Jockey Karis Teetan is under no illusions about the task facing John Size-trained Premiere in the Class 2 Waterfall Bay Handicap (1200m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, but believes the three-year-old is capable of continuing his rise through the grades by making it four wins in a row.
Teetan partnered Premiere (119lb) on debut back in October when the Dylan Thomas gelding finishing second in a restricted Class 4 race down the straight at Sha Tin. He had not been on Premiere’s back again until an all-weather track trial last Friday (10 March), where the bay came from off the speed to cross the line first under a hold.
“It was a very good trial, he’s in good form, John wanted him to do some work and he really finished his trial very strongly,” Teetan said at Sha Tin trackwork on Tuesday morning (14 March) before indicating that he felt Premiere had improved physically in the five months since his debut. “It’s nice to get the opportunity to ride him again. He’s definitely a better horse now than when I rode him, he’s more mature and he’s tougher. He will need to be against this company, because he will need to settle if he is to see out the 1200m.”
Premiere’s six starts have all been over 1000m – three times down the straight at Sha Tin for two seconds and a fourth, three times at Happy Valley for three wins. He now steps up in trip and that, coupled with the step up to Class 2, has Teetan cautious.
“I think the main thing with him is to make him see the 1200m,” the Mauritian jockey said, with Premiere to jump from gate four. “Even in the trial, we were trying to switch him off a little bit so he could finish off. I don’t think at this stage he could lead at 1200m in this grade and keep going, even with a light weight.
“I think it would be better for him to have a horse to follow, just to save a little energy, I don’t want him too far back but just behind the speed would be nice. There’s a few that will be up on speed too, Molly’s Jade Star, Sea Jade, so it is easier to chase them. I will hope to do what Hugh Bowman did on him before, he showed a nice turn of foot coming from behind when he won the first time.”
Teetan pointed to last-start dead-heaters Sea Jade (133lb) and Blocker Dee (133lb) as the main dangers in the competitive Class 2, with the rider having partnered Caspar Fownes-trained Blocker Dee in that Class 1 event on 15 February.
“It’s a tough race,” he said. “Blocker Dee I obviously know quite well and he is in good form, and then you have Sea Jade too, he’s a horse that’s improving all the time but he does have to carry the weight. It’s a race with a few chances but I’m also going there with a live chance, so let’s hope we see Premiere’s ability.”
Premiere won a Class 3 handicap over 1000m at Happy Valley last start, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
John Moore-trained Sea Jade is the other three-year-old in the race and enters Wednesday night on a rating of 95, having started his season in October with a win off a mark of 51. Leading jockey Joao Moreira, who rode both Premiere and Sea Jade last start, believes the pair are evenly matched at this stage of their careers.
“Sea Jade is a lovely horse going forward,” Moreira said. “He has improved quite a lot, in the early days of his career I didn’t think he would be that good and I’m glad that he has proven me wrong. He’s won five races already this season and there looks like there is more to come.
“They are both good horses, Premiere and Sea Jade, it was tough to choose between them. There isn’t much between them currently. If I get beaten by Premiere, I wouldn’t be surprised, but I believe Sea Jade looks suited to this race. It’s proven that Sea Jade has speed and he will probably be up near the lead, but I don’t think he will be capable of leading on his own. I haven’t spoken to John Moore yet, but I think the pace will be hot so I don’t think the winner will lead. It’s going to be a very interesting race, but I think at the end of the day the best horse will win.”
Also among those contesting the 1200m Class 2 are Richard Gibson’s Jetwings (126lb) at his second run back from a 14-month break, one-time LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint fifth Golden Harvest (125lb) for Tony Millard, and David Hall-trained Super Turbo (122lb).
The Waterfall Bay Handicap is the last of eight races at Happy Valley and is scheduled to jump at 10:50pm, with the first, the Class 4 Pok Fu Lam Handicap (1200m), set for 7:15pm.