02/15/2017 1:16PM

Hong Kong: Sea Jade keeps rolling with dead-heat win in Happy Valley Trophy

Hong Kong Jockey Club
Sea Jade (left) and Blocker Dee (No. 8) dead-heat in the Happy Valley Handicap on Thursday.

The improving 3-year-old Sea Jade won his fifth start of the Hong Kong season on Thursday night at Happy Valley, dead-heating for the victory in the Happy Valley Trophy Handicap.

Sea Jade took the lead in upper stretch of the Happy Valley Trophy Handicap and held it to the very last jump, when a final surge from Blocker Dee produced a dead heat. The winning pair had a half-length on Lucky Year and Archippus in the 1,200-meter Class 1 handicap.

Trained by John Moore and ridden by Joao Moreira, Sea Jade, an Australian-bred gelding by Witness Star, began the season in Class 4 handicaps with a rating of just 51, but has risen steadily through the ranks and could eventually end up a group stakes horse. The early leader in his two previous races, Sea Jade on Thursday tracked pace-setting Molly’s Jade Star before taking over with just less than 400 meters to run. He had a clear lead a furlong from home but was all out to hold on for a tie.

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Blocker Dee rallied from fifth in a modestly paced raced, with Taris Keetan riding for trainer Caspar Fownes. A 5-year-old Australian-bred gelding by Hidden Dragon, Blocker Dee won twice at Happy Valley last fall but had subsequently finished no better than fourth in four races before coming back to his best Thursday.

The margin of victory in the card’s other Class 1 Handicap, the Shan Kwong, was just a head as Packing Dragon, getting a trip similar to Sea Jade’s, just managed to hold clear onrushing Circuit Land.

Super Lifeline towed Packing Dragon and jockey Chad Schofield along for about half of the 1,650-meter Shan Kwong, and like Sea Jade in the Happy Valley Trophy, Packing Dragon took the lead with about 400 meters left to race. Super Lifeline fought hard, and Packing Dragon could never really shake him while staying on just well enough to lead a tightly bunched pack across the winning line.

Packing Dragon, a 5-year-old New Zealand-bred gelding by Mastercraftsman, has improved considerably though this season for trainer Ricky Yiu. Packing Dragon was rated just 70 when he made his first start of the season in September, and his mark of 90 coming into Thursday’s card is likely to rise again after his third win of the season.