Mr Stunning confirms high standing with Premier Bowl victory
Mr Stunning lived up to jockey Nash Rawiller’s expectations in Sunday's G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m) at Sha Tin, with an exciting victory that puts him squarely at the head of Hong Kong’s speed cohort.
John Size’s charge went into the contest having evidently taken benefit from a first-up sixth in the G3 National Day Cup Handicap (1000m) on 1 October; the five-year-old strode through an impressive barrier trial nine days ago, finishing under a hold alongside stablemate Thewizardofoz, his equal as the highest-rated horses currently racing in Hong Kong.
“I couldn’t have been more confident going into a nice race,” Rawiller said after driving the top-weight (133lb) to a half-length success. “A lot could go wrong, he had a big weight, but I felt I was on something that was going to be damn tough to beat!”
Despite that confidence and the gelding’s lofty standing, Mr Stunning broke from gate six as a 9.1 shot, with last season’s G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) hero Lucky Bubbles (132lb) the 2.5 favourite. Thewizardofoz (133lb) was the 2/1 second-pick under Joao Moreira.
Mr Stunning made a mockery of those odds. With Fabulous One setting a sound tempo on the lead, Rawiller camped the Exceed And Excel gelding behind mid-rank, travelling sweetly on Lucky Bubbles’ outside flank. And when the Australian ace shifted his mount to centre-track upon straightening, the response was strong.
Mr Stunning hit the front inside the final 150m and held the late dash of the game Lucky Bubbles in a reversal of Chairman’s Sprint Prize placings.
The John Size-trained Mr Stunning (No. 1), ridden by Nash Rawiller, storms home to take the G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m), picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
“He’s an exceptional horse,” Rawiller said of last season’s G2 Sprint Cup (1200m) winner. “This was the first time I’d been lucky enough to ride him in a race but he put me in a beautiful spot and travelled sweetly. It was an amazing turn-of-foot, especially with that weight.”
The winning time was inside standard at 1m 08.10s, with Mr Stunning sprinting through the final 400m in 21.95s.
Lucky Bubbles took a rail-route home under Zac Purton. The first two could well lock horns again in next month’s G2 BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) before going on to 10 December’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).
“It was his first start this season and he ran well – he dashed home nicely,” Purton said of Francis Lui’s stable star.
The Size-trained Amazing Kids (129lb) charged past the post a further half-length third. The six-year-old’s final split was a race quickest 21.76s.
“He ran a blinder,” jockey Brett Prebble said. “He’s very honest when he’s left alone; he has good speed, doesn’t touch the bridle and he can give you a nice kick. He’s always going to be a length or so off the best maybe, but you never know, he’s got enough about him that he might pop up and beat them one day.”
Thewizardofoz, so impressive when winning the G3 Premier Cup Handicap (1400m) at his latest start back in June, was ninth of 11.
In the afternoon’s other feature, the G2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy (Handicap), Derek Leung drove Beauty Generation (118lb) to a head success over his John Moore-trained stablemate Booming Delight (113lb).
Hong Kong racing resumes at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 25 October.