Doctor Geoff just loves Happy Valley
Francis Lui-trained 6YO scoots away with the Group 3 January Cup Handicap over 1,800m
Doctor Geoff scooted away with the Group 3 January Cup Handicap over 1,800m at Happy Valley on Wednesday night to set up a potentially big month for his connections.
Francis Lui has emerged as a force in the trainer's title race this season, aided by the ascendant Vincent Ho, who has guided 11 of the stable's 25 winners.
The pair linked up with owner Huang Kai Wen for Wednesday night's feature, with all three men anticipating big results in the upcoming Four-Year-Old Classic Series.
Lui also trains Huang's rising star More Than This heading into the Series' first leg, the Hong Kong Classic Mile on Jan 27, in which Ho is slated to ride Lui's other exciting young talent, Golden Sixty.
Huang, who also has Playa Del Puente as a Classic Series candidate, is best known for his Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint victor Peniaphobia.
But on Wednesday, the spotlight fell on Doctor Geoff, sixth in the final two legs of the 2018 Classic Series, and shaping as a specialist these days over the Valley's 1,800m.
"He likes the track, he likes the distance and he had a light weight," said Lui, after the six-year-old had pocketed a third win on the track and trip.
"He enjoys it here, because sometimes he's nervous but when he comes here he's calmer. The short straight here also seems to suit him better."
Doctor Geoff settled in a tracking spot outside race leader Time Warp, battled to the fore on the final turn and kicked on for a 11/2-length score despite hanging out running to the line.
The winning time was 1min 48.10sec.
"At one spot, I thought Time Warp might be better than us but, when I hit the straight, my horse picked up really well and was strong to the line," said Ho.
Doctor Geoff, winner of the Listed Tetrarch Stakes as a three-year-old in Ireland, was making his Group race breakthrough, having raced in pattern grade only twice previously.
"I wouldn't say I was confident about winning but he's in good form and the preparation I'd given him, everything was ready for this race," said Lui.
The diminutive gelding, weighing 455kg for this test, carried a featherweight 52.2kg.
"He struggles with bigger weights," said Lui.
He suggested his charge might struggle when he rises above his current 101 rating and that a light burden in Group 3 handicaps would be the ideal scenario.
"It will be difficult now. I'll have to check the programme," he said. - HKJC
Yesterday's Ipoh trackwork
WORKOUTS BY HORSES RUNNING ON SUNDAY
Slow work: Archer Company, Loyalty's Angel.
Slow work: Comecatchme, Keen Dragon, Elaine Lover .
Slow work: Grand Cross, Black And White.
Slow work: Highland Falcon, Luck Success, Don't Forget This, Napoleon.
Slow work: Luck Happy, Golden Empire, Alasamo.
Slow work: Davinci, Not Usual Prince
Slow work: Littlebitofjoy, Aspen.
Slow work: Asprey, Multiblue Tosca, Hun Yeang Road H, Pentagon.
Slow work: My Aim, Golden Rooster, Powerful Star, Puravi, Rant And Rave, Sparkler.
Slow work: Doctor Ginger, Lucky Giant, Julius Caesar, My First Million, Sing Roulette, Trinity Honor .
Slow work: Soon You Think.
Slow work: Relau Star, Star Genius, Ten Emperor, Andado.