Horse Racing
Invincible Sage snares Lukfook Jewellery Cup

By Leo Schlink
17/12/2023 19:22

Invincible Sage charges clear.
Invincible Sage charges clear.

David Hall will thrust Invincible Sage into Group company next year after the talented young sprinter downed older opposition to claim the Class 2 Lukfook Jewellery Cup Handicap (1000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (17 December) as Zac Purton dominated with a quartet.

Unbeaten this season over Sha Tin’s 1000m course, Invincible Sage will be set for the HK$4.2 million G3 Bauhinia Sprint Trophy Handicap (1000m) on 7 January as the lightly-raced gelding bids to continue an ascendent sweep.

Having only his sixth start, Invincible Sage (120lb) gave Zac Purton the third leg of a four-timer, sweeping to a three-quarter of a length margin over Carroll Street (120lb) and Wonder Kit (117lb) in 57.08s to confirm Hall’s opinion of the gelding.

“It’s exciting, and it’s always nice to win the Class 2 race,” Hall said. “Every run has been down the straight 1000m, so he’s becoming a bit of a track specialist. Each circumstance has been different in its own way. Today, they probably didn’t go as fast as I thought they would, so they didn’t string out as much.

“Zac was there quicker than he wanted to be. He was in front and didn’t have anything to chase, so it was a different race, but he had the class to get the win.”

Zac Purton leads the Hong Kong jockeys’ championship by 15 wins.
Zac Purton leads the Hong Kong jockeys’ championship by 15 wins.

Purton, who also triumphed on Regent Glory, Toronado Phantom and Aestheticism, was similarly impressed.

“It was a good effort. They didn’t go as fast as we thought they would. I think they all felt there would be a lot of speed in the race and they all sat and looked at each other, so I was a bit closer than I thought I would be,” Purton said.

“I had to present him a little bit earlier, the run was there at the time, so he got there earlier than he normally does, he floated a bit – he’s a nice little horse. He’s got potential, he knows what he’s doing.”

Known as Thron Bone and the winner of three races in Australia – two at Caulfield and one at Flemington – for Jerome Hunter in 2022, Invincible Sage provided Hall’s stable with its 16th victory of the season and earned a PP Bonus of HK$1.5 million on top of prizemoney of HK$1.590 million.

Purton became the first jockey this season to reach the 40-win milestone when David Hayes-trained Regent Glory landed the Class 4 Lukfook Jewellery Wedding Collection Handicap (1200m, dirt). Well supported, Regent Glory appreciated the move to dirt after just one win from 22 previous starts on turf.

“It was good to see the horse do that, things just didn’t go well for him at Happy Valley last start.

“He’s always trialled well on the dirt, so we came up with the idea to run him there and he did a good job,” Purton said.

The six-time Hong Kong champion jockey increased his lead in the championship when Toronado Phantom steamed from the tail of the field to overhaul his rivals in the Class 3 Lukfook Jewellery Goldstyle Handicap (1200m, dirt) for John Size.

Purton then combined with Pierre Ng and Aestheticism to snare the Class 4 Lukfook Jewellery Heirloom Fortune Collection Handicap (1600m) to have 43 victories for the term – 15 more than Karis Teetan (28).

Pierre Ng celebrates a treble.
Pierre Ng celebrates a treble.

Purton’s surge came as Ng slotted a treble to continue a remarkably consistent sequence when Jumbo Fortune broke through for his first victory in the Class 4 Lukfook Jewellery Dear Q Handicap (1400m) under Teetan. Ng has trained at least one winner at the past 13 meetings to have 35 victories for the term –13 more than Danny Shum (22).

Formerly known as Saif in Australia, where he was a G3 winner over 1400m as a two-year-old for Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes, Jumbo Fortune was initially trained by Tony Cruz and then Caspar Fownes before transferring to Ng last season.

Ng closed the day in style when Mugen bolted in with the Class 3 Lukfook Jewellery Beloved Collection Handicap (1200m) for Teetan.

“Definitely happy,” Ng said.

Benno Yung hopes James Tak, a Headwater three-year-old, can continue to advance after his striking win in the Class 4 Lukfook Jewellery Diapure Handicap (1000m) under Jerry Chau. Clocking 56.83s, the chestnut impressed Yung.

“It seems 1000m is good for him at the moment. I think he’s progressive,” Yung said.

Manfred Man-trained Dublin Star posted his first in since May, 2021 with victory under Derek Leung in the Class 5 Lukfook Jewellery Hexicon Handicap (1400m). Formerly rated 72, Dublin Star entered today’s contest as a 38-rater.

Jamie Richards notched his seventh win of the campaign when Colourful Baron broke through for his first Hong Kong success in the Class 5 Lukfook Jewellery Love is Beauty Collection Handicap (1800m). Formerly known as Cornman when trained by Ger Lyons, the gelding scored a 1400m maiden in Ireland in 2021.

Speed Dragon earned a PP Bonus of HK$1.5 million for his win in the Class 3 Lukfook Joaillerie Handicap (1600m) for Francis Lui and James McDonald.

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (20 December).