Bentley thriving in Far East, partners Healthy Happy in Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup

Declan Schuster

08/02/2022 15:47

Harry Bentley has 13 wins this season.
Harry Bentley has 13 wins this season.

Gearing up to ride Healthy Happy in Sunday week’s (20 February) HK$12 million G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m), Harry Bentley is first looking to maintain the momentum of his mid-season surge when he engages a solid book of eight rides at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (9 February). 

“I’m really, really happy with how things are going, the last two months have been a lot better for me – things have really picked up,” Bentley said.

With seven wins from the last 12 race meetings, Bentley is prospering in the challenging cauldron of Hong Kong racing – success that has been rewarded with the ride on Healthy Happy in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup – the world’s richest race on turf over 1400m.  

“I’ve built up a nice little association with Frankie Lor who has given me a good bit of support and things have definitely picked up – I’m happy in the position that I am in at the moment,” Bentley said.

This season, Bentley has 13 wins in total and five in tandem with Lor – figures he is equally eager to build on.

“I’m quite happy to pick him up (the ride on Healthy Happy), in this grade it’s extremely competitive but he goes there with a reasonable chance,” Bentley said.

Healthy Happy is a four-time winner in Hong Kong from 11 starts – twice over 1400m.

Healthy Happy wins the 2022 G3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup (1400m).
Healthy Happy wins the 2022 G3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup (1400m).

Prior to Hong Kong, Bentley was well versed with experience abroad having ridden in France, Germany, Canada, the United States of America and notably the United Arab Emirates where he rose to prominence sealing numerous titles in Qatar.

“I think it’s a culmination of things to be honest, you have to put in the work in the mornings and show your face but you’ve also got to be on the ball with asking for rides and it’s a matter of sometimes if you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

“When your confidence is up, I think naturally you ride that little bit better, so it’s a combination of a few things – I go through the races after the meeting, the next day and from there pick out what I would like to hop on,” Bentley said.

Contracted through till the end of the 2021/22 season, Bentley boasts two Group 1 wins prior to his arrival – both times on crack sprinter Limato.

“Even though I’m almost approaching a year here, I still feel like I’m learning the ropes,” the Englishman said.

Looking to the midweek fixture at Happy Valley, Bentley hops aboard Ice Legend for Benno Yung – bidding for back-to-back wins in the first section of the Class 4 Penfold Park Handicap (1200m).

Ice Legend gets off the mark in Hong Kong.

“I was very pleased with his victory last time out, the pace was quick and he finished very strongly,” Bentley said. “Just this time we’ve drawn wide, but that’s just the way things go, so we’ll deal with that, but I’ll be hoping for a strong pace – he’s a strong finisher over 1200 metres.”

Ice Legend – a son of Whittington – is a one-time winner from six starts in Hong Kong.

Later on the card – in the finale – Bentley hops aboard Invincible Missile for trainer Caspar Fownes in the Class 3 Victoria Park Handicap (1650m) – optimistic a stint away at Conghua has done wonders for the 71-rater.

“He really does suit the Valley – James McDonald won on him there and he had a little break between runs, so when I rode him last start he felt like a fresh horse and I think having that freshen up at Conghua really helped him,” Bentley said.

Invincible Missile steps away from gate 10 against 11 others.

“He’s a horse who comes from off the pace – he ran a mighty race last time but with the pace it was very slow and he had to make up ground which wasn’t easy, but he still managed to finish third, so it was a very credible run,” Bentley said.

Bentley also rides Sky Gem, Noble Man, Tailor Made, Wins All, Diamond Brilliant and Lucky Archangel.

Stoltz returns to the Valley

Stoltz scores under Zac Purton in record time.
Stoltz scores under Zac Purton in record time.

Fresh off his win over 1000m at Happy Valley in course record time last month, Stoltz will return to the fray in tomorrow night’s (Wednesday, 9 February) Class 3 Hong Kong Park Handicap (1000m) – looking to replicate or better yet enhance those heroics for trainer Francis Lui and jockey Zac Purton.   

“He’s still very fit, he’s in-form – I hope he can keep going, he’s done well,” Lui said.

Stepping away from gate four, Stoltz (133lb) faces six opponents including Special M (128lb) and Like That (116lb) – rivals he conquered from the front last time out.

“I was a little bit surprised, maybe the gear (changes) helped him that day,” Lui of the 79-rater’s 55.85s win last month. 

Later on the card, Purton hops aboard Party Warrior – also for Lui – in the Class 3 Kowloon Park Handicap (1200m).

“He’s a nice horse but he might just need a little bit more time to get used to it all,” Lui said.

Wednesday’s (9 February) nine-race fixture at Happy Valley kicks off at 6.45pm with the Class 3 Hong Kong Park Handicap (1000m).

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