Racing

Hang's Decision sets new track record

Winner's time a surprise as jockey Prebble rode 1.8kg over handicapped weight

HANG'S DECISION set a new track record when winning the Hong Kong Reunification Cup Handicap over 1,400m at Sha Tin on Saturday, and, in doing so, handed Chris So and Brett Prebble a trainer-jockey double.

The combination had teamed up to take the opening race, the Class 4 Racing Goes On Handicap over 1,200m, with 2-1 favourite LEISURED FEET.

"It was a bit of a surprise for me because although his last few runs have been pretty good, this was Class 2 and Brett was putting up four pounds (1.8kg) overweight," said So, after Hang's Decision (14-1) had raced to a two-and-a-quarter-length victory over Circuit Hassler.

"If you'd asked me before the race if I was confident, I would have said 'no', but Brett did a great job today."

Prebble settled the Postponed gelding in sixth, tracking a leading posse of five that had the trailblazing Line Seeker at its head. The leader set hot opening fractions of 13.46sec and 21.11sec under 10lb claimer Matthew Poon.

The front rank faltered turning for home, and, after shifting out for daylight at the 400m point, the hooded Hang's Decision knuckled down and battled to the lead past the 2.3 favourite My Darling (Joao Moreira), keeping on gamely as the deep closers ran on all too late.

"I told Brett to sit in the middle and give him a kick but they went a lot faster than I thought they would in the early part of the race. Brett had him in a good spot and the three up ahead seemed to burn each other," said So.

The five-year-old clocked 1min 20.31sec to better the previous course record of 1min 20.40sec set by Flaming Lamborgini in October, 2006, and matched by Pocket Money in April, 2007.

"It was a nice, tough win and I think there's more scope in him," said Prebble.

"The handicapper's going to take a good look with the four pounds overweight and the margin of victory, but there was nothing left in the margin - he didn't win soft - what you saw was what he had. He gave me his full effort."

Prebble was a late call-up after Derek Leung was laid low with sickness, but with the replacement unable to ride at less than 120lb, 4lb heavier than the allotted 116lb, So sought and received permission from the stewards.

"When the stewards called and said Derek was sick, I had two choices and because Brett had ridden the horse before, I picked him," said the handler.

The consistent five-year-old was notching his third win of the campaign at start 11, having also registered four seconds and a third.

"The horse deserves a lot of credit because he has done a good job right from the early season to now," said So .

"He's very consistent and today he's done a really fast time - a track record. He won despite putting up four pounds over, so hopefully, the handicapper is kind to him."

Prebble was brought down to earth with a bump when the gelding dropped him to the turf at the exit from the track, but the Australian kept on smiling as he remounted and clasped hands with So in celebration.

"He was funny going out, there was a lot of noise and he jammed my leg up against the pony and then there's something that just spooked him when he went to come back in," explained Prebble.

"He's a very honest horse. When I rode him last season he gave me a nice feel and he's come a long way since then." - HKJC

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