IMPROVING FIFTY FIFTY PASSES CLASS 1 TEST
Trainer Peter Ho's grey captures the Chevalier Cup Handicap
Fifty Fifty continued his ascent through the grades with victory in the Chevalier Cup Handicap at Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong on Sunday.
Trainer Peter Ho's charge made light of his first start in Class 1, delivering a smart change of speed at the entrance to the home straight and sustaining his momentum to hold the late charge of Exultant.
The latter's effort had Four-Year-Old Classic Series written large across it.
Fifty Fifty is a year too advanced for Hong Kong's classics but the lightly-raced five-year-old proved again that he is one of Sha Tin's bright new things in sealing his third win at start No. 5 under jockey Karis Teetan.
Ho was coy about his stable star's next outing but did not rule out a two-week back-up into the undercard at the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races on Dec 10.
"It's too soon for him," Ho offered at first.
"But it depends. Maybe he looks great tomorrow, he eats up his feed and we'll have to see, but it depends on the owner, Mr Lee. I need to have a talk with the owner."
Ho is confident, though, that the talented grey can stretch out over more ground.
"He can handle 1,800 metres, easily," he said.
"You could see today, he's so relaxed. The way he won - the more you ask of him, the more he goes.
"Today, he jumped and when the jockey switched him off, he just totally relaxed. This horse is very smart, he was waiting for the signal and, once Teetan started the engine, he went."
Teetan had been caught behind runners until deep in the home run at his previous two starts.
Fifty Fifty's afterburners saved the day in the first of those races but the New Zealand-bred gelding had to settle for third after surging late over 1,400m last time.
This time, the Mauritian rider settled the 2.1 favourite in an uncomplicated spot, one off the fence, with naught but the breeze to his outer and within easy striking range of the leaders.
"He's improving all the time and I knew the 1,600m was no problem," said Teetan.
"He's gone to sleep behind them and I was just waiting for the right time to pull him out and let him go.
"He gave me a nice, long run from the turn in. Once horses came next to him, he went again.
"For me, he was the best horse in the race and he's on the up. Every time he's gone out there, he's tried his best.
"Peter said to me 'just fire the horse with a lot of confidence'. It hasn't been easy for him but he's run and he's travelled.
"This horse won overseas from the front, so showing daylight the whole way doesn't matter to him, he's got a nice change of gears. He's a lovely horse and he's shown his ability already."
Fifty Fifty ran to the wire through a final 400m split of 22.64sec to halt the stopwatch at 1min 34.58sec for the mile feature.
A half-length behind, Exultant ran through the closing section in 22.11sec under Matthew Chadwick.
Tony Cruz's charge had shaped well in fifth on his Hong Kong debut two weeks ago.
"I expected Exultant to win today but maybe it's come a bit early for him," said Cruz of the Irish import.
The Teofilo three-year-old was third to Churchill in the Group 1 Irish 2,000 Guineas (1,600m) in May, when named Irishcorrespondent.
"He's meant to run farther than this, he'll go 2,000m," Cruz continued.
"He'll go into the Hong Kong Classic Mile in January - we have to go that way with him."
Citron Spirit finished third, three-quarters of a length behind, with the game Marvel Hero fourth of the 10 runners. - HKJC