As sure as eggs are eggs local horses appear feted to dominate the Hong Kong Sprint, with trainer John Size mob handed with four of the 12 starters, spearheaded by the ante-post favourite Hot King Prawn.
The Hong Kong sprinters rarely fail to deliver, just as Fairy King Prawn did in 1999.
But while Fairy King Prawn had the versatility to be able to step up to 1600 metres, the explosive front-runner Hot King Prawn is most unlikely to follow that trend. Indeed he is all about raw jungle power, and in an unbeaten sequence of three straight wins he has simply blown the opposition away.
Size said: “I think he is getting better, and normally in Hong Kong they become stronger as four-year-olds, as he has done.
“What’s pleased me is that with every race he’s had to progress and he’s done that, winning nine out of ten. It’s an impressive strike-rate and it wouldn’t surprise me if he continued to make further steps.”
Hot King Prawn is surpassed only by Mile-bound Beauty Generation as the poster horse in the old colony this year, with his improvement mirrored by a ratings rise from 68 to 126 in the space of seven starts.
“He has picked his way through his races over the last couple of years. He was lightly raced as a three-year-old and with every question asked of him he has answered,” said Size.
Hot King Prawn has to overcome a potentially hazardous draw with only one rival outside him. Better placed in the gate are Size’s other three contenders, Group One winners D B Pin, Ivictory and Beat The Clock.
D B Pin will most likely try to take a forward early position on the rail while Mr Stunning is closely handicapped with both Hot King Prawn and Beat The Clock.
Mr Stunning’s pilot Karis Teeton said: “He can ping the gates and get a few lengths on them, so it’s a good thing I’ve got Hot King Prawn on my outside. If he was drawn inside I would be worried.
“I am going to stay positive because I know I have the horse underneath me. I will not try to keep him out because it will only cost me.”
Chairman’s Sprint Prize winner Ivictory has been deserted by Hong Kong’s champion jockey Zac Purton for handicapper Little Giant, who will step into Group One company from Class One.
Purton said: “I think the sprinters in Hong Kong are very even at the moment and I was happy to take the chance on a horse that was unexposed.
“I thought Ivictory was running a little below par this season, it feels like he’s got a little bit of a hangover from how well he did last season.”