Adefill was one of last season’s best performers on dirt and trainer Ricky Yiu has his sights set on further riches this campaign when the Deep Field gelding resumes in Wednesday’s Class 3 Shek Uk Shan Handicap on Sha Tin’s eight-race all-dirt programme.
Adefill advanced out of sight once he traded in the turf for dirt. He posted a hat-trick of wins from six starts on the surface, including one almighty score by over six lengths, while his other three outings haven’t seen him finish worse than third.
“Comparing his form on the dirt in trials and races, well, he’s half a class better than when he is on the turf – he’s a different horse and some horses are like that,” Yiu said.
The 72-rating five-year-old returns first-up following three barrier trials under jockey Karis Teetan. He finished first in his most recent trial by a commanding four lengths at Sha Tin.
“I’m really happy with him. His trials have been good, he hasn’t put a step wrong and he’s in good nick. Karis Teetan is on him and he knows the horse well,” Yiu said.
Wednesday’s contest features a strong fleet of contenders, including Fiery Diamond and So We Joy, winners on dirt, while lightly raced prospects Perfect Team and Nordic Star have shown an affinity for Hong Kong racing’s alternate surface.
“We’ll keep Adefill on the dirt for the time being but I think if we move up the classes, then it’s not easy to find dirt races for him, so we might switch to the turf again,” Yiu said.
Teetan has three wins atop Adefill and takes the reins on Wednesday from gate eight.
“Anywhere from 1400m to a mile is good, when he jumps he’s not as quick as his first season. He is a horse who keeps developing and keeps growing,” Yiu said.
Cody Mo moved to three wins on Sunday at Sha Tin and the handler saddles a pair of runners on Wednesday, including last-start winner Happy Fat Cat in the first section of the Class 4 Tin Ha Shan Handicap.
“It was amazing that he could fight back in the straight. He’s on the dirt, Angus Chung stays on and you’ve seen before the horse has performed well on the dirt, so I hope he can keep his form,” Mo said. “He’s normal at home, he’s feeling good.”
Mo also has True Legend engaged in the Class 2 Hebe Hill Handicap, pitted against Pierre Ng’s Apache Pass, who returns to Hong Kong after finishing ninth in the Gr3 Korea Cup on 10 September at Seoul in South Korea.
“He recovered ok from the travel, I wouldn’t say well, just ok. He trialled a bit laidback and after this trip he is more laidback than before,” Ng said.
Apache Pass is a three-time winner over Wednesday’s track and distance.
“We’re just aiming for all of the dirt races this season and we’ll see what happens. I’m not sure his rating is high enough to travel to Dubai, but still, we have to do well in Hong Kong first,” Ng said.
The four-time dirt-winning Youthful Deal also lines up in Wednesday’s feature race.
The Ng-trained Duke Wai placed third in Sunday’s HK$5.35 million Gr2 Premier Bowl Handicap behind Sight Success and Lucky Sweynesse at Happy Valley. The chestnut gelding next contests 19 November’s Gr2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint.
“I was definitely happy with his run, I’d be happier if he had a gap to go through and see what he could do. It wasn’t a clear run for him, I’m not saying he could win but maybe finish half a length closer,” Ng said.
Chancheng Prince is a four-time winner on dirt, and he’ll represent trainer Francis Lui in the Hebe Hill Handicap. The American-bred six-year-old has drawn barrier 12.
“He’s good on the dirt. Andrea Atzeni rides. He trialled well, hopefully he races the same,” Lui said.
Lui has five entries at the fixture, including last-start second Euro Rocks in the Class 3 Pyramid Hill Handicap. The Swiss Ace gelding steps away from barrier 10.
“He ran well last start. We’ll need luck,” Lui said.
Lovero makes a fascinating first appearance in the same contest for trainer Tony Cruz and seven-pound claiming apprentice Angus Chung. The Japanese-bred son of Lord Kanaloa won twice pre-import in Japan at Hakodate and Tokyo.
Wednesday’s eight-race all-dirt fixture at Sha Tin kicks off at 13h15 with the Class 5 Wa Mei Shan Handicap.