TEMPERATURE RISES AS SIXTY GOES UP FOR THE CUP
History suggests that a potential star (or stars) will shine in the Hong Kong Classic Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday but key players have been getting their excuses in early ahead of the second leg of Hong Kong’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series.
Designs On Rome and a pair of Dragons – Ambitious and Rapper – used this £1m contest as a springboard to Hong Kong Derby glory in the last decade, while the list of luminaries who ran well in defeat includes Derby winners like Furore and Werther and multiple G1 heroes like Exultant, Able Friend and Beauty Generation.
The first four home in last month’s Classic Mile are all back in action but various factors are giving connections cause for concern ahead of the 9f feature.
Francis Lui’s Golden Sixty impressed in the Classic Mile, beating strong-finishing stablemate More Than This decisively, but he has missed recent work after spiking a temperature and rider Vincent Ho says, “I don’t think he’s at his top at the moment.”
“He’s an amazing horse, one of the best I’ve ridden, but unfortunately he has had an issue and is still in the process of recovering and getting his fitness back,” added Ho. “I hope to get him relaxed behind horses and then have a good turn of foot. I think the probable lack of early tempo should suit him.”
WIDE DRAW THE WORRY AS PURTON ASKS FOR MORE
Zac Purton takes over from Ryan Moore aboard former Richard Fahey galloper More Than This, who looks bound to be suited by the step up to 9f, but the spiky Aussie is concerned about being drawn widest in ten and reports that, “it doesn’t look like there’s much speed to take us along and when you draw wide in races with no speed it makes it very hard.”
Meanwhile, Champion Trainer John Size is confident that his Classic Mile third and fourth Champion’s Way and Beauty Legacy are ready to run to their best while wary of the fact that they were behind the Lui pair four weeks ago.
“I’m comfortable with both my horses but whether they can win is problematical as there are a couple of really smart horses in the race,” he said. “We don’t know who will emerge from the pack but, as far as my two are concerned in regard to performing to their best, I’m pretty sure they can do that.”
BABY HEADING FOR THE BIG TIME IF DUBAI INVITE COMES
Aethero would give Moore even more reason to travel with optimism if he heads for the Al Quoz Sprint on March 29th but Hong Kong could have an interesting outsider for the Golden Shaheen if the Meydan commissars extend an invite to bang-in-form sprinter Big Time Baby.
Next stop... the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen?
Big Time Baby makes a claim for a potential trip overseas with a classy victory in the finale. 💥 @DubaiWorldCup #HKracing pic.twitter.com/E5A8HashQK
— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 19, 2020
British fans will recall Big Time Baby winning York’s Roses Stakes for Tom Dascombe and Frankie Dettori back in 2016 but the Dandy Man gelding is now firmly established as one of Hong Kong’s most consistent sprinters and his emphatic success under Matthew Chadwick from a local mark of 103 in Wednesday’s Sha Tin finale represented a clear career best.
“The plan is Dubai, we’re still waiting for an invitation,” said winning trainer Manfred Man as he celebrated a victory which leaves him just one short of 500 local winners. “Nothing has changed with him. It’s just that he’s a European horse and they will mature when they are five years old.”
VICTOR BOUNCES BACK AS DYLAN STRIKES OUT
Two of Hong Kong’s younger homegrown riders have been in the news for contrasting reasons this week, with Victor Wong looking forward to a long-awaited comeback and Dylan Mo riding a winner on Wednesday night only to be hit with an eight-meeting ban the following morning.
Wong finished sixth in last season’s championship despite missing the last seven weeks of the season due to a heavy trackwork fall and told the South China Post’s Sam Agars of his relief at being back in the saddle.
“When I got out of hospital, I didn’t think I could ride again,” he said. “I just felt like if I could get back to having a normal day, I would be happy enough.”
Wong’s normal day on Sunday will consist of two rides early on the card, while Mo has six mounts but faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines (March 18th to April 13th) after being banned for failing to take all permissible measures to achieve the best possible placing aboard the unplaced Racing Fighter in the Sha Tin finale last Sunday.