Ferraris eyes HK Mile for Fleet Command
David Ferraris is turning his thoughts to international racing once again after he opened his season with a bang in yesterday's Kwangtung Handicap Cup (1,400m) to keep his perfect record intact with former Jockey Club chairman Sir John Swaine.
'Sir John is just a fantastic owner and I think now I've won with every horse I've had for him,' Ferraris said.
'The only thing I'm surprised about is that it has taken this long for Fleet Command to win one.'
The gelding arrived last year as a potential Derby horse after some worthwhile Group form in Australia at three, highlighted by finishing fifth in the Group One Australian Guineas, but that form has probably played its part in seeing Fleet Command (Jeff Lloyd) winless until yesterday's feature.
'He came here with a fairly high rating and has kept running well without winning, so he has stayed at that elevated level,' Ferraris said.
'I had no doubt he was up to winning off this rating, but he did do a few things wrong last season with over racing and the like and he couldn't afford to make those mistakes at this level.
'Now he isn't fighting the rider any more and I think he's a pretty decent type of horse,' he added.
Which is turning Ferraris' attention towards December and the Cathay Pacific International Races where he has been such a major player in the past with Vengeance Of Rain.
'Fleet Command's ideal trip looks like 1,400m but he might be a possibility for the Hong Kong Mile now that he is settling better,' he said.
'If you go back to last season, when he wasn't as relaxed, Gerald Mosse rode him very cold in the Classic Mile and he made up a lot of ground in that race against the top four-year-olds. Perhaps ridden that way again, he might be able to get a strong mile.'
Lloyd, who had ridden the five-year-old late last season, said the addition of blinkers and an extra few months under the belt had made all the difference.
'It's funny, most horses get keener with blinkers on but he was keen without them and has relaxed since they went on a couple of runs ago,' Lloyd said.
'Aside from that, he just seems more mature. He has become much easier to manage at the track in the mornings as well as in the race today.
'We got the right run, a nice pace and he won like he's going ahead now,' he added.
The race was robbed of a great deal of interest with the late scratching of warm favourite Fair Trade just under two hours before the Class One handicap, with trainer Caspar Fownes explaining later that it was simply a case of safety first on his part.
'There was just a little bit of heat in a fetlock joint - he's bumped it in the stall or something like that,' he said.
'It's nothing serious but I wasn't taking any risks with the horse. He has a big season ahead, I think he's going to become one of our better horses and for the sake of this race, I didn't want to put that at risk.'
For the Jockey Club, the late withdrawal meant returning some HK$4.9 million in bets to punters, although there was considerable time for those monies to be reinvested.
The Peter Ho Leung-trained Mr Medici (Derek Leung Ka-chun) continued to build on his career record as a horse who will run well in anything by charging home for second, while the Tony Cruz-trained Dream Team led and battled on for third under his light weight.
Long time coming
Fleet Command produced his first win after this many attempts: 13