Highly Proactive (132lb) put up a rallying fightback to outpoint Shining Ace (133lb) in a thrilling finish to the Class 3 Chater Handicap (1200m) at Happy Valley tonight, Wednesday, 15 January.

Shining Ace had the 1.9 favourite on the ropes half-way down the home straight, but with Karis Teetan driving mightily, Highly Proactive lifted and edged past the top-weight.

“He’s a fighter,” Teetan said. “When the second horse came three deep on the home turn I couldn’t sit there, I had to go with him. When he went past me by a head, I could feel my horse wasn’t trying yet – when I got really onto him, then he let down.”

The four-year-old made it two wins from four starts and his second score on the bounce, but both Teetan and trainer Francis Lui believe the New Zealand import is far from the finished article.

“I think he’s still going to improve because he still doesn’t race properly yet, he has a lot to learn, but he’s a lovely horse,” the jockey said.

Lui commented: “He surprised me; I thought the other horse was going to win but it’s a good sign because he’s still immature. After this race he will have learned a little bit more.”

Highly Proactive’s victory sealed a double for Lui and Teetan, the pair having teamed earlier in the night to take the Class 4 Hong Kong Club Challenge Cup Handicap (1200m) with Victory In Hand.

Lui has bagged at least one win at each race meeting since the turn of the year and left the track with 29 wins for the season to remain a safe second in the premiership behind the pace-setting Ricky Yiu.

But the handler, who has two big players heading into the Four-Year-Old Classic Series – Golden Sixty and More Than This – played down his chances of mounting a title challenge through the back half of the season.

“I’m still five races behind Ricky and it will be difficult because I don’t have the middle class horses, the quality is quite average. At the moment I’m using the old horses and now their ratings are going up,” he said.


Class records fall

Hong Kong Win put on a masterclass of sit-and-sprint dash in the Connaught Handicap (1000m), clocking 56.31s to break a 14-year Class 3 record for the course and distance.

“He was ready to win, he was feeling so good in himself,” jockey Joao Moreira said after the four-year-old had stalked a hot pace and then shot past the lead pair to win by two and three-quarter lengths.

“It was impressive but circumstances also helped him out because they went quite fast up front and he just tracked them, and he was able to go past them any time I wanted.”

John Size’s Conghua-based charge broke his maiden over the Valley’s 1000m back in October and has since raced with credit at Sha Tin, most recently when third to the smart Duke Wai.

“He has improved as expected, probably because of the tough runs he’s had at Sha Tin,” Moreira continued.

“His runs at Sha Tin have been pretty good and if you run a good race over there you’re likely to be very hard to beat here as I believe the competition is not as strong here.”

Another longstanding Class record fell in Section 1 of the Edinburgh Handicap when Solar Wai Wai, also trained out of Conghua, lowered Dordenma’s September 2006 1650m Class 3 record with a time of 1m 38.61s. The win gave jockey Grant van Niekerk and trainer Frankie Lor their third success in tandem this term.


Ting’s on fire

Jimmy Ting bagged a treble last Wednesday and continued his hot Happy Valley form tonight with a double courtesy of Flying Godspell and Vigor Fame.

That gave the trainer five wins from his last 12 runners at the downtown venue, a haul complemented by two second placings, and he was quick to give praise to the two men in the saddle, Silvestre de Sousa and Matthew Poon.

De Sousa was at his focused, punching best aboard Vigor Fame to complete the Ting brace in section two of the Class 3 Edinburgh Handicap (1650m). The Brazilian urged the six-year-old – a stable transfer to Ting since his last start – to the lead from gate two and kept his mount honest as the challengers threatened and failed in the run to the line.

“I think de Sousa made the difference – if he wasn’t riding I think we would have lost,” Ting said. “He’s a very strong rider and the horse needs some help in the last 50 metres, so that’s why I used him.”

Three races prior, Poon followed the handler’s instructions aboard the Congua-based Flying Godspell in the Class 4 Club Street Handicap (1200m). The rider tracked the lead from gate one before switching out in the straight for a centre-track charge to victory.

“Flying Godspell had a good rating; last time, I thought he could win but I asked the rider to sit a little bit and instead he chased him to go in front. If you chase him too much he’ll run and then in the last 50 metres he’ll weaken. This time, Matthew Poon sat and the horse had a finish,” Ting said.

The second season trainer put his recent sizzling streak at the Valley down to his horses finding the fields there “not as strong” as at Sha Tin and “if they get a good draw, it’s even better.”

De Sousa left the track with a double of his own, having earlier delivered Happy Good Guys to triumph in the Class 4 Lambeth Handicap (1000m).

“Getting two wins tonight, it means a lot – I wish it could be every night like that but we’ll keep trying!” he said.

The three-time British champion has not had the searing success he enjoyed last term when he guided 44 winners over the line – tonight’s haul took his total so far to 11 –but Happy Good Guys’ score was his third win from his last three rides for the Yiu stable, giving him a three from five return for the handler this season. Yiu’s own running tally at the head of the premiership ticked along to 34.

Poon, meanwhile, snagged a double thanks to the Dennis Yip-trained Play Wise in the Class 4 Ice House Handicap (1650m).

Roman Odyssey ended a long quest for success when gaining an overdue first Hong Kong win in the opening Class 5 Murray Handicap (1000m). The Manfred Man-trained eight-year-old broke through at the 28th attempt since import, having last won at Gosford, Australia, in July 2016.

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday, 19 January.