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INDEPENDENT HORSE RACING NEWS
Andrew Le Jeune on Ryan Moore's Derby hope, the dual-jurisdiction silver lining of Hong Kong’s PPG pivot and the ‘quiet achiever’ of Hong Kong’s jockey ranks.
Ryan Moore swooped in to win the 2018 Hong Kong Derby on the John Size-trained Ping Hai Star when Joao Moreira opted to ride stablemate Nothingilikemore.
This year Moore flies in to ride the Size-trained Tuchel after Zac Purton chose stablemate Beauty Eternal in the big race on March 19.
Of course Purton’s decision was a simple one – Beauty Eternal will start short-priced favourite in the Derby – but the Moore booking gives Tuchel the best possible chance of success.
Unfortunately for Moore, it is Beauty Eternal, not Tuchel, that compares most to Ping Hai Star.
Both Beauty Eternal and Ping Hai Star made rapid ascents through the handicaps on their way to their respective Derbies, bypassing the traditional four-year-old series step races.
Ping Hai Star started his Derby campaign on a mark of 72 and won three races in a row to climb to a rating of 103, then win the Derby.
Beauty Eternal’s climb has been even more impressive. First of all, Ping Hai Star was a Private Purchase (PP) that had raced in Australia and arrived on a rating of 72.
Beauty Eternal, a Private Purchase Griffin (PPG), had not even raced before this season and was still rated 65 when he won a Class 3 on January 21. Like Ping Hai Star, Beauty Eternal has won three in a row prior to his big day.
Back in 2018, Purton was on the beaten Derby favourite Exultant. This time he is on the favourite again but Moore is unlikely to be swooping past this time.
Tuchel is still a great place chance with Moore aboard but Purton holds all of the aces on Beauty Eternal.
Comments from Communist’s trainer Michael Freedman to Asian Racing Report’s chief journalist David Morgan this week highlighted how hard it has become to buy tried horses from Australia for Hong Kong, but this growing trend could be a good thing for both jurisdictions.
“Back in the day, when the prize money levels weren’t anywhere near what they are now in Australia, those big offers from Hong Kong were very enticing but perhaps a little less so these days with the prize money on offer here,” said Freedman.
Stories like that of Communist – and Australian owners unwilling to sell a promising young horse at any price – are now commonplace. It isn’t surprising when you see the prizemoney in Australia, particularly in New South Wales, and the new races set up specifically for four-year-olds and even five-year-olds.
Trainer Michael Freedman celebrates Stay Inside's Golden Slipper win with jockey Tommy Berry. (Photo by Getty Images)
This is obviously good for racing in Australia, quality horses are staying in the country more often and that is adding quality and depth to racing. But what about Hong Kong?
The Jockey Club may have taken a hit in the short term as it became harder to buy a proven horse “off the track” in Australia but as the adjustment has been made to unraced imports, the quality seems to be climbing back.
As we pointed out in this column last week, the top six horses in Hong Kong right now are PPGs, and the clear top two picks for the Derby – Beauty Eternal and Super Sunny Sing – are as well.
Another upside for Australia is that Hong Kong buyers are getting in on the ground level and hitting the yearling sales ‘down under’.
Hong Kong does not have horse breeding but when a champion like Golden Sixty can rise up from a rating of 52 – or do what Beauty Eternal has done this season – it certainly sparks a special kind of parochialism.
Maybe we will just have to wait for Communist to come and visit the Hong Kong International Races to compete against the ‘homegrown’ heroes?
Matthew Chadwick continues to be the quiet achiever of the Hong Kong jockeys ranks.
Last season’s Tony Cruz Award winner for leading local rider, Chadwick missed eight meetings through a crucial stage of this season after undergoing surgery to repair a broken ankle.
Despite the setbacks Chadwick simply goes about his business.
It took a few meetings for the 32-year-old to find his rhythm after returning from injury last month but a treble on Wednesday night gives him eight wins from the last six meetings and he is now in seventh place in the jockeys’ championship.
Matthew Chadwick after his Happy Valley win on Chris So's longshot Young Victory. (Photo by HKJC)
There was a time that Chadwick, who was a star apprentice under Tony Cruz, was thought of as a front-running specialist and he remains great in the lead and an excellent judge of pace.
Chadwick is more than just a leader though and has become a well-rounded rider. What is perhaps under-appreciated about Chadwick is his ability on backmarkers, as shown by the come-from-behind win on 60-1 outsider Young Victory.
He is also becoming less reliant on Cruz: Chadwick’s treble was for three different trainers and none were for his former boss.
Chadwick has eight rides on the ten race program at Sha Tin on Saturday, including Innoconstruction for trainer Francis Lui in a 1000m Class 4.
Race 2 No.2 Laser Victory
Race 7 No.1 The Golden Scenery
Asian Racing Review: breaking down Zac Purton’s Randwick masterclass
Hong Kong interest in Communist, Freedman just wants a lightweight
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