Karis Teetan topped the win count at Sha Tin Racecourse this afternoon, Sunday, 7 October, with a fine five-timer that included not only Pakistan Friend’s short-priced score in the Chinese Recreation Club Challenge Cup Handicap (1600m) but also a victory snagged in the stewards’ room.
The Cup success was achieved with new ally Tony Cruz but two of the Mauritian’s tally – including the stewards’ intervention – came in tandem with long-time supporter Tony Millard, who continued his fine start to the campaign with a treble.
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“These days don’t always happen but I had a good book of rides today,” Teetan said after the Frankie Lor-trained Morethanlucky sealed the quintet in the afternoon’s final race, the Class 2 Yew Handicap (1400m).
Teetan ended the day with 11 wins for the term, three behind champion Australian jockey Zac Purton, but played down talk of a title challenge.
“It’s still very early in the season; Zac is pretty good and it’s difficult to go past him,” he said. “I don’t want to say too much and get a big head but Joao (Moreira) is not here now so there are a few opportunities out there. I’m not going to think that big at this stage.”
This Pakistan’s no star yet
Teetan delivered an upbeat report about Pakistan Friend’s development after the four-year-old landed the Class 4 trophy race by three-quarters of length – the Australian-bred gelding’s second success from only four starts.
“The first time I rode him he gave me a really good feel,” Teetan said. “I knew that he could only improve mentally and he was a different horse today – he was still not focused 100 percent but he should take another step forward again. He feels like a really genuine horse.
“I believe he’ll be decent, maybe a long-distance horse. The feeling he gave me, I think he can still improve and if he can do that he can go a bit higher.”
Cruz, meanwhile, is taking the view that Pakistan Friend will likely stall on his progression some way shy of the elite grades.
The gelding might sport the Kerm Din silks made famous by the exploits of his illustrious stablemate Pakistan Star, but a star he is not – according to his handler. That assessment was delivered despite the gelding having drawn too obvious comparisons with the G1 winner after he rushed to a deep-closing win on debut late last term.
“He might make it up to Class 2 and he should go over farther in time, but for now I’ll keep him to this course and distance and see what he can do,” Cruz said after the Hong Kong International Sale graduate had stopped the clock at 1m 34.55s.
“It was a smaller field (11 runners), he got a good position behind the leader and I was always sure he would kick home against this opposition,” he said, adding, “He’s improving though, everything he does coming out of the gate is better and he’ll come on for this.”
The handler enjoyed a double when King Genki nicked race nine – his third win over 1650m on the all-weather track – under 10lb claimer Victor Wong.
Teetan kicked off his winning run in race four, eking just enough from the Caspar Fownes-trained Chaparral Star (131lb) to hold off the late run of Sports Master (130lb).
A brace followed for the Teetan/Millard alliance. The latter success took the form of a centre-track drive atop the newcomer Super Star, another local sale graduate; the first was claimed in the stewards’ room after High Five (128lb) was promoted to the top spot upon the demotion of the Derek Leung-ridden Endearing (119lb) for interference caused in the closing stages.
Freedman denied a double
Endearing’s demotion denied trainer Michael Freedman a double on the day and was the second such turnaround. Diamond Friends was awarded race two in the steward’s room after suffering interference caused by first-past-the-post Let Us Win – Umberto Rispoli and trainer Jimmy Ting were the beneficiaries that time.
Freedman, meanwhile, had already enjoyed the high of My Beginner’s Luck’s triumph in race three. Matthew Poon steered the stable’s third winner of the campaign.
“Matthew’s five-pound claim is a big advantage, especially on the on-pace horses,” Freedman said. “It was a similar scenario to when he won on Sparkling Dragon for me at Happy Valley last month. This horse gets a bit worked up beforehand and I was a bit concerned watching him go out but he has got natural speed and we were hoping he could get out and get an uncontested lead like that.”
Murray hits the mark
Callan Murray was rewarded for a patient outlook as he took the opener and snared a first win for the campaign. The young South African’s relief was expressed with a loud whoop as he passed the winning post aboard Top Ace, his 24th mount this season and the first leg of the Millard treble.
“It’s just a relief. Every winner is nice but my last winner was actually in June, since before my hip surgery, so it’s been frustrating and this will give me the confidence I needed,” Murray said.
This afternoon’s success on the Millard-trained galloper was the rider’s first in Hong Kong since he returned to his homeland in July 2017 following a late-season four-win stint.
Murray, 20, landed back in Hong Kong in August with a view to securing a long-term contract in Hong Kong. But his early season hopes took a knock when he picked up a two-meeting suspension in September.
“The suspension was the most frustrating but these things happen, I was patient enough and I think it’s made me a better person,” he said.
Premiership leader Purton took race five on the Lor-trained Witness Hunter.
Hong Kong racing will continue at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 10 October.