By Andrew Hawkins
John Moore may not have been on track, having saddled up Not Listenin’tome in Dubai on Saturday night (25 March), but the handler’s double at Sha Tin on Sunday (26 March) may have revealed plenty for the future after wins to Happy Meteor and Magic Legend headlined the card.
Magic Legend (126lb) entered the Class 2 Duddell Handicap (1200m) unbeaten from two attempts at the straight 1000m at Sha Tin. He had won around a bend in Australia, where he was named Hostwin Legend, but the three-year-old had proven erratic in his two previous victories. The addition of a crossed nose band to his gear appeared to help his cause, though, as he led comfortably and fought on strongly in the straight to win by three-quarters of a length under Douglas Whyte.
“He was very tractable today, it was a good effort,” Whyte said. “He did everything that was asked of him, he fought on well and he’s still got a lot of upside. We had discussed beforehand about the application of the crossed nose band and I think it was crucial in helping his tractability.”
Magic Legend is among entries for the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) on 7 May, but Whyte believes that it may be a case of 12 months too soon for the Red Element gelding.
“John obviously knows what he is doing,” Whyte said. “He’s only three, he has untapped ability but I’d say that we will see the best of him later on. Let’s see where his progression takes him this season, because he will only improve at four.”
For Happy Meteor (121lb), owned by Moore’s long-term stable client David Boehm, his victory in the Class 3 Elgin Handicap (1200m) was notable as the first Hong Kong winner for apprentice Matthew Poon, who made an instant impression upon his return to his home town.
Poon, who has been plying his trade in South Australia as part of his education at the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Apprentice Jockeys’ School, stepped out at Sha Tin for the first time as a licenced rider on Sunday. He scored two thirds at his first two rides aboard David Hall-trained Argentum and Caspar Fownes’ Both Lucky, before leading all the way on Happy Meteor.
However, Poon was later ruled unfit to take his final four rides after his mount in the
Duddell Handicap, David Ferraris-trained General Iron, charged at him as he was being legged aboard the seven-year-old.
He was taken to Prince Of Wales Hospital for precautionary observation.
One of Poon’s intended mounts, Penang Hall (114lb), took the last race, the Class 3 Old Bailey Handicap (1600m), for the claimer’s new master Hall, with Derek Leung the replacement rider.
“Matthew called me before the race to wish me and Derek the best of luck with him,” Hall said of Poon. “Obviously, it could have finished off a really good day for his first day, but he still had a winner so it was overall a positive experience.
“Penang Hall has been knocking on the door, everyone has seen how well he has been running in Class 4 carrying the big weights from wide draws. Everything turned around today, he got into a good position and had the light weight from a nice draw. The thing is, instead of 10 pounds off with Matthew, he only had two pounds off with Derek – I still have the 10 pounds up my sleeve so next time might be the perfect time to put Matthew on and keep him at a similar weight in the bottom of Class 3.”
Trainer Me Tsui prepared three of the first four winners – Fortune Giggles (128lb) in the Class 5 Albany Handicap (2000m), Dragon General (133lb) in the Class 3 Caine Handicap (1000m) and Radiant Steed (133lb) in the Class 4 Conduit Handicap (1200m) – to dominate the early part of the card, while jockeys Nash Rawiller, Joao Moreira, Karis Teetan and Leung all scored doubles.
Racing returns to Happy Valley on Wednesday night, with the eight-race card to get underway at 7:15pm.
Magic Legend remains unbeaten from three starts in Hong Kong after winning the Class 2 Duddell Handicap (1200m) under Douglas Whyte.
Happy Meteor��s win in the Class 3 Elgin Handicap (1200m) gave apprentice Matthew Poon his first Hong Kong victory.
Matthew Poon celebrates after scoring his first Hong Kong win on Happy Meteor.
Penang Hall took the last race, the Class 3 Old Bailey Handicap (1600m), for David Hall and Derek Leung.