Group 1 Glory: Panfield salutes in Champions & Chater Cup
A perfect ride aboard Tony Millard-trained Panfield delivered Karis Teetan G1 success in the Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday – and also immeasurable personal solace.
Grieving the death of close friend Nooresh Juglall in a race fall in Mauritius on May 15, Teetan dedicated the victory to his wife Xaviere after Millard’s brilliant training effort lifted some of the ‘Mauritian Magician’s’ gloom.
“I’m really glad I got this one home. It’s been a tough week. I needed this (race) to get me back to work, to the track and I want to dedicate this to my wife (Xaviere). She’s been by my side this past few weeks and she’s given me confidence every day,” he said.
“If I did not have my wife by my side, I might not have been here at the moment and she was there and kept on pushing me and gave me confidence.
“I had this horrible news last week where we lose one of my best friends and my brother in racing and I take this pretty hard. This win makes it a little bit better, but we still miss Nooresh.
“It’s been a long time since I got one of these big ones, but this feels good. You need to just keep working hard and it will come.”
Teetan tracked Exultant and Zac Purton relentlessly behind pace-setter Time Warp before mounting his challenge in the straight, clawing his way past the five-time Hong Kong Group 1 winner before withstanding a late challenge from Joao Moreira and Columbus County.
Half a length separated Panfield and Columbus County, with Exultant a length and a quarter further back.
“At the 700 (metre mark), I knew this horse would go right through the line because he literally dropped down a gear and started to motor home,” Teetan said.
“(But) you know when Joao comes next to you in a race, you know you’ve got a hard battle. In those big ones, he’s come next to me a few times and he’s got the better of me and I was like ‘C’mon Joao, not today’ and it pays off.”
Dual Derby-winning handler Millard posted his first G1 triumph in Hong Kong since Ambitious Dragon’s 2013 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup said Panfield – winner of three G1s in Chile before arriving in Hong Kong – had received a “proper Millard preparation” leading into the race.
“We did a good 1800 metre workout and if any of you saw it, it was unbelievable. He broke 60 seconds for 1000 (metres) and he came home (the last 400m) in 21.8 and Karis was hanging onto him,” Millard said.
“I said to Karis after that, ‘I don’t care how good they are, he’s ready’.
“Quite clearly, a lot of the older horses are finished now so that puts him at the top spot as the best staying horse in Hong Kong.
“Karis rode a beautiful race today, that’s exactly how we planned it and it worked out to an absolute tee. I’m very happy for him because it gives him the confidence to know that if he is on the right horse that he can do it. Quite clearly this horse was the right horse today and he did everything 100 per cent.”
In addition to the HK$6.8 million in prizemoney, Panfield collected a Top-Up Bonus of HK$500,000 – a payment available to horses who have already won a High Achievement Bonus of HK$1 million after winning a Class 2 race or higher before turning five.
Blake Shinn notched his first Hong Kong double since arriving in the city in 2019.
“It’s fair to say it’s been a little while in the making. It’s taken a bit longer than I would have liked. It’s just nice to get two winners in a day – it’s satisfying,” the Melbourne Cup-winning jockey said after piloting Caspar Fownes-trained Hall Of Champ to victory in the first section of the Class 3 Indigenous Handicap (1400m).
“It’s also great to get winners for David Hayes and Caspar Fownes. They’ve given me plenty of support in Hong Kong, so it’s nice to win for both of those guys.”
Shinn marked his return from suspension with victory aboard David Hayes-trained Donc Je Suis in the Class 4 Viva Pataca Handicap (2000m) before Frankie Lor’s Free Foal broke through for his first Hong Kong win in the Class 4 Blazing Speed Handicap (1600m) under Matthew Chadwick.
After waiting 23 starts to break through, The Hulk made it two on the bounce for Fownes and Teetan in the second section of the Class 3 Vengeance Of Rain Handicap (1400m).
Joao Moreira extended his lead in the jockey’s championship with a treble, climbing to 131 wins – 20 ahead of Zac Purton (111).
Chad Schofield joined Shinn and Teetan as jockeys to savour doubles, while John Size and Fownes shared training honours with a treble apiece, leaving the trainers’ title delicately poised with Size leading Fownes 65 to 62.
Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday (26 May).
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