 2022, confirmed Chill Chibi would continue towards the blue-riband contest after the Wrote gelding fanned to the outside of the 10-horse field and charging from last approaching the turn to win arrogantly under Jerry Chau.

“He’s a nice horse and he’s getting better day by day. Even though he carried top weight, I was still confident he could win the race,” Shum said.

“I can enter him (next) over 2000m at Sha Tin or run him in a 1650m Class 2 at Happy Valley. After that, we’ll give him a bit of a break and go straight to the Derby. I will talk to Jerry and decide which one is the best for him.”

Asked if the four-year-old was the best horse he had ridden, Chau said: “I think so, he’s got potential. He’s a fantastic horse, he’s got a good heart and every time he fights for me.

“The early stages today, he can’t catch up with the pace but when I started to ask him to go, I didn’t want to get into a traffic jam, and he showed his talent.”

Chau completed the card in memorable fashion when Son Pak Fu surged along the fence to eclipse a hot field in the Class 2 Eilean Castle Handicap for Benno Yung.

Watch Buddy prevails for Alexis Badel (Pic – HKJC)

Posting his sixth victory over Happy Valley’s 1200m course, Son Pak Fu accelerated sharply from the home turn, clocking 22.50s over the final 400m to defeat Majestic Knight and Howdeepisyourlove.

Pierre Ng extended his remarkable start to the season with Humble Star’s success in the Class 3 Edinburgh Castle Handicap under Zac Purton to give the stable a phenomenal 15 winners across the past eight meetings and 27 for the season, nine clear of Douglas Whyte, Francis Lui, Shum and Caspar Fownes, who all have 16 victories.

“We’re getting them rolling and the horses are running brilliantly at the moment,” said Ng, who has saddled 11 of his winners this term at Happy Valley.

Whyte has also made a strong opening to the campaign and the 13-time Hong Kong champion jockey continued an impressive strike rate by combining with South African compatriot Keagan De Melo, who piloted Wonder Years to victory in the Class 4 Stirling Castle Handicap.

Alexis Badel and Ricky Yiu teamed to clinch the Class 4 St Andrew’s Challenge Quaich Handicap with Watch Buddy, a talented Rothesay four-year-old who now has two wins at the course and distance.

“It worked out pretty well, obviously the draw (barrier one) was important. He was carrying plenty of weight and there was pace in the race, so I was travelling comfortably on the inside and it was pretty straight-forward,” Badel said.

“We just had to quicken and sustain the effort and he was pretty good.”

Angus Chung continued his strong run of form at Happy Valley when Manfred Man’s Happy Horse won the Class 5 Kinfauns Castle Handicap.

With 18 wins this season, Chung sits in fourth place behind Zac Purton, Karis Teetan and Hugh Bowman, having slotted 11 victories this season at Happy Valley, where he has posted winners at the past four meetings.

Yung posted his sixth win of the season, and the first leg of a double, when Turtle Again cruised to an easy victory in the Class 5 Crookston Castle Handicap under Derek Leung before John Size and Brenton Avdulla posted their fifth winner of the season in tandem with Act Of Faith’s success in the Class 4 Balmoral Castle Handicap.

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday 3 December.

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