Harry Bentley Dominates at Happy Valley with Treble

March 27, 2024

Harry Bentley scores with Show Respect. (HKJC/Alex Evers)

By Daryl Timms

Harry Bentley posted his first treble of the season to dominate at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (27 March) as Tony Cruz laid down a promising marker ahead of California Spangle’s tilt at the G1 Al Quoz Sprint (1200m) in Dubai on Saturday night (30 March).

Bentley, 31, continued a solid March campaign with wins for Cruz (Winning Heart), Chris So (Our Lucky Glory) and Mark Newnham (Show Respect), while also slotting a second and two thirds from eight rides to win the jockey challenge with his first treble since October 2022.

Bentley opened his account by scoring for Cruz on Winning Heart in the first section of the Class 4 Lok Fu Handicap (1200m).

Formerly known as Charlemont in Ireland, where he won his only start in 2022, Winning Heart jumped cleanly from barrier one and sat just behind the speed before spearing clear to triumph at his 13th Hong Kong start.

In Dubai overseeing California Spangle’s preparation for the Al Quoz Sprint, Cruz notched his 33rd win of the Hong Kong season with Winning Heart.

Sealing a double, Bentley registered his 25th win of the season when Our Lucky Glory snared the second section of the Class 4 Lok Fu Handicap (1200m) as So brought up a brace, having also scored with United Endeavors and Keith Yeung in the second section of the Class 4 To Kwa Wan Handicap (1650m).

“It’s good to get a double,” So said. “The first winner – Keith did a really good job. Class 4 is very competitive, it’s hard to tell who will win. Keith chose to come back to the three-wide line with cover with the slow pace and hit the line and I think that was the key.

“(Our Lucky Glory) is a tiny horse, we cannot run him much and we have to stall. Harry knows him well. Last time he ran second, but I think the draw tonight helped a lot. I hope he can still improve.”

Bentley made it three when Show Respect impressively won the Class 3 Ma Tau Kok Handicap (1650m) to earn a HK$1.5 million PP bonus.

Fresh from BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) success, Zac Purton produced a sublime ride on David Hayes-trained Snowalot to win the first section of the Class 4 To Kwa Wan Handicap (1650m). Purton found the fence from barrier 11 before the field reached the turn out of the straight, settling second last, before driving the Contributer gelding between runners to charge clear.

Hayes continued a strong season with Harmony N Blessed’s triumph in the Class 3 Kowloon City Handicap (1200m), taking the dual Hong Kong champion trainer’s tally of wins for the season to 34 – to equal his 2022/23 haul. The win also provided Andrea Atzeni a belated birthday present after the Italian turned 33 on Tuesday (26 March).

Zac Purton has 85 wins for the season. (HKJC/Alex Evers)
Zac Purton has 85 wins for the season. (HKJC/Alex Evers)

Purton took his season’s return to 85 wins when he coaxed the best out of Beauty Waves in the Class 3 Hok Yuen Handicap (1000m). Having his first start for Pierre Ng, the Starspangledbanner gelding clocked in 56.88s.

A recent trial winner by more than nine lengths, Beauty Waves collected a HK$1.5 million PP Bonus for his first Hong Kong victory after winning over 1000m in Ireland for Patrick J Flynn when known as Starspangledwaves.

“He’s been knocking on the door before. He was pretty strong tonight, but I think he’s still got a lot to learn,” Ng said. “You can see him just running up over the last 200 or 300 (metres) and then he gets going. He’s still got a lot to develop. I’ll keep him at the same distance and hopefully during the summertime he can get more mature.

“I’m just lucky enough to have him at this time and to get the win and bonus for the owners.”

Can’t Go Wong broke through at his 18th Hong Kong start for Frankie Lor, finishing stoutly to land the Class 5 Wang Tau Hom Handicap (1650m) for Alexis Badel. The Per Incanto gelding started his Hong Kong career as a 76-rater but his inability to score had seen the five-year-old drop to 40 in the handicap.

Group 2-placed in Australia for Ciaron Maher & David Eustace, Can’t Go Wong won twice as a three-year-old at Sandown Racecourse, Melbourne in 2021.

“We’ve waited for a long time. The horse came to Hong Kong last year and he was in Class 2. He was going to the Derby last season, but unfortunately his form in Hong Kong wasn’t very good,” Lor said.

“He needed more time and his rating dropped, he’s now dropped to Class 5 and got the win. I hope he can go up to Class 4 and get more wins.”

David Hall-trained Sharpen Bright proved too strong in the Class 4 Ma Tau Wai Handicap (2200m) under Karis Teetan, who has 57 wins for the season.

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday (31 March).

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