It’s been a while since the Hong Kong sprinting division has had any genuine depth but it should be clearer by late Sunday afternoon whether hopes of a resurgence are warranted.
The Group Two BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1,200m) looks one of the hotter sprint races in the city in some time and with some luck it’ll see a number of gallopers put their hands up as top-liners of the future.
Hot King Prawn is the only multiple Group winner in the field and the past eight Group races from 1,000m to 1,200m in Hong Kong have been shared between eight different gallopers – Lucky Patch, Super Wealthy, Courier Wonder, Wellington, Amazing Star, Hot King Prawn, Explosive Witness and Danon Smash.
Hot King Prawn and Wellington are the two Group One winners in the field and both are first-up for the season, while potential top-liners Sky Field, Courier Wonder and Naboo Attack all have points to prove after disappointing runs last start.
Just how good Wellington is remains to be seen but he’s the closest thing Hong Kong has to an A-grade sprinter at present after winning April’s Chairman’s Sprint Prize.
While the five-year-old is unlikely to be ready to show his best after an interrupted preparation, jockey Alexis Badel is hopeful the Richard Gibson-trained galloper can put his best foot forward in his only tune up for the Group One Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m) next month.
“The horse feels good. His last trial was quite good, impressive. The horse showed good speed, he relaxed and responded quite well in the end, so I’m very happy,” said Badel, who was aboard for Wellington’s elite-level success earlier this year.
“He’s always been quite an easy horse to get fit and, of course, he’s a very good horse so he always gives me a good feel. He might need that first competition, he might need to run but he looks good, fresh and happy. His action is good as well.
“I’m just glad to see him back at the [races] because he’s such a good horse and I believe he’s going to run a strong race. I’m looking forward to it and let’s see how he goes.”
Lucky Patch brings the best form into the race after winning the Group Two Premier Bowl (1,200m) last month.
Courier Wonder finished fifth in that contest as the $2.30 favourite, travelling behind midfield from gate nine under superstar jockey Joao Moreira before finding trouble in the straight – something that looks unlikely to be an issue from gate six this time around.
“He’ll probably be in the first three. I’m not sure if he’ll lead – one of the other horses might have the speed to lead him but I’m pretty sure he’ll be running in the first three or four,” trainer John Size said.
“He didn’t take any backward steps after that race. He’s indicated in his trials that he’s improved a little bit since his run. I expect him to run a better race.”