Horse Racing
Callan hopes to be the toast of Spain aboard Sangria at Happy Valley

By Andrew Hawkins
21/11/2017 14:39

Neil Callan believes that the step up to 1650m will suit Sangria as the Spanish import looks to break his Hong Kong duck in the Class 4 St Andrew’s Challenge Quaich Handicap (1650m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (22 November).

Sangria finished unplaced in his last start in a Class 4 handicap at Sha Tin on 5 November.
Sangria finished unplaced in his last start in a Class 4 handicap at Sha Tin on 5 November.

Hong Kong has two Spanish-bred gallopers among the 1250-odd horses in training at Sha Tin currently, with both among declarations on Wednesday night. David Ferraris-trained Sangria is joined by Danny Shum’s Celestial Nova, who steps out in the nightcap, the Class 3 Stirling Handicap (1650m).

While neither will hit the heights of the most prominent current Hong Kong galloper to have come through Spain, French-bred multiple G1 winner Helene Paragon, Callan is hoping that Sangria (128lb) is now at a mark where he can break through, especially as he steps up beyond 1400m for the first time.

“Since he’s dropped to Class 4, he’s had a couple of decent runs,” Callan said at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning (21 November). “He’s at a good level, a good rating at the moment. He’s the right type of horse for the Happy Valley mile – he’s not very big, he’s well balanced, he’s got a lot of natural tactical speed. With all that together, I think he’s right in play.”
Sangria, who had six starts in France when named Money Maker, is an American Post half-brother to one of the most prominent Spanish-bred gallopers in recent times, multiple G1 placegetter Noozhoh Canarias. The Caradak gelding won up to a mile but found his best over 1400m.

However, Callan feels that Sangria is capable of handling the mile comfortably, particularly around the tight Happy Valley course.

“The Happy Valley mile is different to the Sha Tin mile, the competition is less demanding there,” the Irish rider stated. “A couple of runs back, he finished well from the back over 1200m with me aboard. That night, it felt like when he stepped up in distance with a little more experience, he’d be a little more relaxed and should see out a mile. He worked home well over 1400m last start and I think back to the Valley and to the 1650m is just what he needs now.

“Most importantly, he’s got a good gate (three). He’s got natural speed but he’s got a sprint that you have to use at the end, not the start. He’s going to get every conceivable chance of getting the mile strongly from a good gate. It’s not the most competitive race, so he goes in with a chance.”

Also lining up in the night’s feature are last-start placegetters Gentry (126lb), Empire Star (125lb) and Dutch Windmill (115lb), as well as Tony Millard-trained Sichuan Boss and Tony Cruz’s Multigogo.

The Class 4 St Andrew’s Challenge Quaich Handicap is the fifth of eight races and will jump at 9.20pm.

First son of Frankel steps out for Lor

The seventh race, the first section of the Class 3 Irving Handicap (1200m), sees the Hong Kong debut of Simply Brilliant for trainer Frankie Lor and jockey Nash Rawiller. Simply Brilliant is notable as the first son of champion galloper Frankel, rated the best horse of the modern era, to grace the Hong Kong turf.

Simply Brilliant (far side) takes to the Sha Tin turf in a barrier trial on 7 November.
Simply Brilliant (far side) takes to the Sha Tin turf in a barrier trial on 7 November.

The three-year-old, who raced as Senator when trained by Richard Fahey, won a maiden at Leicester and a novice at Carlisle at two. He raced twice in handicaps earlier this season, including a sixth in the Britannia Handicap (1600m) at Royal Ascot, a contest that has a proven record for producing solid Hong Kong horses.

In preparation for his Hong Kong debut, Simply Brilliant has had two trials, the latest when he was fourth past the post over 1000m on the Sha Tin turf on 7 November. That day, he finished ahead of both Seasons Bloom and Werther, who won the G2 BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Mile (1600m) and the G2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2000m) respectively last Sunday (19 November).

“His trial was great,” Rawiller said. “He’s pretty professional, he’s had that bit of race experience overseas obviously. He’s got to go to Happy Valley, which can be a bit tricky at times, but he’s a compact, speedy type who should get into the right spot from the nice draw. He should be competitive.”

The first section of the Class 3 Irving Handicap is set to jump at 10.20pm, with the opener, the Class 5 Dumbarton Handicap (1200m), beginning the card at 7.15pm.