Hong Kong Diary

Budding stars took centre stage at Sha Tin on Sunday, while the Hong Kong Derby form comes under the spotlight on Wednesday. Another colourful midweek card is assured at Happy Valley and Sky Sports Racing will have all the action from 12.15 onwards.

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AETHERO EARNS RAVE REVIEWS

A drizzly Sunday at Sha Tin was all about potential stars, with John Moore comparing the strapping Aethero to the mighty Able Friend after an impressive debut in the opener and John Size talking about Champion’s Way making it five out of five in the Class 2 finale to earn glowing praise from John Size.

Aethero tipped the scales at 1240lb for his first public test. That’s a big unit by any standards – let alone for a two-year-old – but he arrived with a reputation to match and went a long way to justifying it with a dominant win against fellow newcomers.

The final time was a few ticks slower than for a later Class 4 over the same 1000m but Aethero could have run much faster had Zac Purton let him loose and Moore didn’t hold back afterwards.

“He’s the perfect two-year-old that anybody could wish for,” he said. “Able Friend was a little bit bigger but this fellow had all the resemblance of him and, wow, he just might be another one.”

CHAMPION’S CONTINUES ON HIS MERRY WAY

Size seldom gets within a dozen lengths of Moore in the purple prose stakes so it was notable to hear his praise for the way Champion’s Way dug deep before forging clear of useful rivals on his 1400m debut.

“Only Group horses do it,” was Size’s instant reaction to the way his three-year-old took command from a rating of 90 in the final 100m.

A further hike of 9lb means Champion’s Way has improved his mark from an opening 52 to 99 in the space of a little over ten weeks.

He’s still eligible to contest another Class 2 handicap - and Size seems minded to head in that direction for now – but its’ clear the champion trainer feels there is even more to come from one of the most progressive young horses around.

PURTON DREAMING BIG FOR CHAMPIONS DAY

Aethero’s success completed Purton’s century and, with a third HK title virtually assured, his spring targets lie in differing directions.

Last year‘s personal best of 136 looks well within reach with 25 meetings to go, while another 44 wins will see him become just the second HK rider (after Douglas Whyte) to reach 1000.

Shorter term, Purton has one banker (Beauty Generation) and two other strong chances Mr Stunning and Exultant) locked in for the three G1 contests on FWD Champions Day a week on Sunday.

“I was lucky enough to win two of the three G1’s on this day last year so I’m hoping for some decent barrier draws and racing luck again this time around,” he said.

“It would be nice to win one of the big ones. It would be great to win two. But you have to aim as high as you can. Winning all three is a dream – but it isn’t an impossible dream.”

CIRCUIT COULD BE BOUND FOR GLORY IN VALLEY FEATURE

HK Derby winner Furore trialled well ahead of his QEII CUP date on Tuesday and his classic form will come under the spotlight at Happy Valley on Wednesday in the featured King’s Park Handicap at 3.15.

Ka Ying Star disappointed when fading into tenth in the Derby but has won a Valley trial since, while former Racing Post Trophy winner Rivet has proved very frustrating in Hong Kong but now has Purton aboard for the first time after trialling well at the HKJC’s Conghua base.

Furore

Both will attract support, but perhaps the most interesting horse of all is Ka Ying Star’s stablemate Circuit Glory.

This gelding paid the price for setting demanding fractions over 1800m here on his latest start but his previous course and distance success represents very strong form and he can go very well again from the front if Karis Teetan gets him into a smoother rhythm in front this time.

Hong Kong Diary
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