Horse Racing
Tigre Du Terre one of nine on the Derby trail in Sunday’s Sha Tin finale

By David Morgan
04/01/2019 17:18

Tigre Du Terre (red and black silks) finishes second on his Hong Kong debut.
Tigre Du Terre (red and black silks) finishes second on his Hong Kong debut.

Ask any owner in Hong Kong which race they want to win above all others and the chances are they will say the HK$18 million BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m), so with that in mind, the last race at Sha Tin this Sunday (6 January) is the 10-race card’s must-watch event.

The Class 2 Lung Kong Handicap (1600m) features nine horses eligible, by virtue of age, for the crowning leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series, which kicks off three weeks from now with the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m).

Not only is that bunch eligible but it also includes some of the biggest buzz horses on the stable block; big money imports from hemispheres north and south such as Tigre Du Terre (124lb), Furore (129lb), Heavenly Thought (125lb), Charity Go (123lb) and Ka Ying Star (120lb).

Tigre Du Terre arrived in the Caspar Fownes yard from England this past autumn with a progressive profile and the handler has his eyes fixed firmly on the Derby.

“There’s no doubt he’s a Derby horse,” Fownes said at Sha Tin this morning (Friday, 4 January). “We’ll see what happens on the weekend and we’ll decide what we do with him – whether to go for the whole series or mix and choose between the first two races, the Classic Mile (1600m) and Classic Cup (1800m).

“He’s not nailed on for the Classic Mile, but obviously, if he comes out and wins this race well we’ll go there because there’s big money for the owner, but the big target is the Derby,” he said.

Tigre Du Terre is just beaten by Insayshable last start.

Sent off at 141/1 for his Sha Tin debut on 9 December, the Le Havre rig ran a nose second to the talented five-year-old Insayshable. Dark Dream, subsequently impressive when winning over 2000m late last month, was just behind in third with his re-opposing peers Charity Go, Classic Beauty(118lb), Easy Go Easy Win (127lb) and Helene Leadingstar (123lb) behind in a bunched finish.

“He’s made a lot of progress, he’s going really well. His first-up performance was outstanding and he appears to have come on in heaps,” Fownes said.

Jockey Alexis Badel backed up that assessment.

“It was excellent the way he ran,” the Frenchman said. “The pace was a bit slow so maybe some of the horses in the race were unlucky but he ran very well so I hope he can repeat and find some improvement. He’s a talented horse.”

Purton’s Go

Charity Go is seeking his first Hong Kong success.
Charity Go is seeking his first Hong Kong success.

Zac Purton will take the ride on Charity Go for the first time following the gelding’s two eye-catching efforts in defeat since arriving from Britain where he raced as Fortune’s Pearl.

“He’s an exciting horse; I think we’ve got a really good bunch of four-year-olds this year and he’s one of them,” he said.

“Both his starts have been good. He’s probably shown his versatility – he’s raced from the front and the back. I thought he closed the race off quite nicely last time.”

And with the Classic Series in mind, the champion jockey said: “This race will give a good indication of where he’s at. He’s got a nice draw (three) so we don’t need to be in a hurry to get a position, I’ll just allow him to be where he’s comfortable, wherever that might be.”

Furore from 13

Furore finishes seventh behind Conte last month

The merit of Furore’s only Hong Kong race to date was boosted when Conte smashed his rivals to win a G3 handicap on Sunday. The Australian import was an honest seventh to that potential G1 star in a Class 2 over 1400m on 16 December.

The Frankie Lor-trained gelding was high-class in Australia, winning four on the bounce in lesser grade before placing third in the G1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and sixth in the G1 Australian Derby (2400m).

Derek Leung rode Furore on debut and will be in the plate again from gate 13 of 14.

“He wasn’t drawn well last time and it’s the same this time, but first-up he didn’t run too badly,” Leung said. “He was caught three wide and we weren’t able to get in but he was still there at the last 100 (metres) so he went pretty well.

“He’s a straightforward horse, he has a nice temperament, he breaks sharply and he doesn’t travel too strongly in the race. His fitness keeps improving and last time he learnt a lot from the outside draw. He’s a stayer so the mile is better for him and this time he might get into the first four.”

Lor-trained Heavenly Thought was second to Dark Dream in the G1 Queensland Derby (2200m) last year and 10th in the aforementioned Class 2 on debut. Helene Leadingstar won the G1 South Australian Derby (2500m), while Ka Ying Star was a progressive talent in Britain when raced as Urban Aspect.

The John Size-trained Enrichment (120lb), a smart fourth first-up early this term, is another four-year-old to note in the field.