Grateful Heart has been crowned DBS x Manulife Million Challenge champion, leaving Danny Shum to revel in a third victory in the lucrative Happy Valley series in six years.
Joining Shum’s previous winners – Speedy Longwah (2016) and Charity Glory (2018) – Grateful Heart was clearly the best-performed runner in the series, which stretched from September to Wednesday night (24 February), with four wins, a second and a third at the city circuit.
A constant force in sprint contests at the Valley, Grateful Heart boosted his series record to 70 points by posting a third to Sky Field in the Class 1 Blue Pool Handicap (1200m), collecting four points.
That left the Written Tycoon gelding tenuously placed with a 13-point buffer over Scores Of Fun, who was in a position to claim overall honours by lifting the Class 3 Sing Woo Handicap (1200m) two races later under the 15-6-4-3 points format.
But John Size’s charge endured an interrupted run for Vagner Borges and crossed the line in seventh place behind Dennis Yip’s Racing Fighter.
Flying Genius, winner of the Class 3 King Kwong Handicap (1000m) for Tony Cruz and Zac Purton, finished in third place with 46 points.
Shum was elated with Grateful Heart’s effort to secure the HK$650,000 first prize, a figure further boosted by prizemoney of HK$345,000 to add further lustre for the chestnut’s connections.
“He deserved it because he had four wins, one second and one third,” Shum said.
“The horse always tries his best – he deserved to get his reward. It’s good, we’re very happy.”
Sky Field’s triumph delighted trainer Caspar Fownes as the Deep Field gelding collected a HK$1,500,000 High Achievement Bonus for winning a Class 1 contest before reaching the age of five.