SHA TIN racecourse can rightly be proud of the show it put on for the Longines Hong Kong International Races, with millions of viewers combined watching at the track or on television.
Not only did organisers provide top-class entertainment for the 97,000 visitors, they also excelled with high-end facilities of which any country would have been proud.
With an all-time record of around £160million bet on the day, the icing on the cake had to be all four Group One races going to Hong Kong horses for the first time.
This showed horse racing in Hong Kong can compete on the highest stage, and was a great achievement for the city.
The standout performance was by the best turf miler in the world, Beauty Generation, who, despite working hard in the initial stages of the race from an outside draw, still won easing down by three lengths.
The old saying of “you can’t go without the horse” certainly holds true for the majority of time in horse racing, but it was hard not to be impressed by both HK and UK champion jockeys Zac Purton and Silvestre de Sousa.
Reigning HK champion Purton, who was also aboard Beauty Generation, judged the pace to perfection when winning on Exultant in the HK Vase.
While De Sousa’s sublime front-running ride on HK Cup-winner Glorious Forever had old-timers reminiscing about the days when American legend Steve Cauthen, who was renowned for having a stopwatch embedded in his head, was riding.
Both Purton and De Sousa are in action at Happy Valley this afternoon and are joined by ‘Magic Man’ Joao Moreira, back in Hong Kong after a highly-successful stint in Japan and already amongst the winners, following a double at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Purton climbs aboard Fearless Fire, who won last time out, in a competitive handicap over six furlongs at 1.45pm, having been a clear-cut winner over course and distance a fortnight ago, but is now up in class.
He is up against the De Sousa-ridden and hat-trick-seeking Fantastic Fabio, up 15lbs for those wins, and also saddled with a negative outside draw.
Both may be unable to contain the highly-progressive four-year-old COMPLACENCY, whose latest form when unplaced at Sha Tin last month can safely be ignored.
On that occasion, he travelled further than any of his rivals in the race having been caught three-wide throughout the journey, but was still only beaten three lengths back in ninth place.
Previously he had won in comprehensive fashion when putting clear daylight between himself and his rivals at Sha Tin, suggesting he was a horse who would soon climb up the handicap.
Having never raced around the tight bends at the Valley, he was given a trial at the inner-city track at the end of last month and couldn’t have been more impressive, skipping away from his rivals in the closing stages.
With the successful combination of trainer Tony Cruz (Exultant) and Karis Teetan (Mr Stunning) both high on confidence after tasting success at the HKIR meeting on Sunday, the pair will be hoping Complacency can improve on their already impressive tally of 15 wins together this season.
With an inside draw an important bonus, they could have most to fear from Buoyant Boy and Navas.
Complacency 1.45pm Happy Valley