Naboo Attack achieved a very rare feat on Sunday – winning in Class Two on debut.
Since the start of the 2015-16 season, just eight horses have done it, so David Hayes’ four-year-old has joined an elite club.
Werther (December 2015), Eagle Way (December 2016), Gold Mount (February 2017), Ka Ying Star (January 2019), Private Secretary (December 2019), Beauty Legacy (January 2020) and Enrich Delight (November 2020) are the other members.
There is one Group One winner among them (Werther) and some solid Group performers, while the latter three have not won again since for various reasons (the tragic death of Enrich Delight remains a real shame).
It’s also worth noting that six of the eight started at double-figure odds with Beauty Legacy ($9) and Enrich Delight ($8.40) the only ones to jump at single-digit prices. They’re not always easy to find.
That’s because winning in Class Two is hard enough at the best of times. All the horses in that grade have ability – they’ve all won multiple races, either in their original jurisdictions or in Hong Kong.
What makes it so tough for horses to win on debut is that typically, they haven’t raced for six months (or more) after going through the whole quarantine process, moving halfway around the world and having to adjust to a completely different environment. And the opposition is talented, acclimatised and race-fit.
So to win in the manner that Naboo Attack did is very promising, but he’s going to need to keep progressing – and it looks like he can do that. He’s still got some weight to lose, he has trialled well and Vincent Ho Chak-yiu was pretty soft on him late.
The list of eight suggests there is no guarantee about where he ends up. If he’s a genuine A-grader, he’ll keep marching up the ranks and become a regular Group performer. If not, he’ll keep punching away in Class Two because a rating of 90 means there is nowhere to hide.
Hopefully, Naboo Attack’s record ends up looking more like Werther’s than Beauty Legacy’s.
Man didn’t think Enzemble could win
Enzemble’s win at Sha Tin on Sunday shocked plenty – including yours truly, who thought he had no chance and put it in writing for the world to see – and the stewards hauled in trainer Manfred Man Ka-leung over his improvement.
The six-year-old had run 12th and 13th in starts for Douglas Whyte early in the campaign before switching stables and finishing 12th and 13th in two runs for his new handler in April and May – beaten a combined margin of 23 lengths. There was a reason he was the rank outsider of the 14-horse field.
But a change of tactics and step up in trip clearly helped turn things around – but it wasn’t a result either Man or jockey Matthew Poon Ming-fai thought would unfold.
Man “believed that [while] Enzemble may improve somewhat on its recent form, he did not anticipate that the horse would be successful in [Sunday’s] race”.
Clearly not many others could find him (or Above and Vincy) either with the last $1,371 alive in the Triple Trio pool all falling by the wayside.
But it does create a real point of interest for Sunday’s meeting with something close to a HK$100 million dividend expected thanks to the HK$61 million jackpot.
There have been more discussions about the Triple Trio in the past 24 hours than there have been in the previous handful of seasons combined – and that’s a good thing.
It has genuinely piqued the interest of both hardcore and casual punters, most of whom are going to have a crack at the Hong Kong racing version of the lottery. Good luck to all (and clearly, don’t take my punting advice as gospel – there’s a reason I’m still working).