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Atullibigeal delivers for Hall, Avdulla in TVB Cup

February 19, 2024 at 3:41:20 AM

Thwarted by bad luck this season, Atullibigeal deservedly clinched the HK$2.84 million Class 2 TVB Cup Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (18 February) for trainer David Hall as Brenton Avdulla extended a powerful mid-season surge.

Thwarted by bad luck this season, Atullibigeal deservedly clinched the HK$2.84 million Class 2 TVB Cup Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (18 February) for trainer David Hall as Brenton Avdulla extended a powerful mid-season surge.

Beaten a short head when second in the Class 1 Chevalier Cup Handicap (1600m) and a close fourth in the Class 1 Panasonic Handicap (1400m), Atullibigeal (130lb) bravely threaded narrow gaps in the straight today to fend off Superb Boy (123lb) and Drombeg Banner (132lb) after 2.2 favourite Global Harmony refused to leave the barriers under Zac Purton.

“A little bit disappointing he wasn’t able to win the Chevalier Cup or the Panasonic Cup – he was unlucky in both those races, so (it’s) rewarding to get this race today and hopefully he’s not finished with yet,” Hall said.

“We had the barrier (gate three) and it looked like he was going to get a good run, but obviously he was in a bit of a pocket there and had to find room. But he got clear and he’s shown before he can be brave in between horses and he certainly was again today.”

Celebrating successive Sha Tin doubles with Fast Buck’s win for John Size in the Class 4 TVB Tung Wah Charity Show Handicap (1200m, dirt), Avdulla said: “Atullibigeal was good. Good result – I thought I had one of those books where things would need to go right for me to ride a winner, but everything has worked out well. Can’t complain.”

Jamie Richards endured a bitter-sweet weekend with the decision to retire gun sprinter Wellington and the victory of G Liner in the Class 4 TVB Po Leung Kuk Gala Spectacular Handicap (1650m, dirt) for Karis Teetan.

Richards confirmed Wellington, winner of 12 races in Hong Kong, including four Group 1s, and more than HK$68 million in prizemoney, would be retired after pulling up with an issue following Saturday’s (17 February) Happy Valley trials.

“He’ll be retired tomorrow (Monday, 19 February),” Richards said of the seven-year-old. “Such is life, he’s getting a little bit older now and we just didn’t want to take any risks with him – he’s been such a good horse.

“He’s going to enjoy a nice retirement. I think he’s going to go back to Kia Ora Stud in Australia, where he was bred, and he’s going to spend his retirement there.”

Richard Gibson trained Wellington, once acclaimed as Hong Kong Champion Sprinter, until the end of last season when the All Too Hard gelding transferred to Richards’ stable following Gibson’s retirement as a Hong Kong trainer.

Caspar Fownes-trained Packing Hurricane foiled the hopes of several BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) aspirants with success in the Class 3 TVB Miss Hong Kong Pageant Handicap (1800m) under Harry Bentley after David Hayes successfully debuted Chateauneuf, a Fastnet Rock three-year-old, in the Class 4 TVB Tung Wah Celebrity Show Handicap (1200m). Given trouble-free passage by Purton, the three-year-old’s performance impressed Hayes.

“He did a good job from the wide gate (barrier 10). He got a bit tired late, but he’ll improve a lot. He’s a very big horse and all his trials have been very easy,” Hayes said.

Jerry Chau made a triumphant return to race riding after missing Thursday’s (15 February) Happy Valley meeting because of illness by notching a double in tandem with Benno Yung. The pair struck first with Only U in the Class 4 TVB Yan Oi Tong Charity Show Handicap (1400m) before James Tak landed the Class 4 TVB Yan Chai Charity Show Handicap (1200m).

“It’s been a tough week for me,” Chau said. “I had a cold and a high temperature but the Club provide good treatment and good medicine and I was able to come back and perform,” Chau said. “I feel well now.”

Frankie Lor-trained Victory Moments claimed a PP Bonus of HK$1.5 million for his strong win in the Class 3 TVB Pok Oi Charity Show Handicap (1200m, dirt) for Matthew Chadwick after Pierre Ng-trained Starship Eighty continued a productive campaign with his third victory of the season with success under a superb Teetan ride in the Class 5 TVB Charity Fund Handicap (1800m).

Adefill confirmed his affinity with Sha Tin’s alternate surface by winning the Class 3 TVB Midlife, Sing & Shine Handicap (1650m, dirt) for Ricky Yiu and Antoine Hamelin. By Deep Field, Adefill improved his record on the dirt circuit to five wins and five placings from 12 starts.

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (21 February) with the DBS x Manulife Million Challenge Finale.

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