Bear Hero back to his best in hard-fought win
Report: Hong Kong, Saturday
BEAR HERO (David Ferraris/Weichong Marwing) rediscovered the form that made him last season's outstanding youngster by asserting late in the HKJC Community Trophy at Sha Tin from a decent field of sprinters on Saturday.
Something had to give in Saturday's Class 2 feature when Bear Hero, the reigning Champion Griffin, tackled Go Baby Go with both unbeaten in four starts down the 5f chute.
The former emerged best with a hard-fought win by a head from another course and distance specialist, Blaze King.
Go Baby Go appeared to have his chance and could only finish fourth. The Italian import Sir Eagles might well have won the race had he exited a gate closer to the preferred grandstand rail; none was finishing stronger in the closing stages before he wound up just half a length behind in third at the line.
Credit, nonetheless, goes to trainer Ferraris who extracted a career best from the still progressive Bear Hero after the three-year-old colt's misadventure to Melbourne for the Coolmore Stakes last October when he came home without a good chunk of a hoof after an overreach.
But on a day when former world champion Sacred Kingdom was paraded one final time as a farewell to his fans before flying off to his richly deserved retirement in Australia, the possibility that any potential successor to his vacant throne had surfaced in Saturday's race seemed remote.
And given that Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint winner Lucky Nine - a horse that races better over 7f or further - is likeliest at this stage to be crowned the Champion Sprinter at the end of the season, one wonders whether the Sha Tin conveyor belt responsible for so many readymade, top gradespeedsters has stalled for the time being.
Elsewhere, South African rider Marwing, recently returned to close the season in Hong Kong, broke the 300 winner barrier locally earlier aboard Iron Hawk (previously a dual winner as Ardour under the care of Richard Hannon) for trainer Danny Shum.
Shum later savoured a double himself when Fionn's Treasure benefited from the strength of the prolific Zac Purton to gain a nose margin in the Class 3 sprint on the turf.
In the other Class 3 dash, this time on the dirt, the progressive three-year-old Happy Index (Tony Cruz/Matt Chadwick) extended his unbeaten record on the surface to four and again in the most economical manner possible.
Another brace went the way of another South African, this time Tony Millard who prepared 25/1 outsider Gallant Mambo towin on the dirt for jockey Umberto Rispoli and 14-1 Supreme Flight (né Silvertrees when trained by Alan Swinbank) to oblige in the penultimate event under Austrian rider Andreas Suborics.
Trainer Me Tsui also got on the double train courtesy of Happy Cha Cha (Jeff Lloyd) and his fast rising sophomore gelding Wah May Star (Douglas Whyte) in the Class 1 handicap over 7f.
Finally, freshman trainer Richard Gibson has performed wonders with several horses he has inherited from other stables and exhibited this highly desirable craft yet again via Super Caga (Tim Clark) who won for the third time this season for his new handler.