Lakeshore Eagle soared to a third win on the bounce and initiated a mid-card four-timer for Karis Teetan who continued a flaming streak at Sha Tin on Sunday, 14 June.
While Zac Purton and Joao Moreira are grinding out the odd win or two, ploughing through treacle in their battle for the jockeys’ championship, Teetan is on a steaming roll. In the past six meetings, the Mauritian has collected 12 victories to Purton’s seven and Moreira’s four.
“Things are going well and when you ride winners you get confidence, that’s a big part of it. Also, there’s the support I’m receiving, you can’t do what I’m doing without the support and I’m very blessed in that way,” he said.
Teetan’s four came in uninterrupted succession: Hang’s Decision followed Lakeshore Eagle, then came Super Alliances, who rolled into God Of Dragon. The rider ended the day with 81 wins, three short of his personal best, as he rounds out a season that has also featured his marriage in mid-May and a first success in the LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship back in December.
“It’s taken me a while to figure out how things work in Hong Kong and I’m still learning but I watch Joao and Zac, and just watching what they do and how they ride has helped me learn a lot. I’m really pleased with how things are going, particularly looking ahead to next season,” Teetan said.
Lakeshore Eagle’s impressive score in the Class 2 Purves Quaich (1600m) also initiated a race-to-race double for trainer Chris So. The Australian-bred is another on the naturally lengthening list of horses to have enjoyed the tranquil environs of the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Conghua facility.
“Conghua has been good for him, the environment has helped him and a couple of other horses, like Soccer Master, who has improved a lot for going there,” So said.
So and Teetan are looking forward to what next season might hold for the Master Of Design five-year-old.
“I think Lakeshore Eagle has enough in him to go to Class 1,” Teetan said. “He’s getting better, he just keeps stepping up and I think there’s a bit more to come. He’s doing everything right and the best thing about him is that he’s got that turn-of-foot when you ask him.”
Teetan was full of confidence at the point of Lakeshore Eagle’s decisive acceleration, his bearing and the horse’s easy stride being clear indicators, and it wasn’t misplaced.
“I was pretty confident the whole way through because I knew they were going to put the speed on,” he said.
“I could feel from the 1000m metres that he was starting to unwind and just before the straight I squeezed him a little bit and he responded pretty quickly. It was his first start in Class 2 and he had no weight; last time it was a big win with a big weight in Class 3.”
So’s charge took his career tally to six wins from 12 starts but handler and rider believe he could be better over farther.
“Next year we’ll maybe step him up to 1800 metres,” So said, while Teetan added, “That little bit further will just give him more time to get into the race.”
Teetan and So followed up with Hang’s Decision who ended an 18-month run of outs when winning the Class 4 Swaine Cup Handicap (1400m).
“They took the hood off today and it worked – he’s an old fella and maybe that just sparked him up, he was in good condition and we got a nice track through,” Teetan said.
The ‘Mauritian Magician’ then stepped up to unlock the John Size-trained Super Alliances in the Class 4 Wong Cup Handicap (1200m), with the three-year-old making a winning dirt track debut to open his account at start 12.
Teetan’s fourth came in the Class 3 Li Cup Handicap (1800m), an ultimately cosy success atop the Tony Cruz-trained God Of Dragon.
Cruz followed up in the finale, the Class 3 Ip Jug Handicap (1200m) when Neil Callan urged California Gungho to a short-head win. That moved the handler’s tally to 54 wins, five behind trainers’ premiership leader Ricky Yiu, with eight meetings left.
Sparkling Knight (116lb) took a large stride forward in his development with a breakthrough win in the Class 4 Macwhinnie Cup (1000m), zipping home in 55.20s, just 0.08s off the class record.
The four-year-old was no match for the likes of Aethero and Winning Method when he stepped out late last season and then finished out with the washing early this term before being sidelined for a long spell.
“He was out for eight months with a knee problem. He needed that time to recover and thankfully the owner was patient,” Tsui said.
“The break helped him a lot, the time he spent here at Sha Tin and at Conghua (between January and late May), he’s been able to relax and mature – he’s matured physically and in his head.”
Sparkling Knight showed speed to control the lead and when the top-weighted 1.7 favourite Fabulous Eight (131lb) pressed him at the 400m mark, jockey Dylan Mo asked for more and the Holy Roman Emperor gelding stretched five lengths clear.
“That was much better than I expected but he had a light weight and the second and third horses had a lot of weight, so that helped him. Two weeks ago he trialled good and that told me he was healthy,” Tsui said of the 22/1 shot.
The Ronald Arculli-owned Red Desert (125lb) was a fitting winner of the day’s second Class 2 contest, the Arculli Trophy Handicap (1200m), to complete a double for the Size stable. Chad Schofield drove the four-year-old to a gusty success from front-runner Highly Proactive (122lb).
“It’s nice to win that race for Mr. Arculli – my dad won a QEII Cup (2004 River Dancer) for him back in the day,” Schofield said. “It’s not my first winner for him but I’m very happy that I could win his own race.
“We had a lovely run in the box seat, he got the gap at the right time and although he had a perfect run he pinned his ears back and fought hard to the line so it was a well-deserved win.”
It’s unlikely that Moreira will have an easier triumph before the season ends than Chancheng Prince in the afternoon’s opener. The Francis Lui-trained grey swept aside limited fellow Griffins by three and a quarter lengths.
That Chairman’s Day Plate (1000m) success took the Brazilian to 127 wins and closed the gap on premiership leader Purton to two. But the Australian hit back aboard the Frankie Lor-trained Chevalier Prince in the Class 4 Chan Trophy Handicap (1400m), making it a case of ‘as you were’.
Antoine Hamelin nailed his 15th Hong Kong win with a peach of a last-to-first ride on Impeccable Fellow in the Class 5 Ryrie Handicap (1400m). The Frenchman steered the Richard Gibson-trained gelding through a sweet rail run, switched out in the home straight and drove on to maintain his fine form.
The Michael Chang-trained Mega Heart (122lb) took the Class 3 Stevenson Cup Handicap (1200m), his third success on the dirt track. Apprentice Jerry Chau judged the seven-year-old’s run to cut down the Moreira-ridden front-runner Utopia Life (132lb) and hold off the Teetan-ridden California Concord (130lb).