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Charity Fun ready to roll for G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup test

April 30, 2021 at 12:08:31 PM

Charity Fun (113lb) has had a remarkable start to his budding Hong Kong career, and this Sunday (2 May) at Sha Tin, the War Command gelding will be put to the ultimate test as he lines up against 11 rivals in the G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap (2400m).

With three wins from his first five races, the four-year-old has already indicated a promising future as a quickly developing stayer. This weekend, he will be gambled up in grade as he tries to lay down a challenge that might merit a top-level tilt in next month's G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m), should connections steer him there.

The bay has won his last two races in a row under champion jockey Zac Purton, but Purton is unable to make the weight and therefore partners Columbus County (133lb), who lines up as the top graded horse in the field, 20 points ahead of Charity Fun, who slots in on a score of 92 at the other end of the handicap.

Charity Fun is trained by Danny Shum and will be ridden by Frenchman Alexis Badel from barrier two this Sunday, looking to lead the gelding to his fourth Hong Kong victory, having previously won over 1800m, 2000m, and 2200m at both Happy Valley and Sha Tin.

“The weight he'll be carrying is a big advantage over 2400 metres, but he's in fine shape, he seems very well, and he seems to be a very good horse – all looks ideal,” Badel said.

Charity Fun is one of six four-year-olds vying to become the 22nd winner in their age class to claim the HK$3.5 million prize. The others in the chase are Russian Emperor (124lb), Panfield (121lb), Delightful Laos (116lb), Savaquin (113lb), and Packing Waltham (113lb).

“He's very good, quick to ride, and a very quiet horse,” Badel said.

The staying test on Sunday comes exactly one week after Japan led a first four over the finish line in the G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) on FWD Champions Day (25 April).

Panfield's rider, Joao Moreira, commented on the Chilean-bred galloper at trackwork this morning (Friday, 30 April): "He means that when there is more area for him to clear, that it will be safer for him."

“His form overseas has seen him checked over longer distances than what he's raced over in Hong Kong so far, and he has performed, so I think the extra distance will serve him much better,” Moreira said.

The Queen Mother Memorial Cup, first raced in 1982, is one of only three mile-and-a-half races on the Hong Kong schedule, along with the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase and the forthcoming G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup on May 23.

Ho Ho Khan (120lb), the 2019 champion, and last year's victor, Chefano, are also on the line-up for the Queen Mother Memorial Cup (123lb).

Ho Ho Khan will be joined by Vincent Ho, and the pair will take off from gate four.

“This is the right distance, but it looks like it will be blue sky all weekend; I just hope there would be some rain for him; it will be cooler for him, but he still has ability,” Ho said.

Since winning this contest as a 96-rater two years ago, the 99-rater has yet to win a meet. Earlier this season, the bay finished six lengths behind Mogul in the Hong Kong Vase last December.

“His ranking has been very high, but it's difficult for him; he's a little horse, and even in Class 1 and Class 2, he still holds a heavy weight, so it's difficult for him.

“He is well in terms of health, Mr Hall has been teaching him well, he still tries, his form is good, but there aren't many races over this distance for him each season, so we'll try to make it count,” Ho said.

Butterfield (122lb), Helene Leadingstar (121lb), and Reliable Team are all competing (117lb).

Fantastic Treasure is one of two-time Hong Kong champion trainer David Hayes' best prospects, and the Australian-bred youngster will put his unblemished record on the line this Sunday (2 May) at Sha Tin in the Class 3 Inch Arran Handicap (1400m).

After narrowly stepping up to 1400m last start, the quick son of Written Tycoon will take on the seven furlongs again, except this time he will be faced with lugging top-weight as the race's highest graded contender.

“It's a big ask now for a young horse with top weight in Class 3, but he's a horse with a lot of class, a lot of skill, and while very few can do it, he's one that I think can,” jockey Chad Schofield said.

Schofield has teamed the 78-rater with each of his three victories and will be in the plate again this weekend when the duo takes the field from gate two against 12 competitors.

“I'm very pleased with the draw, we have a lovely fence, hopefully he can only repeat – it's really fun riding a horse of this calibre, hopefully he can keep winning,” the 27-year-old said.

The three-year-old PPG (Privately Purchased Griffin) is qualifying for next year's Four-Year-Old Classic Series, which Hayes has previously said is a likely long-term goal.

“He does (know when to turn it on), he's turning into a lovely racehorse, he's switching right off in races and then he's really attacking the line hard, even at his first run over 1400 metres the other day, he did his best job late and it was nice to see,” Schofield added.

Earlier in the day, Schofield and Hayes team up with Tronic Mighty, another promising three-year-old from the Australian yard making his Hong Kong debut in the Class 4 Manicou Handicap (1200m).

“I've galloped him a couple times, although I haven't rode him in his barrier trials, so he's a horse with a good movement, he's not too tall, but he moves very well, and he's got a lovely draw, so we're hoping he runs well,” Schofield said.

Schofield will also look to keep Dragon Baby's flawless record intact as he runs in the Class 4 Isle Of Man Handicap (1000m) after his impressive debut victory down the straight.

“He was impressive, he settled at the back of the field then as the race progressed, he came underneath me and he was very quick over the last little bit, he charged over the line so it was a really positive debut, he stays in the grade and hopefully he will do it again,” he added.

The Argonaut Plate (1000m) for the Griffins sets off the 11-race card on Sunday (2 May) at 12.30pm.

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