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Kong Fu Panda lands Chairman’s Trophy

March 19, 2024 at 4:36:00 AM

After disappointing in several big races last year, Kong Fu Panda finally landed a trophy when he took out the RM80,000 Chairman’s Trophy at Sungai Besi here today.

The son of Showcasing rose into prominence in 2022 with five victories, four of them in consecutive races, before running second to BLACK THORN in the Selangor Gold Cup (1600m) that year.

Kong Fu Panda was placed six times last year but his best showing in the big races was a fourth-place finish, again in the Selangor Gold Cup won by PASIR PINJI.

KONG FU PANDA had his seasonal debut on this track last month, finishing fifth to MILITARY FLAG over 1200m.

Unbeaten in his last three outings, MILITARY FLAG started favourite in today's contest restricted to five-year-olds and below.

But KONG FU PANDA was finally able to show what he is capable of this time.

Draw barrier 1, the five-year-old jumped best but there was a keen tussle for the lead and jockey Mohd Rizuan Shafiq decided to ease him back to settle in midfield.

HEARTS OF FIRE was the early leader but he was headed by PACIFIC EMPIRE at the 800m and the latter led into the straight with the rest of the field in a tight bunch behind him.

KONG FU PANDA, racing wide in the home stretch, tackled PACIFIC EMPIRE approaching the 200m and hit the front 100m out. VILLAGE WARRIOR then threw out a challenge but KONG FU PANDA held on well to win by half a length. MILITARY FLAG, after running well off the pace early, was third.

"The pace was too fast early so I decided to bid my time behind the front runners," said Shafiq. "Making the turn into the straight, they were slowing down in front so I had no choice but to switch out wide for my run. In the straight my horse gave plenty."

"KONG FU PANDA trialled well on Tuesday and carried that form to win today," said trainer Tiang Kim Choi.

"He raced well last year without winning but turned the corner today, aided by a good ride from Shafiq."

Bought by Tiang for NZ$38,000 at the Ready To Run sale, the New Zealand gelding has won eight races and placed nine times in 28 starts.

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