New star officially the second best in Hong Kong
Scintillating National Panasonic Cup winner Electronic Unicorn (right) has been elevated to a clear second-rated position in Hong Kong racing by Jockey Club chief handicapper Ciaran Kennelly.
In response to Saturday's thrashing of a top-class field over 1,200 metres in Electronic Unicorn's seasonal debut, Kennelly lifted the John Size-trained gelding's rating by 12 points to 132, putting him six pounds clear of Billion Win and Indigenous. That leaves him still six short of Fairy King Prawn at the top, however, and the handicapper sounded some words of caution on the relative Hong Kong Mile prospects of Saturday's blistering hero and the dual Horse of the Year.
'In fairness, Fairy King Prawn will justifiably rank with the best in the world, but I don't really know where Electronic Unicorn is internationally,' Kennelly said. 'I am always cautious. Clearly Electronic Unicorn has come back well, but I think we need to wait and see if his handicap form will translate to Group One form - at the Jockey Club we certainly hope it does. But even if you say that Electronic Unicorn is a genuine six pounds below Fairy King Prawn, he still has a bit to find at level terms.'
In last year's International Classifications, released shortly after Fairy King Prawn's short-head second to Sunline in last year's Hong Kong Mile, Hong Kong's leading horse had an international rating of 122. That put him a pound below the world's best older milers on turf - Indian Lodge, Danfili and Mutathir, none of whom are still racing - while Electronic Unicorn, who finished fifth in last year's Hong Kong Mile, was assessed 11 pounds lower at 111. Those figures are unlikely to be revised for either horse until they run in the Hong Kong Mile at international level on December 16.
'When we look at the horses which may come for the Hong Kong Mile, Val Royal, who won the Breeders' Cup Mile, and Slickly have the highest current international mile ratings on 123, Sunline is on 120 and the Breeders' Cup runner-up, Forbidden Apple, on 119,' Kennelly said.
On the domestic front, Kennelly said he felt obliged to lift Electronic Unicorn higher than his initial estimate of 10 pounds. 'I felt that Cliffhanger had to go up three pounds for finishing runner-up, so that pushed Electronic Unicorn up a little higher, but domestic handicaps don't necessarily reflect international ratings. The good horses especially tend to creep up in the domestic ratings through the racing season, which is why they have to be reassessed at the end of it,' Kennelly said. 'When they closed last season, Fairy King Prawn was on 131 domestically and Electronic Unicorn 11 pounds below him, as they are in the international figures.
'On face value, the latest figures suggest he is five pounds closer to Fairy King Prawn after Saturday's win but it isn't as simple as that. Bear in mind, I only put Fairy King Prawn up seven pounds for his National Day Cup win, and the horses he beat, Shaxi Fortune and Meridian Star, then finished first and second in the Sha Tin Trophy. I could conceivably revisit that and put Fairy King Prawn up a further four or five pounds and then he and Electronic Unicorn would have 11 pounds between them again.'