It wasn’t the Grand Prix de Paris but the Heung Yip Handicap (1800m) at Happy Valley tonight (Wednesday, 25 September) represented the pinnacle, so far, of Helene Charisma’s Hong Kong career, and it was a timely peak at that.
“It’s Mr. and Mrs. Woo’s anniversary, more than 60 years,” said a jubilant John Moore, Sir Po-shing and Lady Woo being senior partners in the family-owned galloper.
Helene Charisma (123lb) was bought with lofty targets in mind, given his G1-winning exploits at Saint-Cloud under his former moniker, Mont Ormel. Those glory days seemed far distant when the Moore-trained racer descended to Class 3 and a rating of 74 after 27 runs in Hong Kong without a win.
That nadir came last January but it has been onwards and upwards since for the horse, who nowadays is trained out of the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s lauded Conghua facility. His 28th and 29th starts brought wins – both at the Valley – and, in Class 2 tonight, his 34th run since import, the six-year-old bounded past the winning post three quarters of a length clear of runner-up Tianchi Monster (120lb), the closest of his six rivals.
“He’s a Conghua horse, he loves it there. And he loves it here, it’s just the track – horses for courses – he’s much more effective here than he is at Sha Tin. That little bit more give in the track here suits him well,” Moore said.
“We didn’t think there’d be pace today and it was a concern to us, but when Ruthven went on, that was good for us. He started to travel, moved up to midfield and then he got the run.”