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|Memorable Races at Happy Valley Racecourse in Recent Years|
Happy Valley Racecourse is one of the leading tracks in Hong Kong and Asia. The course, which is situated in the Wan Chai District, has held races since 1845 and today can hold up to 55,000, making it one of the biggest sports venues in Asia.
Here is look back at some of the leading races to take place at the course in recent years.
Frankie Dettori Wins 2011 Cathay Pacific International Jockeys’ Championship with a Record Tally
Frankie Dettori is regarded by many horse racing fans as one of the greatest jockeys of his generation. In 2011, the Italian won the International Jockeys’ Championship at Happy Valley for the third time in his career with a record point tally of 30 which still stand today. The UK based jockey was successful in 1999 and 2001, but this was his most dominant performance.
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Stepping in as a substitute for Corey Nakatani, Dettori won the opening leg of the card on board Travel Guide where he found extra out of the horse in a close finish. His second win of the day came with Regency Winner where he produced one of the best rides in the history of the competition. The former Derby winning rider was patient with his mount as he held him up at the back of the field and waited as long as possible before producing a perfectly timed run to get by a neck in the closing stages. There were also lots of near-misses for the winning jockey as he consistently scored points across the meeting.
Packing Dragons Wins Shan Kwong Handicap for Second Year Running
Six-year-old sprinter Packing Dragon has established a reputation as a course specialist at Happy Valley where he recently won his sixth race at the track. The gelding’s most recent success came in the Shan Kwong Handicap where he won the valuable 1600m contest for the second year running.
In 2017, Packing Dragon just held on by a head in a close finish ahead of Circuit Land. Less than one length separated the first four horses home on that occasion. It was also a thrilling finish in this year’s race as Ricky Yiu’s runner was given the verdict after a photo finish, with the official distance being a neck ahead of second-placed Winner’s Way.
The victory for Packing Dragon at Happy Valley also brought up the biggest day of apprentice jockey Matthew Poon Ming-Fai’s career as he had a double on the card. The six-year-old will now head to the first leg of the Macau Hong Kong Trophy in March where he can be backed in Hong Kong by those who are looking to place a bet on the horse to continue his hot form. Horse racing betting is one of the two types of sports betting allowed in Hong Kong, the other market being European football.
Let’s Take It Easy’s Victory in 2017 Longines International Jockeys’ Championship (3rd Leg)
Let’s Take It Easy helped Hong Kong based jockey Zac Purton win the 2017 International Jockeys’ Championship when he prevailed in the third leg of the meeting. The three year old colt was the Australian’s second winner on the card as he also partnered Our Hero in what was a huge day for the 34 year old.
The annual meeting includes the best jockeys from around the world and in 2017 featured Ryan Moore, Silvestre De Sousa, Hugh Bowman and Joao Moreira, however, it was Purton who used his experience around Happy Valley to good effect to finish at the top of the standings at the end of the card with 24 points. De Sousa ended the day in second place with 18 points, while Frenchman Pierre-Charles Boudot had to settle for third with 16 points.
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Purton was cheered on by the majority of the record crowd of 29,294. The Hong Kong based rider has now notched up more than 750 winners in Asia since he moved there in 2012 from Australia. He will be hoping to defend his crown in 2018 in this international event at Happy Valley in what is one of the biggest betting meetings of the year in Hong Kong.
Star Sprinter IVictory Makes Winning Debut at Happy Valley
IVictory is a sprinter whose reputation is growing with each run and that was the case after his debut at Happy Valley in February 2018 where he was too quick for his rivals in the 1200m contest at the Hong Kong racecourse.
Trainer John Size has a number of talented sprinters in his ranks including D B Pin, Hot King Prawn and Mr Stunning, but IVictory has the potential to better his stablemates if he continues to improve at the rate he is doing. Under the hands of his regular jockey Moreira, the son of Mossman chased the leaders at Happy Valley and then made his move with 400m to go - which was enough for him to go clear in the closing stages of the race.
This victory was Ivictory’s fifth in six starts since he made his debut last year. A leg injury kept him off the track back in January. However, he has now had two wins since then so is very much back to full fitness ahead of what could be a huge year for him in 2018. IVictory’s Happy Valley success has also ensured he has risen up the official ratings, where he is now 94. Size will be delighted with the way his horse handled the track in Wan Chai which means he is more likely to return there again in the near future.
Let’s hope for more memorable occasions at Happy Valley in 2018 as the calendar is packed with a top class schedule for the rest of the year.