Thrills set for crack at Sprint
Boom young sprinter All Thrills Too scorched to victory in the Sprint Trial Trophy to give David Hayes hopes of a crack at the big boys down the straight 1,000 metres on International Day. But the leading trainer faces a nervous 48 hours as he waits to see whether the four-year-old has done enough to earn a place in the home team for next month's Hong Kong Sprint.
All Thrills Too was described by senior handicapper Ciaran Kennelly as 'borderline' to make the cut, but Hayes was in no doubt that his gelding deserved a place among the Hong Kong selections for the $8 million race when they are announced on Wednesday.
'I'm very excited and I think he would be a very good candidate for Hong Kong,' the trainer said after All Thrills Too had swooped late to score by a length from Solid Contact. 'He's won his last two now over the straight 1,000 metres in fast times and I still don't really know how good he is. Every time I ask him to do something more, he improves again. He's a super horse to train.'
But Kennelly sounded a note of caution after the race. 'All Thrills Too will probably go up eight or nine pounds for this win, but you have to remember he was near the bottom of the weights today. If all the available sprinters in Hong Kong are entered for the Sprint, he is a borderline case to be one of the selections. Having said that, we may have an extra place available for Hong Kong in the Sprint, so we could select five horses.'
All Thrills Too has made tremendous progress from his winning debut on International Day last year and this was his fifth victory in nine starts for Hayes. 'It's amazing to think that in 12 months he's gone from his debut to being good enough to represent Hong Kong,' Hayes added.
'He has got the length to be a good horse and he always works very well and he showed today he can come from anywhere. We train him to go behind horses and he always does it very well. We knew there would be plenty of speed in the race and so we decided to use the same tactics and he loved it.'
All Thrills Too's late surge was enough to overhaul Solid Contact by a length with Kenwood Melody half a length farther back. Connections of both the placed horses, who went into the race rated 13 pounds higher than All Thrills Too, are eyeing the Hong Kong Sprint after yesterday's encouraging efforts.
Solid Contact has never won over 1,000 metres but the seven-year-old has been in rare form this season and trainer Derek Cruz was delighted with the run. 'I've already talked to the owner about running in the Sprint and we're going to go for it,' Cruz said. 'He'll have a big swing in the weights with All Thrills Too if they both run and I think he'll go very well again.
'The International meeting will fall just right for him because he likes a three-week gap between his races. He seems to be getting better as he gets older - he's training very well and he's running well in his races.'
Lawrie Fownes, Kenwood Melody's trainer, said: 'He should be an automatic selection for the Hong Kong Sprint after that. He has been going well in his work and he had his chance today, but I'm not disappointed. He ran well.'
Charming City, Hayes' other runner, finished fourth on his first run in blinkers and the trainer admitted he was in a quandary over the five-year-old's target at the International meeting. 'I'll enter him for the Sprint and the Mile and let the Jockey Club decide,' he said. 'The blinkers helped today and he ran a good race, but then again he might get a soft lead in the Mile and run a place.'
King Of Danes, who won this race last year before finishing third in the Sprint, could finish only seventh on his seasonal debut after leading until past halfway, but trainer Tony Cruz was not disappointed.
'I was very happy with how he ran. I've planned his preparation this way and I knew that he would need one run to be ready for the Sprint. He will be much fitter on International day,' said Cruz.
Lucky Win, who vied for favouritism with All Thrills Too, disputed the lead on the far rail but faded badly after halfway to finish last. Peter Ho's Singaporean import had filled the same position in the Happy Valley Trophy on his first start in Hong Kong.