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David  Morgan

David Morgan

Perfect for Badel, Decrypt pleases with Classic Series in mind

Sun 15th Dec 2019, 10:00

Perfect Match takes the feature under Alexis Badel.
Hong Kong Jockey Club

Perfect Match showed he’s a four-year-old going places with a smart victory in the Class 2 Lukfook Jewellery Cup Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin today (Sunday, 15 December).

The Not A Single Doubt gelding bagged a fifth career win from 10 starts to push his rating (83 for this test) into Four-Year-Old Classic Series territory. But, with the first leg of three — the Hong Kong Classic Mile — just six weeks away, trainer Danny Shum was quick to play down those prospects.

“The mile could be a problem,” he said of the 2.2 favourite. “If you look at him, he’s a 1400-metre horse, the pedigree says the mile even might be an issue and if we push him to the 1600 (metres) and he runs no good, it wouldn’t be ideal. But I’ll talk to the jockeys and the owner and then we’ll make a plan what to do.

“His last run was good, he’d been off for a few months and had no cover in the run but he still finished third so it was an amazing effort actually and he’s shown that today.

“There’s no talk of the Derby for this horse,” he added.

There was plenty of BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) talk about third-placed Decrypt leading into the race though, and his classic prospects were not diminished by defeat. The Hong Kong debutant emerged as a threat to Perfect Match with 300m to race but faded on his run as Joyful Trinity swept by to press the winner and take second spot.

“It was encouraging,” jockey Zac Purton said of Decrypt, this year’s G1 Irish 2,000 Guineas third now in the care of Frankie Lor.

“I thought he did a good job. He travelled a bit keenly through the early-mid stages but he came out to win and he just ran out of gas at the end.”

Lor intends to race the grey again on 5 January before stepping into the Hong Kong Classic Mile on 27 January.

Perfect Match scored by three quarters of a length and a length over the place-getters, stopping the clock at 1m 20.79s to give jockey Alexis Badel some silverware.

“It’s very good to win a trophy race,” the Frenchman said. “I like Danny, he’s been great with me so far and he always gives me good opportunities, so it’s good to win for him.

“This was my best ride today and he gave me a good feeling. He’s obviously a good horse, he’s very smart and he listened to what I was communicating to him. He’s happy whatever you want him to do and he responds well.”

Badel was of a similar mind to Shum regarding the Australian-bred’s ability to stretch out over a mile and beyond.

“I suppose the pace was fast enough and he might stay a mile but he’s shown me good speed at seven furlongs today.”

Caspar Fownes was delighted with the effort of the once high-class veteran Joyful Trinity in pressing the winner with a trademark deep-closing charge.

The seven-year-old was talented enough in his pomp to make the frame in G1 company and bagged a G3 win too, but has not tasted victory since October 2016.

“It’s wonderful to see him do that,” Fownes said. “It’s a challenge to bring these horses back — in the past he’s had a suspensory problem, a heart irregularity, and then he’s gone and put in a massive run like that at his age.

“Hopefully he can snag one after that run but we’ll see how he is race by race and if everything’s smooth he’s going to be competitive at 1400 to a mile.”

Matthew Poon was the out-of-luck rider on Joyful Trinity but made amends one race later when driving Quadruple Double home for trainer David Hall in the Lukfook Jewellery PT Collection Handicap (1200m). The four-year-old gelding has hit a rich vein of form, winning three of his most recent four starts.

Reliable on Classic trail

Reliable Team could be another Lor candidate for the Four-Year-Old Classic Series after taking his record to four wins from six starts with success in the Class 3 Lukfook Jewellery Hugging Family Collection Handicap (1600m).

“He’s solid, he’s honest — he had to do a little bit of work to get there but he was able to get a breather through the middle stages and once again he was good on the line,” Purton said after steering the grey to a length verdict.

“He could be (one for the Derby), possibly — he hasn't really been in a race yet and he keeps drawing all these wide barriers so he’s doing a good job.”

Umberto Rispoli had his last Hong Kong ride for the foreseeable future when running home fourth after setting the tempo in the finale. Rispoli is heading to the United States to continue his career and flies to California tomorrow night (Monday, 16 December) with an intention to ride his first meeting Stateside at Santa Anita on 23 December.

“To have a winner to finish off here would have been perfect but I rode a good race so I’m happy with that,” the two-time Italian champion said.

“I’m excited but I don’t know what awaits me. I need to find myself again — I’ve spent a long time here and now I’m very focussed and excited about a new adventure. 

“Walking down to the paddock, realising it was my last ride here, at least for now, I was a little bit sad; I was struggling to talk because we will miss our friends, but that’s a jockey’s life. I’m still 31 and I have at least 10 years of a good career ahead of me.”

Rispoli’s Hong Kong record stands at 122 wins with a pinnacle 31 in 2017/18. His biggest win came aboard Rulership in the G1 QEII Cup at the end of his initial short-term contract back in April 2012.

Will Power put up a smart debut performance in the Class 4 Lukfook Jewellery Love is Beauty Collection Handicap (1200m, dirt) under Karis Teetan. The Douglas Whyte-trained four-year-old rifled past rivals down centre-track to score by a length and a half.

Teetan rolled into a double when another four-year-old, Wicker, took the next race, the Class 5 Lukfook Jewellery Antique Gold Collection Handicap (1800m). That was the Richard Gibson-trained gelding’s first win at his 13th start.

Blake Shinn continued to maintain a steadily upward trajectory with his seventh win this season. It came aboard the Francis Lui-trained top-weight Valiant Dream in the opener, the Class 4 Lukfook Jewellery Stellar & Stellar Collection Handicap (1000m).

Lui made it a brace when Vincent Ho and Elite Patch repelled the late assault of the purton-ridden Mega Heart to take the Class 3 Lukfook Jewellery Love Forever Collection Handicap (1200m, dirt).

Dennis Yip has found it slow going so far this term but tagged a fifth win to his tally when Victorious Leader carried Purton to an easy win in the Class 5 Lukfook Jewellery Wedding Collection Handicap (1400m).

Silvestre de Sousa urged Sprint Forward to a battling half-length win over Mighty Giant in the Class 4 Lukfook Jewellery Goldstyle Handicap (1400m) to give trainer John Moore his first win in four meetings.

Telecom Rocket held off a posse of challengers under a determined Joao Moreira to take the Class 4 Lukfook Jewellery Dear Q Handicap (1600m) for trainer Me Tsui. 

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 18 December.