Size four-handed in quest for first LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint win
Hong Kong’s reigning champion trainer John Size will add another footnote to his illustrious career in Sunday’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m), with the trainer saddling up four runners in the HK$18m feature.
Only one other trainer in HKIR history has sent out four runners in a single feature before, with John Moore represented by four runners in both the Cup and the Sprint in 2012.
“There’s nowhere else to run so they are in Sunday’s race,” a typically understated Size said at Sha Tin this week. “They seem normal, their health and fitness status hasn’t changed much in the last month. I am pretty happy with all of them going into the race Sunday, they seem fine.”
The Size quartet is headlined by Hong Kong’s highest-rated horse Mr Stunning. He has justified his position atop the 1260-strong horse population with a pair of wins over Sunday’s course and distance this season; he took the G2 Premier Bowl Handicap in October, spotting all of his rivals weight, while last time out in the G2 Jockey Club Sprint, he accelerated strongly under set weights to stamp himself as the horse to beat in the Hong Kong Sprint.
“The horse has won a couple of races already. He seems to be in good form and he seems to have held that,” Size said. “He trialled nicely the other day so there haven’t been any concerns with him. As long as he gets luck in running, he’s going to run well again.
“He’s the highest-rated horse and he’s performed that way his last two starts. On ratings and the way you look at the race on paper, you’d think he’d be the formidable horse.”
Mr Stunning and Nash Rawiller winning the G2 Jockey Club Sprint in style last start, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Hong Kong has a long tradition of producing smart sprinters, many with their names etched onto the honour roll of the Sprint: Silent Witness and Sacred Kingdom, both two-time winners, feature prominently. However, Size says that on domestic ratings, Mr Stunning is of that calibre.
“Mr Stunning, on his rating at the moment, it’s pretty high for a Hong Kong horse,” he said. “He is at 130, which is not far from where Silent Witness (132) and Sacred Kingdom (131) peaked, so he’s shown that he has the figures to win an international race. There’s no reason to doubt them, I don’t think.”
Nash Rawiller, who has partnered Mr Stunning in his two wins this term, reunites with the Exceed And Excel five-year-old once again.
Few horses have proven as great a test of Size’s training ability as the enigmatic Thewizardofoz. Brilliant when stretched out again to 1400m at the end of last season, he has been just fair in two starts back over 1200m, although the Australian handler believes it has been a case of fitness and race circumstances.
“Thewizardofoz has been a start behind my other three runners, he’s only had two starts whereas the rest of them have had three, so he’s still got improvement,” Size said. “He’s probably looking for a race with pressure and he might appreciate it if there’s a true speed on. I haven’t had a close enough look at the race yet to know if that is likely.
“Last start, they slowed up and he was never comfortable. He will get back again but if the tempo is genuine, or at least steady, he will be running on.”
Three-time Hong Kong champion jockey Joao Moreira retains the mount on Thewizardofoz.
Size also sends out last year’s fourth Amazing Kids, a two-time G3 winner over the straight 1000m, and emerging talent D B Pin. They filled the placings behind Mr Stunning in the Jockey Club Sprint last start and will be ridden by Brett Prebble and Olivier Doleuze respectively.
“Amazing Kids has been well-tried, he’s had plenty of opportunities but I think he’s needed each of his runs to get him to where he needs to be to prove competitive,” he said. “He can charge into the race late.
“D B Pin has an awkward draw but he has got good speed, so he can go forward and slot in behind the leaders. He improved again last start, so he’s still heading the right way. I don’t think he’s done his best yet, there might be a little bit more to come.
“There really isn’t much between all four of them – luck in running will play its part. I think all four of them have shown that if they get things their way, they are capable of winning this race.”
The nine-time champion trainer, who has only won one HKIR race – the 2013 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile with Glorious Days – also saddles up Western Express and Contentment in this year’s Mile.