Straight Arron avenges Hong Kong Derby defeat with stunning win

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Banishing memories of Derby (2000m) disappointment, Straight Arron will be given the chance to vindicate trainer Caspar Fownes' lofty opinion in higher grades after the gelding's stunning win at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Unsuited by a pedestrian tempo in the Hong Kong Derby on 19 March, Straight Arron finished fifth behind Voyage Bubble in the Classic, but showcased his true potential with a withering surge from midfield under Vincent Ho to crush Sword Point by 3.25 lengths.

The authoritative manner of the win prompted Fownes to declare Straight Arron would have won the Derby had it been truly run last month.

“It's a bit unfortunate in the big race (Derby) that we weren't in that same position (as today) because it would have been the same result,” Fownes said.

“Blake (Shinn) rode a great race in the Derby but unfortunately there was no pace – they just slacked it off – and today's race showed what the horse's true potential is. He is a very, very good horse. A very high-quality horse and he's got a big future.

“We'll just see what the handicapping department gives him and see how he pulls up. There's a couple more races left for him before the season's out, but looking forward to good things from him in the future. He's a nice horse.”

With his second victory in Hong Kong, the former Australian galloper led home a first three of beaten Derby runners ahead of Sword Point and Sweet Encounter.

Boosting hopes of a successful Hong Kong trainers' championship defence, Frankie Lor posted a treble to close within four wins of 11-time champion in a tightening battle for overall honours.

Slotting his third treble from the past eight Sha Tin meetings, Lor figured with Youthful Deal, Hava Nageela and Everyone's Victory. With 48 wins after 64 of 88 meetings, Lor has edged in front of (47) to be within striking range of Size (52).

“Today the horses are all in good form and they all put in a good performance,” Lor said before addressing the title race. “I'm just trying to stay close. My old boss (Size) is a champion and hard to beat, but I'll always try.”

Hava Nageela made it two in a row with a grinding win under Silvestre de Sousa in the Class 3 D'Aguilar Peak Handicap (1650m, dirt), marking his second success on the All- Track.

“He doesn't need to only run on dirt, turf is still ok, so this win makes me happy,” Lor said. “I think we'll head to the Class 2 1650m on the dirt on 10 May.”

Lor was again to the fore when a patient ride was pivotal in Everyone's Victory's success in the Class 4 Mount Davis Handicap (1200m, dirt) – the Deep Field gelding's third over the course and distance.

Vincent Ho, who had a double at the meeting, sealed Lor's treble with victory atop Youthful Deal in the Class 3 Kowloon Cricket Club Centenary Cup Handicap (1200m, dirt).

Sparkling Dolphin swept to a drought-breaking victory for trainer Me Tsui and jockey Vagner Borges in the Class 4 Middle Gap Handicap (1000m). Tsui had been winless since 26 February, while Borges had not savoured success since Speedy Mouse's triumph at on 8 February.

“It's very good – the last win was a long time ago, so I'm very happy,” Borges said. “I'm a bit surprised with this horse. We had a chance in a strong race, so I'm very happy, of course.”

Peter Ho improved his season's tally to 13 wins with Reve Parisien's all-the-way success in the Class 3 Association Of Hong Kong Racing Journalists Challenge Cup Handicap (1200m) under .

“I'm very happy with this win because this horse is not easy to train,” Ho said. “He did a good job today. Hopefully, I can have more winners.”

Douglas Whyte and combined for a brace, striking with Blue Marlin in the Class 4 Pottinger Peak Handicap (1400m) and Beauty Champ, Class 3 Siu Ma Shan Handicap (1400m).

“Blue Marlin's taken a bit of time, mentally. He's been a work in progress, but thankfully we're seeing the better side of him, he still gets a little bit nervous and anxious behind the gates. He gets a bit nervy. In time, when he learns to settle, I think he's got scope,” Whyte said.

With 17 wins for the season to date, Bentley has shared eight of those with Whyte.

“Dougie has been one of my main supporters, to be fair, since I've been here. So, I'm very grateful for all the opportunities he has given me and it's nice to repay the faith with a couple of wins, so I'm delighted,” Bentley said.

Danny Shum-trained Iron Will broke through for Karis Teetan in the Class 4 Magazine Gap Handicap (1650m, dirt) before 's followed suited for Zac Purton, prevailing at his 23rd start in the Class 4 Mount Butler Handicap (1600m).

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