Excellent Peers Shapes As DBS X Manulife Million Challenge Contender

"It was a very good ride"

Frankie Lor will chase overall DBS x Manulife Million Challenge success with Excellent Peers after the gelding’s clinical victory in the Class 3 LONGINES Cup Handicap (1200m) under Matthew Chadwick at Happy Valley on Wednesday (19 October) when Vincent Ho, Zac Purton, Francis Lui and Chris So all figured prominently.

Excellent Peers storms clear (Pic – HKJC)

Victory in the evening’s feature elevated Excellent Peers to 21 points in the DBS x Manulife Million Challenge, nine points behind joint leaders Nearly Fine and Street Scream, who are also bidding for the HK$650,000 first prize in the series featuring races of Class 3 or above from 14 September, 2022 to 8 February, 2023.

“I will keep him at Happy Valley, he likes it here, and maybe we can try and win the series,” said Lor, one of six trainers and jockeys to snare doubles on Wednesday night. “He was fitter tonight and you saw how well he ran.”

Posting his third victory over the city circuit’s 1200m course, the Jimmy Choux gelding also gave Chadwick a double after his success atop Melbourne Hall in the first section of the Class 4 Swifty Handicap (1200m) in a display which earned the praise of trainer David Hall.

“It was a very good ride. It was a pretty tough barrier – seven – it’s not good and it’s not bad. He’s not a horse who can go forward and he’s not a horse who can go back. He’s not a horse who can win from the back. He’s not good enough to win from the back,” Hall said. “But he deserved to win that.”

Vincent Ho and Francis Lui were elated with the performance of Gold Gold Baby who overcame difficulties to snare the Class 4 Flying Handicap (1000m), despite trailing the majority of the field entering the home straight.

“I had a few doubts because I was so far away in the back straight – he couldn’t even keep up,” Ho said. “But I knew he was going to have a good turn of foot if those other horses were going too fast and were going to stop and I could catch them.

“So, at the top of the straight, I was pretty confident but it got a bit tight and I’m glad he was big enough and brave enough to keep going. “We’re getting his mind right and he is fitter now and we have confidence in him.”

Gold Gold Baby underwent throat surgery in March, 2021, impressing Lui with a tenacious recovery.

“He had the operation and it took him a long time to come back. We were lucky that he could come back to race, let alone win a race, and I’m very happy to see him do well,” Lui said.

Ho closed the meeting in style with a rousing win on Gallant Waking in the first section of the Class 3 Speedy Handicap (1200m) for Lui to have 12 wins for the campaign, 15 shy of five-time Hong Kong champion jockey Zac Purton (27).

Purton maintained his perfect record aboard Lor-trained Lucky Archangel with success in the second section of the Class 4 Swifty Handicap (1200m). Jumping from barrier five, the Deep Field gelding eased off heels in the back straight before striking decisively. Purton won at his only other ride on the five-year-old last season.

Riding in peak form, Purton gave a brilliant display aboard Chris So’s Exceptional Nice to clinch the second section of the Class 4 Horsepower Handicap (1650m), providing So with a stable double after Legion Of Merit underlined his liking for the Happy Valley with his second victory at the circuit with a dogged performance to land the first section of the Class 4 Horsepower Handicap (1650m) under Alexis Badel.

Amazing One Plus, who finished fifth to Masar in the 2018 Gr1 Epsom Derby (2405m) for Dermot Weld when known as Hazapour after winning the Gr3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial (2000m) at Leopardstown, broke through at his 23rd Hong Kong attempt for Benno Yung and Jerry Chau in the Class 3 Racing Spirit Handicap (1650m).

Hong Kong racing continues on Sunday afternoon (23 October) at Sha Tin with the running of the HK$5 million G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m).

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