Playa Del Puente narrowly missed out in the Hong Kong Derby last time, but jockey Blake Shinn is hoping he can gain compensation in Sunday’s FWD QEII Cup at Sha Tin - live on Sky Sports Racing.
The four-year-old, who was a Listed winner at Dundalk in 2019 when trained by Michael Halford, defied his long odds to push favourite Golden Sixty all the way and be beaten just a neck last month.
While Shinn was disappointed to finish second, he felt it was a fine performance against one of Hong Kong’s top-rated runners.
He said: “It was a bittersweet feeling to run second beaten so narrowly – a neck – in what some would say is the biggest race in Hong Kong. We got beat by Golden Sixty and he’s the champion horse of his age group.
“I’m still proud of the horse’s achievement and proud of my achievement.”
Playa Del Puente will have another crack at a top-level prize this weekend in the 10-furlong QEII Cup with multiple Group One winners Exultant and Time Warp, as well as the 2019 Hong Kong Derby hero Furore, in opposition.
Shinn said: “I think he’s got a big race in him. Whether he can do it in this race against the seasoned horses, time will tell, but we’ll give it our best shot.
“Time Warp is the obvious leader, he’s one of three Tony Cruz runners in the field and there are only seven runners.
“Tactics in small fields always play a role and I’m mindful of that, especially given my horse and how I feel he needs to be ridden – he’s not a sit and sprint horse, he’s quite dour.
“His strengths are his staying ability, so the quicker they go, the better. It’s just a matter of when the barriers open assessing how quickly they go and how my horse is travelling according to the pace.”
More Than This, a former Richard Fahey inmate, finished third in the Hong Kong Derby but drops back in trip for Sunday’s FWD Champions Mile.
He will be reunited with jockey Karis Teetan after teaming up with Zac Purton on his two latest runs, with Teetan hoping a switch in distance can see the Dutch Art gelding return to the form that saw him complete a hat-trick back in December.
Teetan said: “I’m happy to be on him back over the mile – I’d always thought he’d be better over further but to be honest when he was winning those races, he was doing it the hard way.
I think going back to the mile, it seems to me that he’ll like that more
“I think going back to the mile, it seems to me that he’ll like that more, he likes that there’s more speed and he can be left alone and then have that 500-metre run. Maybe this is what he wants right now.
“I’ve won three races on him this season and I felt that the last time I won on him I tried to put him into the race and he didn’t feel good so I allowed him to drop out, be outside, and that’s when he let down.
“I think that’s what he likes – more speed in the race, where he can be left alone and then finish.”