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Charity Fun overcomes trouble to earn a crack at Group company next month at Sha Tin

April 15, 2021, 8:12:43 AM

Charity Fun has qualified for the G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap (2400m) next month after overcoming mid-race difficulties to win the Class 2 Cedar Handicap (1800m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, continuing Zac Purton and Danny Shum's budding alliance (14 April).

Despite being inconvenienced during the crucial stages of what Purton characterized as a "messy run," Charity Fun stamped his authority on the contest to secure his third victory in five starts – and a High Achievement Bonus of HK$1 million in addition to the HK$1.254 million winners' purse.

Horses with a minimum ranking of 80 who win a Class 2 race by the age of five are eligible for the bonus.

The triumph was Purton and Shum's 25th in the 2020/21 season and the pair's 12th since the beginning of March, keeping them in contention for the jockeys' and trainers' championships.

Purton increased his total to 95 with a treble, putting him 17 behind Joao Moreira, who has 112 wins for the season after a midweek double, while Shum climbed into overall third in the trainers' standings after recording his 50th victory of the season, trailing only John Size (56) and Caspar Fownes (51). (54).

“The speed was not ideal for him tonight,” Shum said, “but the horse has a huge heart.”

“He will now compete in the Queen Mother Memorial Cup at Sha Tin in May – he deserves it.

“He's doing well in the race.”

Purton admired the adaptability of the War Command gelding.

“It was a nice victory, but it was a sloppy race,” said the Australian. “The first half was fantastic, but the second half was a nightmare. Despite this, he was nevertheless strong enough to win.

"He's a sweet stayer and a trier – he's fine."

Shum and Purton continued their fruitful partnership as Young Legend won the first division of the Class 3 Cypress Handicap (1200m) after Purton had previously combined with Paul O'Sullivan aboard Spontaneous as the first leg of his treble.

Francis Lui is closing in on a career-high seasonal haul after snaring a double at Happy Valley to increase his 2020/21 count to 49, while a slew of potential rivals appear behind Size and Fownes for the trainers' crown.

Lui, famous for his partnership with Golden Sixty, had 63 wins last season and, with a momentum-building brace at the city circuit, the quietly-spoken handler is within striking distance of his record high after Cheerful Days ended a disappointing string of near-misses with a tenacious victory in the Class 4 Spruce Handicap (1650m).

“He deserved to win; he's been running in a lot of places, and his ranking is steadily rising. He did a fine job,” Lui said after completing a race-to-race double with Moreira, who also won the second segment of the Class 3 Cypress Handicap aboard Lui's Stock Legend (1200m).

“Aside from one horse, there was no speed. Stock Legend did a fine job, and it's always nice to win. The horses are galloping along nicely.”

Frankie Lor and Lui are tied for fourth position in the trainers' championship with 49 victories.

“He had to work from the outside barrier (gate 12) to create the lead, but once there, he got some soft sectionals,” Shinn said.

“He attacked the line and he just had a sense of mission in himself to win the sprint, which is the hallmark of a horse that needs to be here in Hong Kong – I think he's a horse that's going places.”

Hayes won his 18th race of the season aboard the Showcasing gelding, showing that his only pre-race worry was a bad draw.

“I was sure when we arrived at gate 12.” I just said, he's had two starts now, he's got blinkers on, let's make our own luck and take the ride by the scruff of the neck – it worked,” Hayes said.

“When you use such techniques, you either sink or float. He was always going to be difficult to defeat when he was leading like that.

“He is a good horse, but in my opinion, the horse from the previous race (Shenron) is a much better horse.”

Hayes' dreams of winning the second portion of the Class 4 Larch Handicap (1200m) with debutant Shenron were dashed by Paul O'Sullivan's rejuvenated Spontaneous, who has three wins and a second from four starts after returning from a bowed tendon.

Hayes' dreams of winning the second portion of the Class 4 Larch Handicap (1200m) with debutant Shenron were dashed by Paul O'Sullivan's rejuvenated Spontaneous, who has three wins and a second from four starts after returning from a bowed tendon.

Shenron finished eighth after falling well behind in a race that was run cautiously through the early sectionals.

Enjoyable Success stormed late to take the first part of the Class 5 Walnut Handicap (1800m) for Me Tsui, giving Alex Lai his third win of the 2021/21 season.

“He had a low weight (113lb) and he got a decent position,” Lai said. He gave it his all in the final 400 meters, and I'm very pleased with his performance.”

Karis Teetan continued his incredible Happy Valley form, winning the Class 3 Fountain Palm Handicap (1650m) for Tony Millard on Gift Of Lifeline, who won the four-timer last week.

Vagner Borges won his 20th race of the season when he rode Success Allstars to victory in the second division of the Class 5 Walnut Handicap (1800m) for South African trainer David Ferraris.

Racing in Hong Kong resumes this Saturday (17 April) at Sha Tin.