By David Morgan
D B Pin scotched any doubts about his ability to last 1200 metres and proved the all-weather track to be no barrier to his continuing progress, with an easy victory in the Class 2 Chun Shek Handicap at Sha Tin tonight, Wednesday, 5 April.
John Size’s charge made an impressive dirt race debut. After stalking the lead-sharing Pablosky from a handy rail berth, D B Pin shifted three deep on the turn for home and quickened down the home stretch to clock a swift 1m 07.59s, with a closing 400m split of 22.22s. Despite jockey Zac Purton nursing the four-year-old home through the final half-furlong, that time was a season’s fastest at the course and distance.
“It was painless,” Purton said of the top-weight (133lb). “Obviously, the draw (1) helped tonight – and just being a little bit more patient on him. He tracked up really nicely; the speed was good for him. We had all the breaks go for us but he was impressive – it was a good performance.”
D B Pin, the 2.3 favourite, drew three and a quarter lengths clear of runner-up Blocker Dee (132lb), and it was a further half-length back to third-placed Pablosky (127lb) as the 11 rivals failed to cope with the 97-rated victor’s acceleration.
The Darci Brahma gelding took his career record to five wins from eight starts, having racked up four wins – all at 1000m – from five previous outings this term. The New Zealand-bred had already risen 41 ratings points this season prior to tonight’s success.
The win gave Size a double on the night, the handler having earlier landed the Class 5 Wo Che Handicap (1650m) with the Kei Chiong-ridden Five Stars Agent.
That win for the apprentice in race four was one of two victories on the night that would have gone to Champion Jockey Joao Moreira, had the Brazilian not been sidelined with a bout of flu. Olivier Doleuze was the other understudy to benefit, the Frenchman taking Moreira’s place atop the Benno Yung-trained Star Of Yan Oi in the Class 3 Lek Yuen Handicap (1200m).
Best Reward, win 40 for So
Chris So hit a new benchmark tonight with his 40th win of the campaign thanks to Best Reward’s (122lb) victory in race two, the (Class 4) Sun Chui Handicap (1800m). That topped the trainer’s previous best for a season, with 28 meetings of this term still to go.
“It’s good to get the 40, it’s a nice result for the stable,” So said, after the deep-closing five-year-old had arrived late in the act to score by a neck and a head from Good Fit (120lb) and Good Choice (129lb).
Best Reward, an Irish-bred with a stout Aga Khan Studs heritage, was outpaced in last spot through the early stages but found a good rhythm to kick off a Purton double. Racing wide, and with advancing momentum on the final turn, the bay responded to the Australian’s strong urgings to run down his nine rivals.
“He’s one of the hardest horses to ride in Hong Kong, he’s so lazy – he doesn't do anything to help you,” Purton said.
“Unfortunately there are no long races for him; he’s just an out-and-out stayer. He really only got going the last fifty metres tonight. The options are limited but he’s done a good job now.”
Best Reward was repeating his 1 March course and distance breakthrough to take his Hong Kong tally to two wins from 15 starts.
“He’s acclimatised from Europe and now he’s starting to do well,” So said. “He handles the dirt track very well but I think he will handle the turf, too. He just needs more ground.
“I thought he had a chance tonight but I couldn’t be fully confident, he’s that type of horse, he’s shown us that he’s well but he’s a little bit lazy. Even before his last win, when Zac trialled him, we couldn’t tell too much. But after that race Zac then knew that the horse just needs to keep rolling, rolling; I told him tonight that even if the pace is slow, ‘don't worry, take him outside and keep rolling’.”
The Class 5 opener went to the Paul O’Sullivan-trained Goldie Flanker under Ben So, while trainer Manfred Man teamed with Alex Lai to take the third race with the now six-time winner, Unique Joyous. And Nash Rawiller partnered with the Peter Ho-trained Happy Journey to take race five, a Class 4 1200m contest.
The finale, the Class 3 Lung Hang Handicap (1650m), saw apprentice Jack Wong notch his eighth win of the campaign aboard the Ricky Yiu-trained Little Dragon.
Hong Kong racing resumes at Sha Tin on Sunday, 9 April when the card will feature a brace of Group 2 contests, the Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) and the Sprint Cup (1200m), which will see some of Hong Kong’s best in action including Rapper Dragon, Werther and Lucky Bubbles.
D B Pin coasts to victory in a fast time.
Best Reward wins to give trainer Chris So a record score.