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Francis Lui edges to within one win of Pierre Ng in trainers’ championship

By: Leo Schlink   July 6 , 2024
   

The Hong Kong trainers` championship continues to hang in the balance after Francis Lui narrowed Pierre Ng`s lead to one – 67 to 66 – with only two race meetings left with King Miles` victory at Sha Tin on Saturday (7 July).



With the trainers` championship resting on a knife`s edge after 86 of 88 meetings, Lui made a crucial gain with King Miles` strike in the Class 3 Chow Silver Plate Handicap (1400m) and with only 20 races left in the season, the battle seems likely to continue until next Sunday`s (14 July) season finale.



Lui`s 12 runners today produced a win and two seconds, while Captain Win was the best of Ng`s eight entrants, returning a third.



Apart from the enduring tussle between Ng and Lui, which continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (10 July), a feature of today`s meeting was the predominance of emerging talent as eight of the 10 races were won by three-year-olds – Santorini, Sonic Boom, Shanghai Style, Courier Aladdin, Mission Voice, Ballistic Win, King Miles and Full Credit.



Frankie Lor-trained Santorini ignited the trend with victory in the Purves Quaich Plate (1200m) for Griffins under Karis Teetan. With a second and three thirds at his previous four starts, the Kodiac gelding triumphed by a short head before surviving an objection from Lyle Hewitt, who rode runner-up Karate Express.



“He`s just learning and getting better, but he`s still improving,” Teetan said. “It was a good win today, he was a bit more professional and with time I think he will get better.”



Cody Mo`s Sonic Boom, a Better Than Ready gelding, was next to prevail, winning the Class 5 Swaine Cup Handicap (1200m, dirt) under Matthew Chadwick before Alfred Chan notched his sixth victory of the season when Shanghai Style clinched the Class 4 Li Cup Handicap (1200, dirt) for Danny Shum.



“About three weeks ago, Danny asked if I would like to come and ride work for him and said he would give me a few race rides because I wasn`t getting many opportunities,” Chan said.



“Of course, I said I was interested and I`m really grateful and happy to get a result for Danny with Shanghai Style.”



By Belardo, Shanghai Sytle was having only his fourth start.


Having won on Hong Kong International Sale graduate Smart Beauty, a five-year-old, in the Class 5 Wong Cup Handicap (1600m) for Tony Cruz, Zac Purton extended an already unassailable lead in the jockeys` championship with debutante Courier Aladdin`s success in the Class 4 Arculli Trophy Handicap (1200m) for Jamie Richards.



“He`s shown some potential at the trials but, of course, he was bred to get over more ground,” Purton said of the Satono Aladdin gelding. “We were hoping he would run well, but thought 1200m might have been short of his best.



“But a lot of things went our way with the good barrier (four), the fast speed, the favourite (Top Scorer) being pulled up, so he was able to roll through his gears a long way from home and that really helped him. He won well – it was a good effort first time out.”



Mission Voice gave Mark Newnham his 30th victory of the campaign and the first leg of a stable double by winning the Class 4 Chan Trophy Handicap (1600m) under Luke Ferraris before Beauty Fit interrupted the third-year-old ascendancy by landing the Class 3 Stevenson Cup Handicap (1400m).



Ben Thompson and Benno Yung combined with Ace High gelding Ballistic Win to win the Class 4 Ip Jug Handicap (1400m).



“It was a great win. His two runs in the same class over 1200 metres have been really good,” Thompson said. “But I was confident on a dry track today, he could show an even better turn of foot. He had failed twice at 1400 metres twice before today but, wiser and more mature, it was a good win.”



Full Credit, a Va Pensiero gelding, led and proved too strong in the Class 3 Philip Chen Trophy Handicap (1200m) for Hewitson to emerge as another promising talent for Newnham.



“He`s been a really nice horse since he arrived - very genuine horse, got good, natural gate speed and he`s still learning how to race. He relaxed really well in front today and it gave him a good kick at the finish,” he said.



“He`ll keep improving and I`m sure he`ll run 1400m. He relaxes so well now and he`s getting better each start. I`m sure we can step him up in distance. At the moment, he`s a pretty good 1200m horse.”



Hong Kong racing continues on Wednesday night (10 July) with the final Happy Valley meeting of the season.


 
 
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