Sha Tin turned on a sparking morning on Monday with settled early winter weather leading into Sunday’s LONGINES Hong Kong International Races. The weather naturally lead to discussions with Nash Rawiller over the appropriately named Mr Stunning, a leading contender for the HK$18.5m Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).
John Size’s five-year-old Exceed And Excel gelding goes into the Sprint in, literally, stunning form and consequently as the highest rated runner of the field at 121. Rawiller has combined with Mr Stunning for two of his three starts this season resulting in wins in the Group 2 Premier Bowl over 1200m on October 22nd and the Group 2 BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Sprint over 1200m on November 19th.
Mr Stunning was second to Lucky Bubbles in the Group 1 Chairman’s Spring Prize over 1200m on May 7th, but was then not able to reproduce that form before the Premier Bowl. However, Size has the gelding in cruise control now for the year-end finale’s grand prize.
Rawiller as well has worked to come back to form after his bad fall last April that dislocated his right shoulder with fractures elsewhere and the two look to be formidable opposition on Sunday.
“I did everything properly and gave myself time to recover. What I did find hard was getting my fitness level back, it took a long time, but I did the right thing and came back to work early pre-season and gave myself a good six weeks to get rock hard fit,” he explained.
“There is nothing like race riding to get that extra edge. By the time I got back it was a matter of getting that timing back, and that seems to have come now so I am really happy.”
Rawiller’s two from two wins on Mr Stunning, previously ridden by Joao Moreira, seems to be a pairing made for this moment. Both are fit and ready to stamp their class.
Nash Rawiller enjoys the latest victory on Mr Stunning, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
“I think it is fair to say that he is a horse that tries his best and he does not leave a lot left in the tank himself. But I have felt that in his last two wins that I have had something there if someone had wanted to come at him and make a race of it. So I have a lot of confidence going into the weekend,” said Rawiller.
“Hopefully he will be the same again and he has something there for us. In his past two runs one was solidly run and the other was very stop start, which he adapted to brilliantly.
“He was able to run his normal sectional where as everyone else had pulled up at the trot. He put himself into the race and coming past the 300m at his last start I had a lapful of horse and he had the race in his keep.
“It is Hong Kong and anything can happen, but he is a the sort of horse that if you are held up at the furlong (200m), or inside the furlong, he has got the turn of foot to get himself out of trouble.
“He has put the writing on the wall right throughout his career really and he ran second in the Group 1 last season and probably a tad unlucky and this is his race, the one he has been aimed at. Touch wood it all works out,” he said.
Rawiller, 43, is fourth on the jockey premiership with 18 winners behind Moreira’s 36, Zac Purton’s 32 and Karis Teetan’s 23. Victory for Rawiller in the international Group 1 would be his first at the meeting in Hong Kong since arriving in September 2014, but certainly not his first overall with 50 Group 1’s already on his honour board.
Think Elvstroem, More Joyous, Pierro, famous names with the latter moving into a new phrase of his stallion career. The name Mr Stunning fits well.