Ho has ambitious plans for classy Packing Winner
Packing Winner continued his rapid climb up the ratings and impressed trainer Peter Ho Leung enough to utter the 'I' word in the wake of his soft win in the Kwangtung Handicap Cup.
Packing Winner, the shortest-priced favourite of the day ($18.50), cruised to a 11/4-length win in the Class Two mile, though precious few of the 16,130 people in attendance at Sha Tin would not have been impressed.
Packing Winner, like champion Vengeance Of Rain, is a son of Cambridge Stud super sire Zabeel, a stallion with which Ho has developed a strong affinity.
'I had the first good Zabeel in Hong Kong,' said Ho, who also trained another Zabeel son, Packing Angel, to eight wins and HK$5.7 million in earnings.
'But I think this one is a very good horse. I know it's a big class jump, but I'm really hoping he can measure up and qualify for the International races in December. That's our goal anyway.'
The next step will be to create a bridge from where he is now, having won a Class Two on a domestic rating of 83, to where he needs to be, Group winner or placegetter with an international rating of 110. That process will start today with a phone call to winning jockey Douglas Whyte.
'I'll have a good talk with Douglas and get his input,' Ho said. 'But I already know he thinks well of this horse and believes he has a lot of potential.'
Whyte said Packing Winner, who now boasts a four-from-nine winning record, has come a long way in terms of mental maturity in the space of two races.
'All the time, early last season, he just wanted to run, and was going too hard,' Whyte explained.
'The last run he had [June 3] I said to Peter that while the horse is down in grade we should take the chance and not lead.
'So we sat him in behind one to try and teach him something and that was his most impressive win.'
Whyte said that single piece of education has made a world of difference to Packing Winner's attitude to racing.
'Since that run, he's learned even more and today, he came out wanting to go but when I gave him my signal, he dropped the bit immediately and was very happy to be behind horses,' he said. 'He relaxed so much that I was even niggling him at the 600 metres to get him going.
'He let down beautifully, he's enjoying his job, and I'm sure he can win over more ground.'
On a hard track where times were blistering all day, Packing Winner registered 1:34.4. And while that sounds exceptionally quick for Class Two, it's sobering to note he equalled the time run by Figs in Class Five in the opener.
Lotzatow showed a welcome return to form for trainer Manfred Man Ka-leung after being driven hard by Brett Prebble to defeat Rice Field by a neck for second. Rice Field, in turn, relegated heavily bet second favourite Luckyme into fourth place by a mere nose.