Mr Stunning has been getting reacquainted with an old partner in recent weeks, with jockey Karis Teetan set to slip his toes in the star speedster’s race-day irons on Sunday for the first time since March, 2016.
The Mauritian ace, currently hard on the heels of champion jockey Zac Purton in the riders’ premiership, is expecting a bold show in a suitably hot edition of the G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m). Mr Stunning claimed the prize last term on his way to securing victory in that December’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).
John Size was the man overseeing Mr Stunning’s career at that juncture but after a late-season stable switch the six-year-old is now under trainer Frankie Lor’s watch. Lor was Size’s assistant through the first two seasons of Mr Stunning’s career.
And Teetan was the man in the plate when the Exceed And Excel gelding made a winning debut around Happy Valley’s turning 1000m in February, 2016. Another victory went the duo’s way later that month before a short-head defeat at start three, at which point Teetan gave way to Joao Moreira, ever-present during the 2016/17 campaign.
“I rode him when he was a baby and always knew that he was going to be a Group horse, so I’m glad to be back on him now that he’s proven he’s one of the very best,” Teetan said at Sha Tin on Tuesday.
Mr Stunning scores back-to-back wins under Karis Teetan at Happy Valley, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Mr Stunning will clash with former stablemate Ivictory - Hong Kong’s Champion Sprinter, no less - in Sunday’s speed feature. The pair, slated to share top-weight of 133lb, last met when Ivictory leapt from a Class 2 win at Happy Valley to snare the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) by half a length from Mr Stunning.
“Ivictory was improving quickly last season when Mr Stunning ran second behind him. It looks like Ivictory will be favoured to beat him this time because he’s had a run already,” Teetan observed.
Ivictory stepped out earlier this month with a fine second to the lightly-weighted talent Hot King Prawn in the G3 National Day Cup Handicap (1000m) and the latter will be in opposition at the weekend too. Teetan, though, is expecting a good first-up effort from his mount; the bay posted a smart barrier trial effort on 9 October when passing the post in front over 1050m (all-weather) in a time of 1m 03.05s.
“I’m very happy with how my horse is going,” the jockey said. “This is the perfect start for him, he’s been trialling very well and he’s one of the best sprinters in Hong Kong. Horses of this class, they know how good they are.
“I’m confident that he’s not going to disappoint anybody. He’s holding his form, he’s very healthy and I’m looking forward to Sunday.”
And the rider emphasised that a second win in the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint on 9 December is the goal.
“This is just the start,” he said. “December is the big target but on the way he has the ability to pick up a win or two, and if he does I’ll be very happy. He’s felt very fresh when I’ve trialled him so he’s in a good spot for his first start.”
Also among the entries for the Premier Bowl Handicap are the G1-placed grey Fifty Fifty, this season’s HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup winner Winner’s Way, and the giant grey Pingwu Spark.
Sunday’s card also features a top-class edition of the G2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m), which has attracted Horse of the Year Beauty Generation and fellow G1 winners Pakistan Star, Time Warp, Werther and Beauty Only.