Kingy can eclipse challengers
Speed machine General Kingy will give his rivals something to chase over the straight 1,000 metres in race seven today, the Class Two Sheung Handicap.
The seven-year-old won't know himself, back to Class Two, usually mixing it in Class One or even higher at premier and group level. He has, in fact, a second to the champ Silent Witness over the straight course, albeit over two years ago but that was in the Group Two Sha Tin Vase when he chased the world's best sprinter home with former Horse of the Year Grand Delight finishing third.
That was the race that is regarded as finishing Grand Delight, a sprinting triple crown winner before Silent Witness broke his heart when in receipt of 20 pounds.
General Kingy was, of course, no match for Silent Witness but it certainly didn't break his heart.
He has gone on to win at Class One level and amass nearly $6 million in prize-money. In fact, he hasn't run in a Class Two since December 4 last year when he bolted in up the straight track, carrying 127 pounds and Craig Williams.
He is up only two pounds on that with Frenchman Olivier Doleuze replacing Williams, who is now back in Australia and in peak form too, winning yesterday's Group Two Craiglee Stakes at Flemington with Confectioner for David Hayes.
The gelding showed he was certainly ready for today's assignment when he bolted in with a 1,000m trial on the all-weather track on August 23. Admittedly, he was ridden right out to win but he won clearly and that hitout will have cleaned him right up for today.
Trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai has kept him up to the mark since with solid work too, finishing off with his final 400m of an 800m gallop in a smart 22.8 on Friday morning.
The danger to the topweight could come in the unlikely form of grey gelding, Kingston Winner. Unlikely, that is, until eight days ago when the six-year-old rubbed shoulders with the likes of Silent Witness and The Duke, also up the straight course.
It was at the annual Owners' Carnival and it looked a mis-match in the proportions of David versus Goliath, Kingston Winner up against the champ, but he ran a tremendous trial to finish a close third behind the Witness and quality performer The Duke.
Many veterans, especially from other parts of the world, believe 'trials are only trials - it's when the money is on that counts' but trial form has always stood up well in Hong Kong and on that effort Kingston Winner has to be highly regarded.
Formerly prepared by three-times champion trainer John Size, the grey hasn't won since May 2003 but new trainer Gary Ng Ting-keung is obviously doing something right with him.
He will be receiving a hefty 15 pounds from General Kingy and with only 114 he will take a power of beating if he can go on from that trial effort.
Able Choice certainly knows how to mix his form but trainer John Moore looks to have him firing again with very good work last week.
Like General Kingy, he is a Class One winner and if he runs up to his best, he has to be among the main chances.
Moore and fellow Australian Michael Rodd look as if they could be in for a big day for the season opener and Able Choice must be considered.
Chateau King Prawn could be the best of the rest. He has had only the one run to date but trialled reasonably on August 27 and wasn't over-exerted in the final stages once he was beaten.
Trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing has put plenty of work into him and Shum and Shane Dye look like being a very formidable combination this season.
Remembering that Chateau King Prawn won twice over 1,000m in England, including one at the Royal Ascot meeting, it would be most unwise to overlook him when he returns to his specialist distance. Shum and Dye combined to win a Class Three race over this course last year with Jolly Good Fortune.