By David Morgan
Dynamism is a word the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s marketing folk like to play around with now and then when seeking a buzz-phrase to convey the unique energy of a night at Happy Valley, and a horse of that very name is Joao Moreira’s big hope for a rousing finale to Wednesday’s (28 September) eight-race card at the city track.
Trainer David Ferraris - on a mini roll with a win at each of the last two meetings - had high hopes for the New Approach gelding heading into the 2015 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) but things have not quite panned out for the chestnut since an impressive and, so far sole, Hong Kong win in a 2000m Class 2 at Sha Tin in February of that year.
Minor arthroscopic surgery last November impacted Dynamism’s 2015/16 campaign and it was not until his final start of last term that the former European galloper showed some of his old spark - finishing a solid second to Sichuan Dar in a 1650m Class 2 at ‘The Valley’ with Magical Beauty third. That pair will re-oppose in the night’s curtain-dropper, the Class 2 Wistaria Handicap (10.50pm) at the same course and distance.
“If he puts it together, he’s good enough to be winning that race,” was Moreira’s appraisal this morning (Tuesday, 27 September).
Dynamism caught the Brazilian’s eye with a smart 1200m barrier trial ‘win’ at Happy Valley on 2 September, despite a certain Pakistan Star’s strong-closing second grabbing the headlines. Moreira has ridden Dynamism twice since in track work, the latest an 800m (29.8s, 22.0s) all-weather hit out on Monday morning.
“I galloped him on Monday and he’s feeling good,” Moreira said. “I was very impressed with his trial at Happy Valley, I wasn’t on him but I was definitely watching. He’s got a great gate on the C+3 tomorrow - it favours the inside draws - so he has a lot going for him to get that first Happy Valley win.
“His issues are not there anymore, it seems. He’s feeling very good in himself and if they were expecting him to perform well in the Derby it means he has quality and class, so far he hasn’t put it all together yet and I’m really hoping it’s going to happen tomorrow.”
Dynamism will carry 120lb in the 12-runner contest. That puts him 6lb better off with Sichuan Dar (120lb including jockey Vincent Ho’s 2lb claim tomorrow) for last June’s length and a quarter defeat.
Basic Trilogy will shoulder top-weight of 133lb in the competitive heat, which also features last season’s HKG3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap (2400m) hero Ambitious Champion (130lb) and Happy Valley specialist, Speedy Longwah (122lb).
The last-named carried off the Million Challenge at the track last campaign, a contest decided by points earned for performances in Classes 3 and upwards at Happy Valley between September and February. The Danny Shum-trained six-year-old has a career record of four wins and five places from 10 starts at the course and distance; so is he ready to post another good effort?
“Yes, I think he is,” said jockey Neil Callan, in the plate for all bar one of Speedy Longwah’s seven races last term. “Last season he hit a purple patch and I was just lucky to get on him when I did. He ended up winning the Million Challenge around Happy Valley, which was nice for him to do even though he couldn't run the last few races. He’s in great form.”
An ownership issue meant that the New Zealand-bred did not race between December and June, returning from a more than six-month lay-off to run 13th of 14 in a 1600m Class 2 at Sha Tin.
“It was quite pleasing that Danny could get a run into him at the end of last season,” Callan said. “He hadn't raced for quite some time before that and if he’d had to bring him back now, first-up from all that period of time off, it would have been difficult for him to do; so at least he had that one run. It wasn’t a brilliant run but it was just a matter of getting him out and blowing away the cobwebs.
“His trials this season have been very good and his gallops have been very good,” Callan continued. “He’s put on a little bit of weight, which I think is probably a plus. He’s pulled a good gate (5), he loves the Valley, it’s his optimum distance; I think he’ll run a strong race, he’s a good chance but there’s just a thing in the back of my mind that he might just need it. That’s not to put anyone away, he’s there to run his best and I think he’ll run a big race.”
Speedy Longwah is seeking a first win in Class 2 and off a career-high rating of 88, nine points higher than his last winning mark, but Callan believes his mount is capable in the grade.
“I think he can win in Class 2,” he said, “so whether that’s one more win or two more wins, let’s hope I’m on it for the one. I think he definitely has another win in him.”
Purton sides with Decision again
Two last-start course and distance winners are set to lock horns in the night’s trophy race, the Class 3 Citi Sprint Challenge Cup Handicap over 1200m. The Ricky Yiu-trained Wonderful Journey (111lb with rider’s claim) went up seven points for scoring a week ago under Nash Rawiller and this time has the assistance of Kei Chiong’s 7lb allowance; meanwhile, Zac Purton will aim to back-up aboard Hang’s Decision (127lb) for the in-form Chris So stable.
Purton fired Hang’s Decision down centre track three weeks ago, the five-year-old powering over the top of his rivals to post a cosy length victory. An eight-point ratings rise ensued.
“He did a good job,” Purton said of the dual course and distance winner. “He found himself in the right spot, got a nice run in the race and seemed to win with a little bit in hand. He’s drawn a bit more of a tricky gate this time (7), we’re going to need to fall into the right spot again, but he had a little bit more there and there’s no reason why he can't do it again if all goes well. These Class 3 races are always quite competitive and this one’s no different.”
The action kicks off at Happy Valley with the Class 5 Begonia Handicap (1650m) at 7.15pm.
Dynamism opened his Hong Kong account over 2000m at Sha Tin.
Zac Purton guides Hang��s Decision to victory over 1200m at the city track earlier this term.