By Andrew Hawkins
Trainer David Hall praised the consistency of hardy gallopers Super Turbo and Victory Boys after the pair won at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (17 May), giving the handler his fourth double of the season and his first at the city track.
Super Turbo (123lb) landed the Class 2 France Galop Cup Handicap (1200m), the second of two trophy races on the Gallic-themed card, storming home off a strong tempo to score a length victory under Joao Moreira.
The four-year-old has now won three of his 12 starts in Hong Kong, all over the Happy Valley 1200m, since arriving from Ireland, where he raced as Snowy Scene. However, Hall lauded the grey’s reliability.
“What an honest horse he is,” Hall said about the grey. “He just keeps turning up, he loves this place. Everyone thought he needed it soft, he probably does too, but he’s been here long enough now, he’s toughened up, he’s adjusted to the tracks and he’s come out on a Good To Firm tonight and done that.”
Super Turbo was dropping back from 1650m to 1200m and relished the strong mid-race sectionals set by three-year-olds Premiere and Sea Jade. Moreira rode him in the second half of the field, swooping around the field on the turn and sprinting sharply to win his first race in Class 2.
“You can’t ride him for speed, you just have to let him settle where he’s comfortable,” Hall said. “He’s got a great turn of foot on him, and when he gets to display it, he’s something. It was a top ride from Joao.”
Earlier, Hall’s Victory Boys (122lb) stayed on strongly to take the Class 3 Longchamp Racecourse Handicap (1800m), giving Australian jockey Sam Clipperton his 35th win of the term.
Victory Boys took 10 starts and a drop into Class 5 before winning his first Hong Kong race in April last year. However, at his 10 runs since, he has not missed a placing with four wins, four seconds and two thirds at both courses, and over 1650m, 1800m and 2200m.
However, Hall believes that Victory Boys has shown obvious signs of maturity over the past 13 months.
“The term ‘model of consistency’ – it’s not just Super Turbo, it applies to Victory Boys as well,” Hall said. “It’s been a great season for him, he finished off last year really well and he seems to have matured mentally now. He used to get very hot in the paddock, he certainly still gets hot by the time he gets to the gates but he’s markedly better than he was.”
The trainer pointed to some strong form references for the Mastercraftsman five-year-old, including two horses with Group-class form now in the book.
“He keeps turning up, he’s run into some really good horses too,” Hall said. “He’s run second to Packing Dragon and Dinozzo this season, for example, and we’ve seen what they’ve gone on to achieve. He really deserved another win, so it was great to see him get that.”
Ferraris’ Star takes Le French May Trophy
Breeders’ Star capped his season by taking the first of the night’s features, the Class 3 Le French May Trophy Handicap (1200m). It was the Jet Spur gelding’s first win in the grade after two victories in Class 4 earlier this term, and trainer David Ferraris believes that he can head even higher next term.
“He relished a strong pace tonight,” Ferraris said of Breeders’ Star (122lb), who won by two and a quarter lengths. “He was able to get into a good spot from gate seven, he was aided by a strong Neil Callan ride and he really ran home strongly. I think he’s probably done enough for the season now, but maybe he can progress even more as a five-year-old.”
Callan brought up win number 40 for the season to hold down third place in the jockeys’ championship, behind Joao Moreira (147) and Zac Purton (87).
Trainer Caspar Fownes joined Hall in preparing a double, bookending the card with Grace Heart (120lb) taking the opening Class 4 Deauville August Yearling Sales Handicap (1000m) and Best Step (114lb) making an easy transition to Class 3 in the closing Arc De Triomphe Champions Handicap (1200m).
“For Grace Heart, it was a matter of it all coming together for him tonight,” Fownes said. “He lobbed into the right spot behind the leader from the good draw and he was always going to be hard to beat once he was there. With Best Step, he’s still improving but that was a tough effort from him on speed.”
Rider Keith Yeung recorded a milestone of his own with his 200th Hong Kong winner, bringing up the mark on Benno Yung-trained Love Chunghwa (115lb) in the Class 4 French Racing & Breeding Committee Handicap (1200m).
Racing returns to Sha Tin on Sunday (21 May) for a 10-race card that is scheduled to begin at 1pm.
Super Turbo, ridden by Joao Moreira, wins the France Galop Cup for trainer David Hall.
David Hall-trained Victory Boys, ridden by Sam Clipperton, wins the Longchamp Racecourse Handicap.
Breeders�� Star, with Neil Callan aboard, takes the Le French May Trophy for handler David Ferraris.