Express on fast track to bright future
'That's more my horse!' said a beaming owner Larry Yeung Chi-kin after Danehill Express announced himself as a future big-race contender in the Quicken Away Handicap yesterday.
Yeung, who has raced champions like Mr Vitality, Oriental Express and Olympic Express in the past, has had a lean run since the retirement of trainer Ivan Allan, with only David Oughton able to provide him with a winner in Oriental Magic earlier this season.
'It has been a while but I think this horse has some real potential,' said Yeung, who took a call from an equally thrilled Allan moments after the race.
A half-brother to Mr Vitality, Danehill Express was a $1 million yearling in Australia with a potential stud career, bought and raced by Yeung and Allan.
He showed enormous promise as a three-year-old in Melbourne, quickly rising to a second placing at Group One level in March last year, but a lung infection later stalled the colt's career.
'I'm unaware of what actually happened with him in Australia,' said trainer John Size. 'But he didn't come to me with any problem and he hasn't had one since.
'He hasn't been here too long and I was thinking I just wanted to get him up and running and let him experience Hong Kong racing before the season ended. But he's adjusted quickly and a win with him at this stage is a bit of a bonus.'
Certainly Danehill Express appeared to have a good blow after yesterday's win and looked like he had some way still to go to be fully fit.
'Well, he is a stallion and carries quite a lot of flesh, so he probably will always look a bit heavier because of that fact, too,' the trainer said.
'He may race again this season if he's OK and there's a suitable race but we'll see how he is.'
Said winning rider Douglas Whyte: 'Danehill Express was another classic case of a Size horse coming on for the one run. First time out, he was flat-footed. I was at him the whole way up the straight and he just kept digging. Today, once the gates opened he just travelled. He dashed when I went for him, then got tired the last bit but I was thinking he ought to be tired - they were running along and he had 132 pounds.
'What's exciting is how much John's horses do usually come on again when they've had the sort of race Danehill Express had today.'
It was an odd juxtaposition of events yesterday, with the Champions & Chater Cup signalling the end of the big races for the season on the day that champion trainer-in-waiting Size was further signalling his intentions for next season's major events.
Size is building up what looks a strong array of top-end talent, with Danacourt having already made it clear he will be one of the big names and Danehill Express and Armada advertising their scope for the future yesterday.
Armada made it five from five despite never looking comfortable in the wet ground.
'When the rain stopped it definitely helped his cause, but he looked unbalanced and green during the race and I think it was probably the wet track,' Size said.
Whyte said he and Size had agreed that they didn't want the horse close to the rail where the ground was cutting up by the final race, but the jockey is adamant that firmer ground will be the gelding's forte.