E-Super to regain lead in Million Challenge at Happy Valley

Tue 13th Feb 2018, 06:40

E-Super wins the Fakei Cup upon his seasonal reappearance in September.
©Hong Kong Jockey Club
By Andrew Hawkins
Jockey Nash Rawiller believes E-Super can regain the outright lead in the Hong Kong Airlines Million Challenge with a third win for the season in the Class 3 Calla Lily Handicap (1000m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (14 February). The annual series has just one week still to go.

The Hong Kong Airlines Million Challenge, which began in September, is a points-based competition for horses contesting Class 3 races and above at Happy Valley. It culminates in a big night of racing at the city track next Wednesday (21 February).

The Manfred Man-trained E-Super (133lb) is right in contention for the HK$650,000 first prize. He sits second in the Hong Kong Airlines Million Challenge standings behind Danny Shum’s Charity Glory, with a record of two wins, two seconds and a third from six starts this season.

E-Super’s latest win came over 1000m at Happy Valley on 27 December with Rawiller in the saddle, while he stepped up to 1200m for his most recent run, a Class 2 on 31 January, finishing third to Super Fluke. Rawiller feels that the return to 1000m is a positive on Wednesday night.

“I think he races very well over 1000m at Happy Valley,” the jockey said. “He’s just a competitive little horse. Whatever you put him in at a sprinting trip, he’s competitive. I think his favoured option though is the 1000m.

“He’s freshened up nicely since his last run, which wasn’t long ago - obviously, that’s not ideal, only a couple of weeks – but I gave him a really quiet piece of work on the weekend, he gave me a great feel and he’s feeling nice and fresh.”

Two back, E-Super clung on after leading throughout, but Rawiller believes that the six-year-old is more likely to find himself just behind the leaders this time around.

“I will try to jump as best as we can, get a nice, clean break, be positive and just let them sort themselves out around me,” he said. “He’s probably unlikely to be able to lead again with some of those horses in there like Ocean Roar, but he’ll certainly put himself right on the backs of them. He can still race very well ridden that way, too. He can let down off a hot tempo.”

E-Super is one of eight course and distance winners in the 12-runner line-up. Country Melody (132lb), Money Boy (122lb), General Iron (120lb), Moment Of Power (115lb), Mr Right (115lb), Diamond Master (114lb) and Ocean Roar (113lb) all boast wins over the Happy Valley 1000m.

The Calla Lily Handicap is the sixth of eight races and will jump at 9.45pm.

Purton eyes off Fownes’ speedy jet

The Class 3 Daffodil Handicap (1200m) sees jockey Zac Purton reunited with Cheerfuljet (120lb). Purton rode the Caspar Fownes-trained galloper to two big-margin victories in Class 4 over the Happy Valley 1200m, the latest a three and a half length triumph on 20 December.

As a result, Cheerfuljet was sent off favourite at his first Class 3 attempt on 17 January. However, the four-year-old struck trouble in the straight and crossed the line under a hold.

Purton believes that Cheerfuljet has the ability to be competitive if he can reproduce his most recent victory.

“Early on, he had some issues,” Purton said. “He had a lot of speed but he just couldn’t sustain it, he was quite weak and he would fall away. But now he is a lot cleaner and a bit stronger, of course he has shown the same speed but when you ask him, he’s got that turn of foot and he’s giving you something.

“He’s definitely improved in the last 12 months, no doubt. His last win was a pretty nice effort and a repeat of that performance sees him competitive in Class 3.”

The eight-race Happy Valley card begins with the Class 5 Rose Handicap (1800m) at 11.15am on Wednesday.

Hong Kong International Sale set for 16 March

The Hong Kong International Sale (HKIS) is set for Friday, 16 March, one of two sales to be hosted in both 2018 and 2019, and is expected to feature 28 lots purchased and pre-trained by the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Amongst the scheduled lots available to eligible permit-holders is an Irish-bred full-brother to multiple Group 1-winning sprinter Slade Power (Dutch Art ex Girl Power) as well as a gelded son of Holy Roman Emperor (ex Ysoldina) which is a half-brother to 2017 Epsom Derby winner Wings