Ng Edges Two Wins Clear Of Lui

At Sha Tin on Monday

Pierre Ng reclaimed the ascendancy in the rollercoaster tussle for the 2023/24 Hong Kong trainers’ championship with a crucial double at Sha Tin on Monday to edge two wins clear of Francis Lui.

Super Bonus seals a Pierre Ng double at Sha Tin

Super Bonus (Andrea Atzeni) seals a Pierre Ng double at Sha Tin (Pic – HKJC)

With only four meetings left in the season, Ng leads Lui 67-65 after Alexis Badel piloted Gangnam Star to victory in the Class 5 Uncompromising Integrity Handicap and Super Bonus won the Class 4 Guangdong-Hong Kong Cup Handicap under Andrea Atzeni.

“Brilliant. I’m quite happy. At this stage, I just have to keep going. Hopefully we get more winners in the next few meetings,” Ng said of the championship standings.

“Andrea told me he lost his iron out of the gates, on Super Bonus, but managed to pick it back up. Luckily the pace wasn’t that fast – they did the first section in 24.35s, which is quite easy for him to roll along.

“He was three-wide all the way, but he’s made improvement. He used to just stop or want to get away from horses in the straight, but now he’s more straightforward and finishes off hard.”

Gangnam Star triumphed at his 12th start.

“He took a bit of time to get his first win. He was very difficult from the start when he came to Hong Kong, so he needed time to get settled down. When we tried to run him, last October, he had a heart problem, so then we had to step back again and start him later on,” Ng said.

“It’s good that he can find some confidence today to hit the front because he’s a thinker – he’s always thinking what to do and what not to do. He won well.”

While Ng shared training honours with Chris So, Lyle Hewitson snared a treble with wins on So-trained pair Flying High and Parterre before saluting on Michael Chang’s Ching in the Class 3 Better Future Handicap.

“Just really happy, I came to the meeting thinking I had a decent book,” Hewitson said. “I didn’t think there was a standout, but the cards fell in my favour and everything worked out really well.

“To cap it off with Ching was great. He’s been a special horse to me in Hong Kong and, like Chris So’s horses, Ching was beautifully prepared, and I was the lucky recipient.”

Zac Purton logged a brace on a pair of promising talents – Bottomuptogether, who is unbeaten after three starts following his searing win in the Class 3 Sportsmanship Handicap and Amazing Fun, who made an impressive debut with success in the Class 4 Racing Goes On Handicap for Dennis Yip.

In the saddle for each of Frankie Lor-trained Bottomuptogether’s victories, Purton said: “He did a really good job. He had barrier one, but he came under pressure mid-race, which I didn’t appreciate. He let down well in the straight, he’s done a good job.”

Ridden quietly by Purton, Tivaci gelding Amazing Fun clocked 56.22s up the straight course.

“He’s got ability, this horse. Early in the season I trialled him and he was very good but at that stage he didn’t relax,” Yip said. “After that he was ready to race, but he got injured. I put him in Conghua and told my son to teach him to relax in the morning.

“The horse is now very relaxed and it’s lucky this race was there for him. When he passed the other horses, Zac said he didn’t know what to do and the horse was looking around a bit. He needs time to keep improving.”

Chiu Chow Spirit wins the Hong Kong Reunification Cup

Chiu Chow Spirit (Alexis Badel) wins the Hong Kong Reunification Cup (Pic – HKJC)

Alexis Badel also achieved a double and predicted a bright future for Manfred Man’s Chiu Chow Spirit after the former Australian galloper’s victory in the Class 2 Hong Kong Reunification Cup Handicap.

“Brave horse, very good quality – he deserved this,” Badel said after the Frenchman threaded a gap along the fence to deny Tomodachi Kokoroe by a short head to earn a PP Bonus of HK$1.5 million plus the winner’s purse of HK$1.59 million.

“I’m very happy, Manfred has been a good supporter and I’m happy that they stuck with me on the horse and I’m happy that I could deliver.

“I was a bit worried about the draw because with the small field and from that gate (9), I was worried about finding the right spot. But it worked out well, the pace was good enough and this horse has really got a great turn of foot – he can out-sprint the field.

A Group 3 winner for Tony and Calvin McEvoy when he raced as Twin Stars in Australia, took his Hong Kong career earnings to beyond HK$7 million with his second Sha Tin win.

Flying High made it five course and distance wins after unleashing a powerful finish to clinch the CMA 90th Anniversary Cup Handicap before Parterre controlled the speed before fending off Giant Leap to land Class 4 Serving The Community Handicap.

Jimmy Ting’s Smiling Collector held on courageously to defy Forerunner and land the Class 4 Continuous Development Handicap for Harry Bentley before Ricky Yiu-trained Mighty Strength prevailed in another tight finish to snare the Class 4 Riding High Together Handicap.

Hong Kong International Sale graduate Harmony N Home posted his first win since March 2021 with victory in the Class 5 World-Class Leadership Handicap under Matthew Poon for Danny Shum.

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Thursday.

 

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