Trainer John Size takes a full hand of five into Sunday’s HK$4.25 million BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) and given the quality of the quintet, let alone the weight of numbers in a likely nine horse field, he has a strong chance to trump his rivals.
The question is which might be the ace? Hot King Prawn will be widely considered the obvious choice given his two wins this season, not to mention his marvellous career record of eight wins from nine starts and the booking of Joao Moreira. But he does step up from handicap competition to this set weights and penalties Group 2 race.
Thus there is a level of intrigue with each of Size’s runners. D B Pin, Beat The Clock and Premiere are appearing for the first time this season while his G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) winner Ivictory is bidding to turn around an out of character last start failure.
Size offered key insight to each of the five after Tuesday morning’s barrier trials at Sha Tin - beginning with Ivictory, who finished five lengths last of 10 behind Hot King Prawn in the G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m) on 21 October.
“I think he’s fine and he might bounce back. There’s nothing wrong with him physically and mentally he’s happy. Last time, he sat outside a strong leader (Hot King Prawn) and that leader is not weak. He had no option but to go forward from the draw but it may not have served him well.
“He could have done too much first-up. It could have been anything but the important thing is he came home sound,” Size said of Sunday’s highest rated (128) Sprint runner who did concede 16lb to Hot King Prawn when three quarters of a length second to him first-up in G3 National Day Cup (1000m).
Hot King Prawn, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Ivictory finished third in a barrier trial (1050m) at Sha Tin last Friday (9 November) with D B Pin second and Premiere fourth, and just one length separated the trio. “He did show me a touch more spark in the trial,” said jockey Zac Purton.
Hot King Prawn, who has graduated way beyond wildcard status with his near unblemished record, should cope with the graduation from handicap conditions according to the trainer.
“Well, he goes from the handicap to set weights and penalties but he’s come through the qualifying conditions. He’s competed with them in handicaps and beaten them. On the rating (123) he’s earned, he should be able to go with them at the set weights,” he said.
Premiere has not appeared since chalking up a fourth straight win in the G3 Bauhinia Sprint Trophy (1000m) on 7 January. The talented five-year-old, whose preparation has been chiefly undertaken at Conghua, not only faces a test at G2 level but also at the distance. Each of his seven wins has been at 1000m and he’s been unplaced in three previous attempts at 1200m.
“He’s only rated 110 and has a bit to find but there’s no other race for him. He may be a 1000 metres horse but you have to try and he is a very good racehorse with a good temperament and shouldn’t be disregarded. He has a few soundness issues so I’ve brought him along quietly at Conghua,” Size said.
Chad Schofield takes the ride on Sunday after partnering the New Zealand-bred gelding in last Friday’s trial. “That was the first time I’ve been on him but he trialled very nicely and he’s obviously a very good horse,” Schofield said.
D B Pin showed he’s competitive at the top level with his second to former Size-trained star Mr Stunning in last year’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) before winning the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) in January. However, he’s not raced since and Size said “he’s carrying a bit of weight”.
Beat The Clock, who dead-heated for second behind D B Pin in the Centenary Sprint Cup, hasn’t raced since April when third to Ivictory and Mr Stunning in the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m). “He’s very good fresh and has come along well this preparation. He’s in good shape,” Size said.
The BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Sprint is one of three features on Sunday, alongside the BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2000m) and the BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Mile (1600m) in which Beauty Generation will line up.