Fresh talent on the rise at Sha Tin as Fantastic Treasure stamps credentials
May 17, 2021, 6:03:43 AM
Fantastic Treasure reinforced his rare consistency by bettering Golden Sixty's Class 2 1400m record at Sha Tin with a sensational win in the Crystal Handicap at Sha Tin on Sunday, marking Chad Schofield's 200th Hong Kong victory (16 May).
David Hayes' gifted three-year-old downed a slew of veteran gallopers, winding his way through tiring opposition to maintain an unblemished record with a fifth consecutive victory and covering the 1400m journey in 1m 20.28s – bettering Golden Sixty's class record mark of 1m 20.29s, set in October 2019.
Schofield, 27, pronounced the Written Tycoon gelding to be the most thrilling galloper he has ridden after spectacularly sealing a card that included three other record-breaking results, including Valiant Dream's attempt to crack Aethero's 1000m course record.
“Yes, he is the most thrilling (horse) I've ever ridden.” Fantastic Treasure is “just such an outstanding horse, he just oozes consistency, no matter what you do,” Schofield, winner of the G1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) and G1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) in Australia, said.
“I've rode him in all of his starts, and he's become better – emotionally and physically – in each one. I sent him out the door today. I knew I was going to get stuck big, so I begged him to return, and he did. Then I picked him up again to take a spot, which he did.
“He's like a bomb-proof trip and he does whatever you want him to do.”
Schofield said that Fantastic Treasure's competitiveness and poise enabled the PPG (Privately Purchased Griffin) to spear through tight gaps late in the race.
“I wasn't concerned because he was coming in too quickly; I just wanted half a distance and he'd bust in. I was concerned that one tired horse could wobble in his path, but he breezed through it like a knife through butter,” he said.
“He's a premium horse – in today's run, you had Beauty Smile, a Class 1 winner. You had Not Usual Talent, who had come in second place behind Beauty Generation. This young three-year-old has beaten them in Class 2 on his first try, breaking Golden Sixty's record. It's a lot of fun.”
Hayes will now spell Fantastic Treasure in anticipation for the Hong Kong Four-Year-Old Classic Series next season.
“He's very flexible, and he'll be stronger by a mile,” Hayes said. “Congratulations to Chad; there was some friction there, and it was his 200th victory. He took a lot of risks that he may not have needed to take, but he took the shortcut and succeeded, so all credit to him.
“I know they run quick times nowadays, but to do what Golden Sixty has done is a luxury – at that point in his career.
“I was worried he was in some kind of trouble. I knew he was moving well and that when he moved him, it would be perfect. He got through and scored, but it turned out to be a really smart journey. To win, he had to change directions twice. I admire his ability to get out of trouble and win – that is what good horses do.”
Master Eight also added to Hong Kong's rising pool of young fresh talent with a stunning debut that attracted lavish praise from Joao Moreira and Frankie Lor after an emphatic victory in the second division of the Class 4 Sapphire Handicap (1200m).
Moreira, who leads the jockeys' championship with 123 victories, believed the son of Oamaru Force was exceptionally talented based on a pair of Sha Tin trial victories, but even he was taken aback when Master Eight set a new Class 4 record.
“He has a lot of potential. We realized he was a straightforward horse, and he actually shocked me with his current position – I assumed he was a few steps behind,” Moreira said.
“But he did that so easily, which makes me think he's a strong horse.” He's going to get a really good ranking. It's impossible for me to predict, but the handicap is currently too far out to deter him. He has it.”
The son of Oamaru Force, who was secured by bloodstock agent David Price, set a 1200m Class 4 record of 1m 08.40s. Lor dubbed Master Eight the best PPG (Privately Purchased Griffin) in his stable as a result of his efforts.
“He's the best one,” Lor said, pointing to the chestnut gelding's place in the PPG pecking order at the stable. “In his most recent hearing, he performed admirably. He will easily advance to Class 3.”
Valiant Dream of Francis Lui scorched up the 1000m straight, recording a 20.23s sectional between the 800-400m before steaming over the final 400m in 21.39s for his fourth victory on the course and ride, lowering Aethero's mark.
United is Danny Shum's business. We Stand added a new Class 4 1000m record of 54.94s to his record-breaking streak.
Moreira's double came alongside Tony Cruz, who won the first part of the Class 4 Spessartine Garnet Handicap (1400m) with Mercurial.
With 16 meets remaining, Zac Purton completed a treble, winning the first part of the Class 4 Sapphire Handicap (1200m) on Benno Yung's Diamond Brilliant before winning the Class 3 Emerald Handicap on Danny Shum's Regency Bo Bo (1200m).
Purton coaxed the best performance out of John Size's Beauty Fit to win the Class 3 Lapis Lazuli Handicap (1600m) and crack his Hong Kong maiden at the fifth attempt. Beauty Fit made a big impact in Australia as Barocha for Clayton Douglas, where he went unbeaten in two starts under Jamie Kah.
Shum won training honors with a brace, attributing United We Stand's Class 4 Ruby Handicap (1000m) win under Jerry Chau to a previous stint in Conghua.
Me Tsui's Fantastic Show defied the on-speed pattern by winning the second segment of the Class 4 Spessartine Garnet Handicap (1400m) under Dylan Mo.
The son of Not A Single Doubt tailed out to a glaring last before rising to Mo's urgings to make touch with the field at the 300m – before unleashing a ferocious late charge to score.
“Normally, he leaps slowly, but this time it was much slower than I expected,” Tsui said. “It all depends on the speed.”
It was the six-year-first old's victory after racking up four in a row last season.
Karis Teetan's 14th victory of the season aboard Regency Gem in the Class 5 Topaz Handicap (dirt, 1200m) for Chris So cemented his lead at the top of the all-weather standings.
Regency Gem, who had been beaten into seventh place on the same track, justified So's decision to back up the Showcasing gelding after just four days with a blistering last-to-first sprint.
Teetan pointed to the sky after winning on Regency Gem – and again after piloting Valiant Dream – to pay tribute to countryman Nooresh Juglall, who died in a race fall in Mauritius on Saturday.
On Wednesday, racing in Hong Kong resumes at Happy Valley (19 May).