Westbury Stud was a major player on the opening day of the 2022-23 Hong Kong racing season with a winning home-bred double at Sha Tin.
This Is Charisma was the first cab off the rank on Sunday when the David Hall-trained struck in the first event over 1600 metres in the hands of Zac Purton.
Later in the evening, his winning lead was followed by Ricky Yui’s Good Luck Friend who posted the sixth victory of his career when driven to success by Vagner Borges over 1400 metres with another Westbury product in Packing Victory finishing third.
This Is Charisma was purchased out of the Karaka farm’s New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling Sale draft for $105,000 by Waikato Bloodstock and Kangyu International Bloodstock.
A son of Smart Missile, he out of the Encosta De Lago mare Sunsari who has an unraced Tarzino two-year-old filly and is due to foal to El Roca.
Yui secured Good Luck Friend at NZB’s Ready to Run Sale at Karaka for $90,000 and is out of the Postponed mare Maravilla, who is due to foal again to Swiss Ace.
She hails from the family of the multiple Group 1 winner and sire Naturalism and the dual Group 2 winner Palacio De Cristal.
Meanwhile in Australia, gifted mare Pink Ivory looks set for a lucrative spring campaign following her stylish second-up success over 1800 metres at Rosehill.
Trained by John Sargent for stud principal and breeder Gerry Harvey, the daughter of Redwood settled at the tail-end of the field before launching a thunderous charge to victory in the straight under William Pike.
“I was halfway up the straight and thought she had run third so I was delighted when I heard the commentator yell out that she had won,” Sargent said.
“She comes up pretty quickly and won second-up last time. I thought the ride here was very good, he weaved through them instead of going around then all, and that saved a lot of ground and got her up in the finish.”
Pink Ivory had a couple of cracks at Group 1 company last season and finished a meritorious fifth in the Vinery Stud Stakes before the occasion got the better of her when unplaced in the Australian Oaks.
“She might be a 2000 to 2200 metre horse, the Oaks was probably a bit far and didn’t handle the day very well and got a bit on the toe,” Sargent said.
“She is a lot more relaxed now, mentally and physically she has improved, and I think she will only continue to get better with more time.”
Pink Ivory is a daughter of Redoute’s Choice’s dual Group 1 winner Lotteria, who is due to foal to So You Think this season, and it is the immediate family of recent winner Marroni.
On the domestic front, Sharp ‘N’ Smart took a winning step toward a crack at Australia’s spring riches with a straight-forward first-up victory at Ruakaka.
The son of Redwood was sent out a short-priced favourite in his three-year-old return over 1400 metres and duly obliged. While he didn’t put a space on his rivals, it was more than satisfactory from co-trainer Graeme Rogerson’s point of view.
“He did enough and doesn’t exert himself and he’s not the sort to run away from other horses,” he said.
“It was a nice win and he found a bit so I was happy, he got a pass mark and he pulled up well. He didn’t have a hard run.”
Rogerson is still undecided about the main Australian goal for Sharp ‘N’ Smart, who is part-owned by breeder Harvey, with the weather to have a say and is happy to have so many attractive options on the table.
“He’s booked to go to Sydney the week before the G3 Gloaming Stakes, if the track was really heavy then I’ve also got him pencilled in to go to Melbourne,” he said.
“It’s a good position to be in, if he does go to Sydney then he’ll run in the Gloaming and the G1 Spring Champion Stakes. The hardest decision then would be if we travel him to Melbourne the following Monday for the G1 VRC Derby.
“He’s got a nomination for the G1 Cox Plate, but that’s the same day as the Spring Champion so I can always change my mind after the Gloaming as to what we do.”
El Roca was also fittingly on the scoresheet at Westbury’s Tarzino Trophy day at Hastings where his son Old Town Road collected his fourth win from 15 starts.
Prepared by Lisa Latta, the genuine five-year-old overcame a wide run to strike over 1200 metres in his first appearance in three months.
“He’s a good horse with a fair bit of attitude and coming back to 1200 metres on a heavy track suited him,” Latta said.