HK: Street Scream and Excellent Peers bidding for points
Street Scream (Street Boss) and Excellent Peers (Jimmy Choux) will line up in the Sing Woo Handicap (Class 3, 1200m) at Happy Valley today, chasing a vital 15 points and the outright lead over Nearly Fine (Exosphere) in the DBS x Manulife Million Challenge. The Challenge comes to a close today, after kicking off on September 14 last year, while victory for either Street Scream (45 points) or Excellent Peers (42) will see them leapfrog Nearly Fine (53) into first position, ahead of Yo Beauty (Anjaal) (42), Comet Splendido (War Command) (39) and California Deeply (Deep Field) (36). Street Scream returns with 135lb assigned as the race’s top-rated horse, following an unlucky run in a Class 2 1000-metre contest last month after giving away a sizeable head start. Vincent Ho rides again from gate three. “When I entered the straight there was a huge gap until the last 100 or 200 metres, then everyone just came together and jammed up,” Ho said. “But he is very well, he’s probably just a bit lazy – he thinks too much. He’s a funny horse, if he picked up a little bit earlier [last-start] it would have been ideal. He’s a good chance. I’ll do my best to get the bonus – hopefully we can make it happen.” Meanwhile, Excellent Peers will reunite with Matthew Chadwick for trainer Frankie Lor, assigned 131lb and barrier four.
HK: Purton to reunite with Packing Award
Packing Award (Shamus Award) will line up in the Shan Kwong Handicap (Class 1, 1650m) at Happy Valley today, after a last-start second to Money Catcher (Ferlax) in the January Cup Handicap (Gr 3, 1800m) last month. Zac Purton will reunite with the Peter Ho-trained charge. “I thought it was a good effort. He had no weight last time, so he has to carry some weight this time, but he should get his chance – I won his first race [riding] him,” Purton said. Packing Award is a six-time winner in Hong Kong with five of these coming at Happy Valley across his 16-start career. “It’s a suitable race for him, I think he just needs to get the right run. He relaxes a bit better [at Happy Valley] because at Sha Tin he used to buzz himself up and the tempo of the races didn’t quite suit him, whereas at Happy Valley you’re hitting extra turns and there’s a bit more going on and he just seems to relax a bit better – he’s certainly found his best form there,” Purton said.
HK: Encountered bidding for hat-trick
Silvestre de Sousa heads into today’s nine-race fixture at Happy Valley in the hope of securing a third consecutive win aboard Encountered (Churchill) in the Tsui Man Handicap (Class 3, 1650m). Eligible for the remaining two legs of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series, Encountered sprang to prominence last season with a shock victory at odds of 198/1 at Sha Tin, before adding a pair of Happy Valley wins to his record this term. The improving Churchill (Galileo) gelding will step away from gate five, with De Sousa aboard for the third time for trainer Manfred Man. “He’s improved since they put the blinkers on him and he’s been winning from outside gates – this time we have gate five which is better. I just hope things can go his way, he’s carrying a lot of weight and the horses down the bottom of the handicap with 115 and 116 pounds get an advantage – we have a lot of weight to give away,” De Sousa said. “If he turns up in the same form as last time then he should be competitive. He has to win to go for those races [Four-Year-Old Classic Series] and he has to do it convincingly,” De Sousa said. Formerly trained in Great Britain, Encountered – currently rated 81 – was a winner at Doncaster pre-import over 1405 metres by four lengths for trainer Marco Botti. Tomorrow night he will shoulder 132lb. “The owner really wants to run in the Hong Kong Classic Cup. We’ll try, he keeps improving and when he came to Hong Kong, he was a little bit immature. Now that he’s a four-year-old, he’s getting better and better,” Man said.
HK: Whyte happy with Russian Emperor
Russian Emperor (Galileo) stepped out in batch one at Sha Tin’s barrier trial session yesterday morning ahead of his trip to Qatar for the The Amir Trophy (Listed, 2400m) at Al Rayyan on February 18 for Douglas Whyte. “It was just a top off really. He leaves [tomorrow] afternoon, so Hugh [Bowman] gave me some good feedback and the horse hit the line strongly. He was just there to have a blow out,” Whyte said. The 2021/22 Hong Kong Champion Stayer clocked 58.91 seconds for the 1000-metre turf barrier trial, crossing the line in seventh position with Hugh Bowman aboard. “We know that Senor Toba is going – he won impressively and he’ll be a force to be reckoned with, but my horse is healthy. I’ll send one of my work riders to let him get accustomed to the training facilities and I’ll leave on Monday (February 13),” Whyte said.
HK: Shum trials star duo
Tourbillon Diamond (Olympic Glory) also limbered up under Alexis Badel on the turf over a mile yesterday morning, crossing the line in first position in 1m 39.30 seconds for his trial as he readies for his Hong Kong Gold Cup (Gr 1, 2000m) tilt on February 26 for Danny Shum. “I am happy. I have kept him fresh and happy, everything’s sound, but he’s against Romantic Warrior, so it’s a bit hard – it’s a big challenge for him,” Shum said. Shum also trains Romantic Warrior (Acclamation), who last start finished second to Golden Sixty (Medaglia D’Oro) in the Stewards’ Cup (Gr 1, 1600m) on January 29. “[Romantic Warrior] pulled up sound, he’s good. The 2000 [metres] is more suitable for him and I think the field will be quite small, so that’s good for him,” Shum said.
SGP: Street Of Dreams up in class
Street Of Dreams (Dundeel) may be up in grade against some of the best local middle-distance gallopers in the $100,000 Kranji Stakes A race (1400m) on Sunday, but trainer Steven Burridge hopes that winning streak would not come to a halt. The four-year-old son of Dundeel (High Chaparral) bolted in by more than six lengths to claim his first win at his fifth start on October 2 and has added three more consecutive wins in two Class 4 and one Class 3 races. While last-start Singapore Gold Cup (Listed, 2000m) winner Hongkong Great (Lookin At Lucky) and stablemate Katak (Potala Palace) have both been allocated the top impost of 59.5 kilograms, Street Of Dreams gets in with just 50.5 kilograms and that nine-kilogram swing could make the difference, according to Burridge. “It’s a huge step in class for sure, a big leap of faith,” the Australian trainer said. “We always knew he had ability – and he’s shown that at his last four wins – but he’s up against some serious horses on Sunday. [Trainer, Ricardo Le Grange] pair [Katak and Hongkong Great] are in top form and have the wins on the board at this level, but we get a nine-kilo pull in the weights. That’s significant.”