Tuscan Spirit to take on the big boys in Sprint Cup

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 April, 2009, 12:00am

Tuscan Spirit has come a long way in a short time and, with only one opportunity left this season to test the three-year-old against the older horses, trainer John Size will not shy away from the challenge.

Tuscan Spirit, winner of four of his six starts since arriving from New Zealand, will take on multiple Group One winner Inspiration and Chairman's Sprint Prize winner Dim Sum in the Group Two Sprint Cup at Sha Tin on May 1.

The conditions of the race are weight-for-age with allowances of five pounds for horses who have not won a Group One this season.

Whether he runs or not, that puts fallen idol Sacred Kingdom into the race well because he gets the benefit of the allowance, with his two Group One wins having come in the 2007-08 season.

But Tuscan Spirit is still only a three-year-old and he gets two allowances - three pounds for being a member of the junior age group and another five because he is not a Group One winner. His allocated weight in the race will therefore be 120 pounds.

'There really is no place for him to go,' Size said. 'His rating might be a bit low [109] but he's high on consistency and ability, that's for sure.'

Size gave Tuscan Spirit a barrier trial on Tuesday that should serve to tune him up nicely for the task.

'His last race was on Derby day [March 22] so it would be a fair gap between runs,' the trainer said. 'So I thought a barrier trial would help bring along his fitness to the required level.'

With first-choice jockey Douglas Whyte away for a couple of days, Eric Saint-Martin lent a hand to handle Tuscan Spirit and returned with a positive report.

When entries closed for the HK$3 million Sprint Cup yesterday, the Jockey Club took just 10 nominations.

They are Dim Sum, Express Win, Inspiration, Kildare, Medic Power, One World, Regency Dragon, Sacred Kingdom, Sunny Power and Tuscan Spirit. The Sprint Cup has only been run on the one occasion, having fallen to Sacred Kingdom (Howard Cheng Yue-tin) last year.

John Moore will use the race as the platform for an assault on the S$1 million (HK$5.1 million) Krysflyer Sprint on May 17 in Singapore with his Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint winner Inspiration.