Tsar rules Valley with record-breaking victory for Tsui, Chadwick
May 28, 2021, 12:47:52 PM
Undaunted by Tsar's difficult first Hong Kong season, Me Tsui's perseverance was rewarded twice when the British import destroyed the Happy Valley 1650m track record and received a HK$1 million High Achievement Bonus on Wednesday night (26 May).
Tsar was formerly trained by John Gosden in Great Britain, where he was a three-time winner, including a three-year-old handicap triumph at Ascot Racecourse in July 2020, and he had a dreadful first season in Hong Kong — until his scorching triumph in the Class 2 Fort Handicap (1650m).
The Kingman gelding's BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) ambitions were dashed when he was scratched at the barriers before the start of the Hong Kong Classic Mile on 24 January after getting a hind leg trapped at the rear of the gates, and he has since failed to replicate the form he showed in England.
Tsui's patience was rewarded on Wednesday at the city circuit when Matthew Chadwick used the bay's light weight (119lb) to sit outside the speed before lowering the course record with a blistering 1m 37.97s gallop – eclipsing Telecom Fighters' time of 1m 38.55s set earlier on the program in race three.
Tsui also trains Telecom Fighters, a member of Joao Moreira's brace.
“The track is incredibly fast, and he has natural gate speed, and he put himself into a great position, and he had a low weight,” Chadwick remarked after securing a double. “He's still figuring things out. He's definitely better with cover so he can relax early in the race, but he did well enough and I'm hoping for more.
“He gets a little heated and bothered, so he's not very sturdy underneath you. He gets a little wound up, which doesn't help him, but when he learns to relax, he'll hit the line better.
“When he got to the front today, he kicked clear and he was still a little wayward, so there's something there to work with.”
Tsar's attempt to hold off Green Luck and Savaquin in record time saw the lightly-raced galloper become the 16th horse this season to claim a bonus for winning a Class 2 race before the age of five.
Nine additional horses received incentives and top-ups for winning in Class 1 or above.
Dancing Fighter, who had been plagued by injuries for all of his career, vindicated Caspar Fownes' trust with a record-breaking performance to win the Class 3 Java Handicap (1000m) at Happy Valley, demonstrating the importance of patience.
Restricted to just 10 starts over three seasons, the Zoustar gelding lowered Stronger’s mark of 56.11s with a blistering display of speed to set a new record of 56.09s with a mid-race sectional of 20.84s between the 800m and 400m.
“He did it extremely well, so I'm extremely pleased. He's gone back and forth from Conghua to Sha Tin, he's had some proximal ligament difficulties, and it's taken a long time to get him over that,” Fownes explained.
“The horse did exceptionally well in the early days, but then he got injured. It's difficult to get them back, just like everything else. It's really wonderful to receive that result — he was content and let down, and he appears to be back on track.
“It's a job well done, and kudos to the staff at Conghua. He has a lot of promise and is yet relatively unraced. So, I'm just glad to get him back, and I'm hoping he'll be able to finish this event and go to another one in a couple of weeks.”
Vincent Ho added luster to a spectacular season highlighted by five G1 victories by winning his 50th race of the season riding Jimmy Ting's A La King in the second half of the Class 4 Tong Shui Handicap (1200m).
Ting attributed the Denman gelding's performance to the use of blinkers.
“His last two starts were disappointing, but if you look at the replay, he was a little shy of the other horses,” Ting explained. “We gave him the blinkers this time, and he is considerably more at ease.
“It really made a difference. He was considerably more concentrated this time as he passed the horse.”
Telecom Fighters won the Class 3 Merlin Handicap (1650) under Joao Moreira, setting a new track record of 1m 38.55s - a record that remained for less than two and a half hours.
Zac Purton kept his fifth jockeys' championship chances alive by riding Benno Yung's Jolly Good Heart to win in the opening section of the Class 4 Tong Shui Handicap (1200m).
Manfred Man attributed Great Harvest's recent form surge to a gradual acclimation to Hong Kong's racing environment after the Harbour Watch gelding won the opening section of the Class 5 Whitfield Handicap (1200m) under Alexis Badel.
Great Harvest, who was unplaced in 11 starts in his first two seasons in Hong Kong, has three victories and three placings from ten starts this term, including Wednesday night's triumph in a class record of 1m 09.62s.
“He was really apprehensive when he first got to Hong Kong,” Man added. “I had to use blinkers to keep him calm, and he also raced in blinkers.
“As he calmed down, I decided to remove the blinkers, and he's been running well since.”
Chadwick rode Manna From Heaven to victory in the Class 4 Westlands Handicap (1650m), following the trainer's instructions to the letter.
The Dragon Pulse gelding's victory was his second in three races over the city circuit's 1650m distance.
Together with Viva Mama, Peter Ho and Dylan Mo won the first part of the Class 5 Whitfield Handicap (1200m) ahead of For Fun's Sake (Keith Yeung) and After Me (Alex Lai).
“He was truly banging on the door. He's just four, and he's been improving here and there,” Ho explained.
On Sunday (30 May), Hong Kong racing resumes at Sha Tin with the G3 Lion Rock Trophy Handicap (1600m).