A cloudless opening to the 11-race card saw Sunny Star win the season’s first Griffin race, the Yau Ma Tei Plate (1000m), but the US-bred gelding had to overcome a tardy start before outpointing his five fellow newcomers by two and a quarter lengths.
The Francis Lui-trained three-year-old travelled onto the heels of the leading quartet with 300m to race, cut between runners to make a line of five at the 150m point and drove on to victory under Vincent Ho.
“I expected he could jump out together with the other horses but he missed the kick a little bit – Vincent said it was because he sat down in the gate,” Lui said.
“It was weak race and my horse is more mature than the others, his gallops have been very competitive. It’s a good start and I think we’ll stick to the Griffin races for now.”
Rumours swirled in the local media ahead of racing that the trainer’s brilliant BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) winner Golden Sixty might not make it to the FWD Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m) on 26 April. Lui said no decision had been reached.
“I’ll discuss it with Vincent tomorrow (Monday),” the handler said.
Hong Kong International Sale graduate Prawn Yeah Yeah took the second of the afternoon’s three straight dashes, the Class 5 Tai Kok Tsui Handicap (1000m). Chad Schofield drove the Richard Gibson-trained five-year-old to his second career win.
McMunigal bagged his second Hong Kong win in the Class 5 Tsim Sha Tsui Handicap (1800m), Matthew Poon kicked clear on the David Hall-trained five-year-old to seal a two and a quarter-length success.
Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 15 April.