Impressive Mariachi up for bigger and better things
Mariachi can show he is a horse heading to bigger and better things by overcoming a wide barrier to win this afternoon's Carnation Handicap at Sha Tin at his 1,600-metre debut.
The fact that the Ricky Yiu Poon-fie-trained gelding has made such an impression in three starts at lesser trips is a bonus for connections, given the three-year-old has the pedigree to excel when he gets over even more ground.
He is by five-time 2,400m Group One winner Montjeu out of the multiple stakes winning Star Way mare Prieur Way, whose biggest success came in New Zealand over 1,900m.
It was obviously with some surprise that Mariachi came out as a 58-1 chance at his debut on October 7 over 1,200m and turned in an outstanding performance to be narrowly beaten by Pachinko but he showed it to be no fluke 27 days later when arguably unlucky not to defeat the impressive Sight Winner.
Mariachi tracked Sight Winner into the 1,400m event and looked likely to claim victory before he began to wander under pressure, which allowed Sight Winner to take the prize by a neck.
Sight Winner has since franked that form by scoring one of the most impressive wins of the season two weeks ago and he looks set to make a quick march up the ratings.
Mariachi then tackled a race restricted to horses sold through the Hong Kong International Sale last start and had no trouble in opening his winning account over Bullish Win, who has also gone onto a success since that event.
While this afternoon's event is clearly the toughest assignment Mariachi has faced, he looks ideally placed under 116 pounds and will likely be ridden patiently by Darren Beadman from gate 13 before unleashing a powerful finishing burst in the straight.
The biggest stumbling block for Mariachi appears to be the promising four-year-old Monte Cristo, despite taking a rise in class at only his third start.
The Andreas Schutz-trained gelding created a huge impression when coming with a powerful finishing burst to score a surprise debut win at 52-1 and he turned in another excellent effort at his last start to finish second to plunge winner Animation.
He will relish the rise to 1,600m for the first time and should be making his late charge with Mariachi down the outside of the course, which will be no disadvantage with the rail placed in the C+3 position.
Another promising youngster, Eight Plus Nine tackles this distance for the first time, and from an inside barrier, he has to be treated with respect.
The Almond Lee Yee-tat-trained four-year-old was most impressive in winning his first start for the season before ruining his chances at his last two outings by racing keenly in the early stages.
From a favourable draw, it will be no surprise to see Gerald Mosse take a more forward position and he clearly has the ability to be right in the finish.