Jockey Karis Teetan will partner Sleep Education in the St George’s Challenge Cup Handicap (1000m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night , in what he hopes will be the first leg of a family double.
The David Ferraris-trained Sleep Education is a Visionaire half-brother to Horse Of Fortune, and Teetan is set to ride the latter in Singapore’s Kranji Mile on 26 May. Both horses, out of the mare Sweet Virginia, were purchased out of South Africa.
Since his arrival, Sleep Education has mixed his form, recording one placing from eight starts, primarily over 1200m and 1400m at Sha Tin. Unraced since February, the chestnut will drop to 1000m for the first time on Wednesday night, a move that Teetan says was not the original plan.
“He was actually meant to run over the 1650m tomorrow night,” he said. “However, he was reserve number one and the field was not full for this race so David made the decision to transfer him over. He needs to have a run and something different may not be a bad thing.”
While it was an unintended diversion for Sleep Education, Teetan believes Wednesday night’s contest over the shorter trip may prove a crucial turning point for the five-year-old.
“On paper, it is going to be too short for him but I hope that he is running on strongly at the finish,” he said. “If they go very fast, he could be running over the top of them and it might just remind him what his job is and it could prove beneficial to him in the long run.
“He’s a horse that has so much ability, but we just are battling to figure out what distance is his best trip. He ran well with me when he dropped in class, we finished third at Sha Tin over 1400m earlier this year, but since then he just hasn’t been focusing. I’m hoping this run, fresh, can help him to switch on.
“In fact, he reminds me a lot of Horse Of Fortune,” Teetan continued. “Horse Of Fortune took a few runs here to figure out what it was all about, but once Tony (Millard) had spent some time with him, he raced through his grades quickly. Sleep Education has just taken time to adapt, so I’m hopeful that he will come to hand at the end of this season or the start of next season.”
Sleep Education (red and yellow cap) finishes a creditable third at Sha Tin two starts back, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Sleep Education (129lb) will jump from gate eight of 11 and is one of two Ferraris-trained horses in the field. General Iron (124lb), something of a Happy Valley 1000m specialist, also runs for the first time in two months with Douglas Whyte aboard.
Another course and distance specialist is the John Size-trained Money Boy (132lb). Brett Prebble has ridden the four-year-old at his last five starts and will take the ride again.
“He’s a bit of a timid horse, really,” Prebble said. “When he gets crowded or when he gets into a situation where he doesn’t feel comfortable, he looks after himself. He’s very honest, as long as the race is run to his liking, he’ll give you a good fight, but he’s just at a mark where he’s starting to find it tough.
“I felt he struggled a little bit in the 85 to 60 ratings race last start, he found it a bit tough, but back to the 80 to 60 should suit and any rain around would really help his cause.”
Also in the field is the Frankie Lor-trained Country Melody (132lb), who will have the aid of Victor Wong’s 10-pound claim. He will be Wong’s third ride at Happy Valley, with the apprentice riding in the first five races at his maiden night at the city track.
The St George’s Challenge Cup is scheduled as the third of eight races and is set to jump at 8.15pm, with the opener, the Class 5 Cornwall Handicap (1650m), to begin the card at 7.15pm.