Extra distance should benefit Hail The Storm
An extra 200m and his defeated run in the Classic Mile are the factors that can make Hail The Storm go one better and turn the tables on Sunny Sing in today's Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby Trial.
The Caspar Fownes-trained Hail The Storm (Douglas Whyte) was right there to win the Classic Mile after a perfect ride from Whyte but in-form Sunny Sing (Eric Saint-Martin) sprinted too hard for him over the final 200m to grab victory in the shadows of the post.
To all intents and purposes, Sunny Sing was the better horse and most likely will be favourite in today's Derby lead-up on the strength of it but there are two reasons Hail The Storm can change that result.
One is the extra distance of the race. Hail The Storm is certainly looking more and more a stayer as his Derby season goes along, grinding away at the top end of the race last time rather than quickening as Sunny Sing was able to coming off a lead-up of shorter races.
But perhaps the fact of having had that race will prove the deciding point for Hail The Storm.
Sunny Sing was in peak form and fitness, coming off successive strong 1,400m wins. On the other hand, Hail The Storm had been given something of a break after his 1,800m run on international day in December.
Though he had been given a solid trial leading up to the Classic Mile, Hail The Storm might just have lacked the hard edge that only competition can really give a horse and, when push came to shove in the tough final 50m, the race-fit horse prevailed.
The gelding should have come on for having had that race and Fownes has given him another nice trial in the meantime.
With his preparation timed to have Hail The Storm at his absolute peak in three weeks for 2,000m on Derby day, the gelding should be cherry ripe to run a big race at 1,800m today.
As for Sunny Sing, who would say he cannot run 1,800m?
Today's race promises just a steady, even pace from Very Fit so it might not be altogether a staying test - a race not unlike the Classic Mile in fact - and John Moore's Irish import has shown an impressive turn of foot which gives him one edge over his more stamina-laden rivals.
Hello Pretty (Gerald Mosse) has looked nothing but a stayer this season despite Class Two wins at 1,400m in November and January and his effort behind the placegetters in the Classic Mile served to reaffirm that while also showing that he was right up to the higher grade horses.
He will appreciate the additional 200m and has the ability and draw to race handy to the speed.
Happee Owner (Felix Coetzee), Good Nature (Shane Dye) and improving Hawkes Bay (Brett Prebble) look the other possibilities in the race with the draw against Good Nature and Hawkes Bay having to make a serious step in grade from Class Three.