It is great to be in the top five of the top performers with Betfan and have a 42% strike rate with 23% return on investment, as my troops know with me it’s a steady way and not doing a Mr Mannering when things go pear shape, which they can do in this game from time to time. Hope you all got on the late buzzer from me on Sunday, Two Taffs (5/1) winning the bumper at Market Rasen he looks a lovely big horse with a bright future.
The highly regarded Luger triumphed in the HKG1 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2,000 metres/10 furlongs) at Sha Tin last Sunday, as jockey Zac Purton and trainer John Size formed a rare collaboration.
The current Champion Jockey had not ridden for the seven-time Champion Trainer since 11 July, 2012, but when Luger’s regular partner Douglas Whyte opted to don the Pan Sutong silks aboard Giant Treasure for this year’s edition of the BMW Hong Kong Derby, Purton was the man Size turned to. And it was Purton, in the colours of Terry Fok Kwong-hang, who was punching the air in victory after the bay gave jockey and owner a first success in the HK $18-million contest.
The Australian-bred overcame a wide passage to land the spoils by three quarters of a length from the deep-closing pair of Got Fly and Romantic Touch. The race attracted a crowd of over 64,000, the highest since 1998.
“Three wide without cover is not the ideal position to be in, but I just kept telling myself in the back of my head that I was on the best horse in the race and not to worry too much about it – just try to keep him in his rhythm and keep him balanced and keep him happy,” said Purton, who settled the Choisir gelding handy to the pace set by the Richard Gibson-trained Obliterator.
“There wasn’t a stage in the race when I could make a move to go forward, so I wasn’t really left with many other options – I just had to cop it and try and keep him happy and get the job done.”
Obliterator had run his race by the time the 14 runners turned into the home stretch, with Luger, Contentment and Giant Treasure forming a line of three challengers; Luger won that battle, drawing clear at the 300-metre point. With a length on his closest pursuers, Purton drove his mount for the line. The Gibson-trained Got Fly responded to a mighty drive from Ryan Moore – a last-gasp arrival after a flight delay – likewise the Benno Yung-trained Romantic Touch under Tye Angland, but neither could match Luger’s firepower.
“He is a very relaxed horse and he was so switched off during the run that when the tempo quickened prior to the straight, it took him probably 50 or 80 metres to pick up,” added Purton. “Thunder Fantasy was able to sneak underneath me, and that actually woke my guy up when I got that bump, so I’ll give Karis (Teetan) a little bit of credit there, he got my guy going for me!”
The win banished speculation from some quarters that the son of Choisir might not last the trip. Luger had compiled a record of five 1,400m wins from eight starts prior to winning at his first attempt at 1,600m last time out.
“He sat three wide, no cover; he was second up after three months; first try at the trip; and he’s run it out as strongly as you could expect. There are bigger things in store for this horse, he’s very talented!” said Purton.
For Size, the win was a second in Hong Kong’s blue riband contest, a race restricted to four-year-olds. The master trainer had previously won the race with Fay Fay in 2012.
“Luger’s always been impressive, every time he has been to the races, really,” he said. “He has been a good horse from the first day he set foot on a racetrack. He made very slow progress because I didn’t race him very much as a three-year-old, and then he has been lightly-raced this season too. But he has always shown that he would be a Group 1 horse.”
“I haven’t got any plan at all. We will see how he pulls up and probably give him an easy couple of weeks and see how he gets on.”
The John Moore-trained Helene Happy Star ran on to take fourth with a final 400m sectional of 22.63s. Third-placed Romantic Touch ran the stretch the fastest, clocking 22.60s, while Got Fly registered 22.64s. Luger’s final sectional was 22.78s.
The BMW Hong Kong Derby is the third and final leg of the Hong Kong Four-Year-old Series. The first leg, the HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Mile, went to Beauty Only, sixth in the Derby, while the second leg, the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1,800m), went to Thunder Fantasy, eighth in today’s race. Barry Geraghty is hoping he can return to racing in time for the Punchestown festival after a hairline fracture in a fall at Downpatrick last weekend.
Yarmouth have reseeded the home straight and are praying that it will be ready to race on June 26, there is more chance of that than me going for a haircut.
Tamarkuz (13/8 with Coral) looks a good thing in the Godolphin Mile at Maydan on Saturday and in the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster I have bet Gabrial’s Kaka E/W at 14/1 with Hills.
Back next Thursday.
Kevan Minter – The Colonel