South Australian trainer David Hayes has made a near
perfect start to the Year of the Horse, by winning one of the two Group One feature events
at the Chinese Year's first meeting in Hong Kong yesterday.
A couple of hours after taking The Bauhinia Sprint Trophy,
Hayes went close to taking the big double when he finished with the runn-up in The Hong
Kong Classic Mile.
The Australian bred Chief's Crown gelding Charming City a
break in the middle stages of the race and was then able to hold out the challenge issued
by another Australian bred galloper Solid Contact.
The HK$4.5 million event was the first leg of the Sprinters
Triple Crown and Hayes confirmed after the race that Charming City will continue on in the
"We'll keep him for the Centenary Sprint Cup (on March
17) and the Chairman's Sprint Prize (on April 21) now," Hayes said.
"He's a top-line Hong Kong sprinter and he deserves to
take his chance in those big sprints," he added.
If Charming City does manage to win the two other legs of the series
connections will bag themselves a HK$2 million bonus. A consolation of HK$800,000 is
awarded if two of the three are won.
Chasing the big Group One double on the card Hayes went
close with his bonny mare Super Molly storming home for second in The Hong Kong Classic
After getting back in the field the daughter of Snippets
was unable to bridge the margin already established by Olympic Express, who gave Weichong
Marwing another feature race.
The British bred ruined what came close to an Australian
clean sweep. While Super Molly was second the third, fourth and fifth horses all had
strong Aussie links.
Third home was the Victorian bred son of Danehill, Jeune
King Prawn one of the rising talents in Hong Kong. He finished just ahead of Aucash, who
is the half brother to Melbourne Cup winner Saintly. Fifth home was the David Hayes
trained All Thrills Too.
Apart from Hayes' triumph with Charming City there was joy
for former brilliant Victorian jockey come trainer Geoff Lane who saddled up Favourite
Express to win the third race on the ten event card.
Basil Marcus, who rode Charming City, shared riding honours
with Olivier Doleuze, Weichong Marwing and Eric Legrix. However, the day didn't have the
best ending when Legrix was outed for careless riding.