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Chill Chibi impresses Danny Shum at Happy Valley: ‘this time we saw his real ability’

Three-year-old breaks through for his first win, while the Jamie Richards-trained Hoss also catches the eye at the city circuit

This season’s four-year-old series only began a few days ago with last weekend’s Classic Mile, but already Danny Shum Chap-shing is wondering what Chill Chibi could be capable of as an older horse next campaign.

The three-year-old impressed Shum with his victory in the first section of the Class Four Oi Kwan Handicap (1,650m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, with the veteran handler quick to shift his focus to the future.

“It takes a nice horse to do that at three at Happy Valley. His first run was OK, but this time we saw his real ability,” Shum said.

“I think he’ll go to Class Three – I think they’ll put him up eight points in the ratings. But in Class Three, if he gets a reasonable draw, I think he can handle it.

“Hopefully, next season when he gets stronger and his mind matures – he still doesn’t know what to do – he can be a nice four-year-old.”

Chill Chibi was travelling in midfield when Vincent Ho Chak-yiu launched a mid-race move aboard Legion Of Merit, taking off from near the back at the 1,000m as the field crawled and assuming the lead 850m from home.

Zac Purton then got favourite Packing Succeeder going from forward of midfield to sit outside Legion Of Merit, and the ensuing speed battle between that pair allowed Chill Chibi to surge over the top of his rivals and notch his first victory after finishing second on debut last month.

Chill Chibi’s success with Jerry Chau Chun-lok in the saddle completed a double for Shum after the earlier victory of Regency Master under Matthew Poon Ming-fai in the Class Five Morrison Hill Handicap (1,800m).

The victory was of greater significance for Poon than most cellar-grade successes, with the 29-year-old snapping a 64-ride winning drought – the most of any Hong Kong jockey – to move to 12 victories for the campaign.

Another progressive galloper to catch the eye at the midweek meeting was the Jamie Richards-trained Hoss, who flashed home under Purton to break his maiden at start four in the second section of the Class Four Stubbs Handicap (1,200m).

After swiftly settling third last on the rail from gate eight, Purton stayed on the fence until the final stages before squeezing between long-time lead pair Solar Partner and Infinite Power to snatch a thrilling victory in the final strides.

“It was a really good effort. Obviously, he was a long way back and I rode for luck and the runs came,” Purton said.

“He was a little bit reluctant to take the gaps. He’s still a little bit unsure of what he’s doing out there. Even coming back, I had to trot him because he wants to shy at everything.

“But he’s obviously got ability. He’s just got to put it together, but he was pretty soft on the line.”

Purton kept his season ticking over with a brace of his own, also saluting aboard E Legend for trainer Manfred Man Ka-leung in the second section of the Oi Kwan Handicap.

The reigning champion jockey moved to 85 victories for the season, meaning he is exactly halfway to Joao Moreira’s single-season Hong Kong record of 170 wins after just 41 of the 88 meetings.

The other jockey to land a double was Purton’s closest pursuant in the title race, Vincent Ho Chak-yiu, who now has 44 successes to his name after delivering the goods aboard Ricky Yiu Poon-fai’s Loriz and the Tony Cruz-trained Righteous Arion. Yiu also pocketed a double of his own, taking out the final event with Jolly Ruler.

All was largely quiet on the DBS x Manulife Million Challenge front at the competition’s penultimate meeting, with Excellent Peers and Yo Beauty failing to register points to ensure competition leader Nearly Fine maintains his buffer at the top.

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