Horse Racing
Conghua and Purton the twin charms as Helene Charisma breaks track record

By Declan Schuster
28/03/2019 00:26

John Moore heaped praise on the HKJC’s Conghua Racecourse as former serial loser Helene Charisma recorded his second win in three weeks by setting a new Happy Valley track record (2m 14.88s) over 2200m in the Mount Collinson Handicap tonight (Wednesday 27 March).

“He’s now won two out of Conghua and he’ll continue to win because he’s not sweating up as much, he’s just a more relaxed horse and from that point of view it’s allowed us to win two straight,” Moore said.

Helene Charisma and Zac Purton make it back-to-back wins at Happy Valley
Helene Charisma and Zac Purton make it back-to-back wins at Happy Valley

“Conghua has definitely played a big part in this; Vincent (Travelling Groom) who travels with them says he is the best traveller and he’ll head back to Conghua on Tuesday” he added.

Aided by a patient ride from Zac Purton, Helene Charisma (132lb) kicked clear of Tashidelek (120lb) to win by two lengths. “We’ll be looking for the same, either 2000m or go further,” Moore said.

Moore also saddled Happy Dragon and Classic Beauty to finish third and seventh and couldn’t recall the last time he was in the unusual situation. “I don’t even remember the last time I had three in a race at Happy Valley, it has to be 10 maybe 15 years, it just worked out this way as I had a few stayers on my hand,” Moore said.

A masterful ride from Zac Purton brought the best out of Helene Charisma and his performance didn’t go unnoticed. “It’s two things, being trained out of Conghua and Zac just gets on so well with the horse,” Moore said.

Purton allowed his mount to relax off the speed, before popping the question to Helene Charisma in the straight, but the horse was up to the task as he responded with ease.

“I drew a nice gate and from there just had a lovely run, I was a bit worried halfway with the slow sectionals, but when the horse (Happy Sebring) took off it injected enough speed for everyone to start making their runs, which was key to him,” Purton said.

Helene Charisma cruises to victory in the Mount Collinson Handicap.

Purton promptly brought up a double aboard Joyful Union in the Nam Long Shan Handicap (1200m) for Benno Yung and in doing so left himself on the cusp of another notable achievement.

The champion jockey’s 91st success of the season was the 946th of his Hong Kong career, meaning he needs just one more victory to move ahead of Tony Cruz into clear second behind Douglas Whyte on the all-time list of most successful riders.

Fownes at the double, Ho at the treble

Caspar Fownes might be 3700 miles away preparing Southern Legend for Saturday’s Dubai Turf (1800m) but that didn’t stop his success as he scored an early double with Chaparral Star and Royal Racer.

Chaparral Star got things off to a flyer in the first, winning under Joao Moreira to give the Brazilian his 46th success of the season.

“That’s Joao’s first winner for me this season, it’s hard to get him because of the job with John Size, as you never know when he is going to be available,” Fownes said.

“Chaparral Star has been running very well, I told Joao to use the gate (3), he needed a good strong ride and he ran well last start, he was wide the whole trip,” Fownes said.

Chaparral Star wins the first for Joao Moreira and Caspar Fownes
Chaparral Star wins the first for Joao Moreira and Caspar Fownes

Fownes’ triumphed again with Royal Racer in the second race, giving the handler his 24th win of the season and 16th at the city track.

“He’s getting the hang of racing; I really thought Happy Valley would suit him,” Fownes said. Vincent Ho was in the saddle for Fownes’ second win and the trainer heaped praise on the rider.

“Vincent has been riding at a different level with the big boys all season and he gave this horse a perfect ride, one out one back nearly all the way,” he added.

As if to prove Fownes right, Ho completed a double on Francis Lui’s This Is Class in the Mount Butler Handicap (1200m) and sealed a treble for the same handler when Racing Luck landed the concluding Siu Ma Shan Handicap (1650m).

“I wasn’t expecting much tonight – certainly not three winners – so that’s a very nice surprise,” said Ho. The former champion apprentice is now on 36 winners for the season and feels a first half century could be a reachable target if his current form continues.

Vincent Ho makes it three wins aboard Racing Luck
Vincent Ho makes it three wins aboard Racing Luck

Frustrated follows up to spark significant Wong double

Frustrated made it back-to-back wins at the Valley as he shot away to win The Indian Recreation Club Challenge Cup (1200m) in commanding fashion for trainer Frankie Lor and jockey Victor Wong.

“He improved after his last start and the draw (stall 1) gave him a big help,” Lor said.

“I think I will look for another 1000m at the Valley, this track is good for small horses,” Lor added.

Frustrated powers away under Victor Wong to win the night’s feature.

Wong doubled up and recorded one of the most significant successes of his career when the Paul O’Sullivan-trained Moment Of Power recorded the seventh pillar-to-post success of his career over the Valley’s 1000m track in the Class 2 Pottinger Peak Handicap (1000m).

Victor Wong celebrating his win aboard Moment Of Power
Victor Wong celebrating his win aboard Moment Of Power

The normally quiet and reserved Wong didn’t hold back his emotions on this occasion, fist pumping across the line as the game Moment Of Power fended off all challengers.

It was the 45th success of Wong’s Hong Kong career, therefore his claim will be reduced from 7lb to 5lb from his next meeting.

“He raced in a Class 2 1000m race at the beginning of the season and the speed was on and he folded,” O’Sullivan said. “They left him alone tonight and he’s racing at his very best.”

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday 31 March.