Trainer Chris So hopes that a change of scenery to the tight confines of Happy Valley might prove the key to reinvigorating talented galloper Racing Supernova, who tackles Wednesday night’s Class 2 Sweet Orange Handicap (1200m) at the city track.
Racing Supernova lands the Class 1 Panasonic Cup Handicap in style earlier this season, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Racing Supernova (133lb) began his season with a Class 2 score over the straight 1000m at Sha Tin in September before he added the Class 1 Panasonic Cup Handicap (1400m) in November. However, in six starts since, he has only hit the board once, which has forced So back to the drawing board with the Duporth gelding.
“He hasn’t really run a bad race this season but he has done a few things wrong or he has had things go against him and at his rating, in triple figures, that just can’t happen,” he said. “He might need to lose a few ratings points but I thought sending him to Happy Valley could also help him, just to get him away from Sha Tin.”
Brett Prebble will jump aboard Racing Supernova for the first time, with regular riders Joao Moreira (House Of Fun) and Zac Purton (Super Turbo) otherwise engaged.
“I wanted to put a claimer on him as well, to help him with the big weight, but they were unavailable so I had to go with a senior rider,” So said. “Brett hasn’t ridden him before but he’s the right type of jockey for a horse like Racing Supernova, so I’m confident he will give him a good ride. He did have some success for me recently!”
Racing Supernova trialled strongly at Happy Valley a month back under Moreira, while he has since recorded another eye-catching trial on the Sha Tin all-weather track, that time under Eddy Lai.
“He normally trials well but it was good to see him do it easily at Happy Valley while his dirt trial showed me that he was as fit as I could have him, even after two months without racing,” he said. “Earlier this season, he was missing the start, but he has jumped better in his last couple of starts and he was fast to jump in his trials. I think he should be able to push forward early from his barrier and then he can hopefully find a spot with cover. Obviously gate eight is not ideal, but I think Brett can make it work.”
So has recorded his best season to date after four seasons as a trainer. He sits on 56 wins for the term, three behind his former boss Caspar Fownes, and is firmly ensconced in fourth place in the trainers’ championship.
“I wouldn’t call my season incredible,” So laughed. “Incredible is John Size’s season, he is my idol and it has been amazing to see what he has done. But I’m very happy with how I have done, and I hope I can build on it next season. I still have some lightly raced horses like Bravo Watchman, Sight Leader and Relentless Me, they can still progress next year, while I have a handful of unraced horses too.
“The stable is in good shape, but obviously you also need luck too. Things can go wrong very quickly; horses can lose form, they can have little niggles, they can need a break, but hopefully we can measure up to what has been a great season this year.”
Size-trained House Of Fun (129lb) has already won five times this season, all at Sha Tin. He returns to Happy Valley for the first time since his debut, and a sixth win for the term could potentially see him usurp stablemate D B Pin as the season’s Most Improved Horse.
Others lining up in the Class 2 contest are Caspar Fownes-trained Southern Legend, who disappointed on debut as favourite but has trialled well since, as well as course and distance winners Super Turbo (124lb), Country Melody (121lb), Verbinsky (119lb), Flying Tourbillon (117lb) and High Five (115lb).
The Sweet Orange Handicap is the last of eight races at the final Happy Valley meeting of the 2016/17 season, and is scheduled to jump at 10:50pm. The first, the Class 4 Bulldozer Handicap (1000m), is set to begin the card at 7:15pm.