Zoustar’s Healthy Happy Wins HK Classic Cup
Progressive Zoustar gelding Healthy Happy, who raced previously in Australia as Leviathan, scored an exciting win on Sunday at Sha Tin in the HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) beating Atlantic Jewel’s son Russian Emperor (IRE) and Australian two time Group I winner Shadow Hero.
Healthy Happy underlined BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) claims with a dramatic victory for jockey Alexis Badel and trainer Frankie Lor .
Uniting with the former Australian galloper for the first time, Badel dictated tactics from the front to deliver Healthy Happy by a neck from Russian Emperor with Shadow Hero a further nose away in third.
The Frenchman’s daring tactics, crowned by a pedestrian section between the 1200m and 800m in just 24.46s, delighted Lor.
“I think the horse had a chance but I wasn’t sure he could win because it was the first time at 1800m,” Lor said.
“But I think the jockey is really smart, he didn’t go that fast, so I can say I ‘steal’ the race.”
Happy Healthy raced in Australia as Leviathan for Peter and Paul Snowden winning twice at Randwick over 1100 and 1400m and, until Sunday, had not been tried beyond 1600m.
Badel detected from the pre-race preliminary he was on the perfect horse to be daring – assuming nobody else wanted to lead.
“It’s not very easy but I had the horse for this tactic to lead and going into the gate, the horse was so relaxed. I was very happy if no-one wanted to lead, I was very happy to do so and this just happened like a dream,” he said.
“The horse is very talented from the front. He’s a very good horse, he’s got great abilities. I am very grateful to get the ride on him.
“He’s such a big horse, he’s got a very big action and a very good attitude, I wanted to give him a comfortable race with a lot of space and hopefully keep the momentum.
“I was just happy to let my horse go because he’s obviously a very big horse and I knew he was going to stay on well. He was also very relaxed in front.
“It allowed him to take a very big breath before the effort and then he kept on well.”
Both Lor and Badel expect the 2000m of the BMW Hong Kong Derby on 21 March won’t be an issue for the Zoustar gelding.
Douglas Whyte was elated with the performance of Russian Emperor, a son of Galileo and champion Australian mare Atlantic Jewel.
“I always said the Derby would be his day. The blinkers have certainly got his mind switched on,” Whyte said.
“The winner had it all his way, the third sectional was 24.46s and even though he still showed greenness, we’re on track.”
David Hayes was similarly encouraged by the effort of Shadow Hero, who produced his best Hong Kong performance since leaving Australia, where he won two G1s.
“Very happy with that,” Hayes said.
Happy Healthy was a $375,000 Magic Millions purchase for James Harron Bloodstock from the draft of Woodside Park and has the overall record of five wins and three placings from 10 starts.
Bred by Lachlan River Bloodstock, Healthy Happy is the first foal from Group III placed Lonhro mare Lady Lakshmi, a half-sister to stakes-winner Celebrity Girl (the dam of Group II winner Instant Celebrity) and stakes-placed Albaicin (dam of Group III winner Generalife).
Happy Healthy is the 18th stakes-winner for Widden Stud’s champion sire Zoustar.