Faded Star moves on in bid to shine again
The bad boy of Hong Kong racing is on the move.
Pakistan Star, the viral sensation capable of downing tools or beating the best around depending on his mood, has left Tony Cruz and moved along the Sha Tin stable block to join Kiwi handler Paul O’Sullivan.
The Shamardal gelding ended last season on a roll, winning two G1 contests, but hasn’t shown anything like the same sparkle this term, failing to make the first three in all his six starts and dropping out tamely on the latest to finish a tame tenth of eleven behind stablemate Exultant in the Hong Kong Gold Cup.
Owner Kerm Din met with O’Sullivan to suggest the move last weekend, while Cruz is disappointed to lose the mercurial gelding but admits he feels “so much tension off me” now the pressure of training such a high-profile horse has been switched to his neighbour.
Whether O’Sullivan takes advantage of the HKJC’s impressive new Conghua facility for his new recruit remains to be seen.
The evidence suggests that Pakistan Star has become jaded in routine of Sha Tin, but a spell being turned out in far more relaxed surroundings 200km away in Mainland China might just relight his fire in time for the two spring G1s that came his way twelve months ago.
Purton on a roll as he partners O’Sullivan pair
O’Sullivan has booked champion jockey Zac Purton for a couple of fancied sprinters at Happy Valley this Wednesday and is hoping a spell at Conghua proves valuable for Oriental Elite’s reappearance in the 12.15.
The five-year-old hasn’t raced since winning at the Valley last July and O’Sullivan feels that “if it wasn’t for Conghua, he wouldn’t be there on Wednesday night.”
He added: “We have to bear in mind that he hasn’t run for a long time. He’s a horse I think will eventually end up in Class 3, he’s in Class 4 at the moment, so if he gets the right run from gate seven he should be pretty competitive.”
Purton, fresh from a six timer at Sha Tin on Sunday, also partners promising newcomer Band Of Brothers for O’Sullivan in the 1.45 but is concerned about stall 9 around a 1200m circuit with a notably short run to the first bend.
“Band Of Brothers is like a lot of O’Sullivan horses, he’s just big and raw, but he’s got a little bit of speed and a bit of ability,” he said.
“It’s an awkward gate but he’s definitely a horse that’s capable. He’s trialled at the Valley and seems to get around there well enough so I’m not overly worried about that, I’m just worried about where I’m going to be in the run.”
Waikuku’s weekend date on HK Derby trail
Time is running out for potential Hong Kong Derby hopefuls to stake their claim but this Sunday at Sha Tin promises to be very important for John Size’s main contenders.
Champion trainer Size is looking for his fourth Derby success and has entered his two main hopes for this year’s race – namely Waikuku and Enrichment – for a Class 2 handicap over 1800m which is referred to by some locals as the Collection Stakes.
Waikuku excites again as a serious BMW Hong Kong Derby candidate for Joao Moreira and John Size: impressive the way he battled against a talented older opponent after racing 3-wide the trip. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/nCDC933nzl
— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 17, 2019
A Royal Ascot winner for William Haggas in 2008, Collection surged to the top of the HK Derby market by winning Saturday’s Sha Tin contest a decade ago and promptly followed up at 1.4 in the Derby.
It’s asking plenty for Enrichment to do the same double given that he’s still rated 13lb behind the current leading Derby contenders.
However, former John Oxx galloper Waikuku is one of the most progressive horses on the HK circuit at present. His current mark of 100 puts him right in the Derby mix on ratings and another impressive success on his first attempt at 1800m this weekend could propel him right to the top of the Classic pecking order.