Kid 'must earn his way into Derby'
There was a sense of deja vu at Sha Tin as John Size reeled off his sixth treble there in as many weeks and ended yesterday with the 'D' word bandied about for unbeaten Brave Kid.
The Dream Team of Size and champion jockey Douglas Whyte strung together victories with hotpots National Treasure, Presto and Brave Kid on an afternoon that rained favourites, but it was the almost four-length margin for Brave Kid that had Size watering down any talk of the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby.
'He's an entry for the race - a lot of horses are - but at this stage that is not the plan,' Size said.
'The plan is to keep trying to find races that Brave Kid can win. If he is able to keep winning and going up the ratings to the point where it makes some sense to look at a race like the Derby, then we can, but we'll wait and see. He won with a 70-rating today so it's a way off.'
Both Size and Whyte pointed out that, in contrast to four-year-old's narrow victory under difficulties last time, nothing at all went wrong for him this time from a good draw.
'Off a bad draw last run, he raced fiercely down the back early. From a good gate, Brave Kid got cover early, settled quicker and therefore put more into his finish today,' said Size.
Yet indications are already that Brave Kid will handle further than the 1,400m and Whyte said the gelding was deceptively strong once in front.
'When I popped the question, he probably picked up too quickly for a horse of his size and before I knew it he was a length and a half clear and just lobbing,' he said. 'I thought something would come out of the pack and grab him - you don't realise how much ground he's covering and he doesn't give you the impression he's moving clear; he feels like he's just floating.'
The margin is sure to catch the eye of the handicapper and Whyte said he hoped Brave Kid wouldn't be too heavily penalised and thrown into Class Two too quickly - but added he would be getting down to the required weight to ride him there if he was.
Good stable servant Presto put the writing on the wall at his last run and backed it up with his fifth 1,400m win with all the favours, including the 'just right' tempo.
'He needs it all to go right and he needs the kind of tempo he had today - fast enough that he's off the bridle but not so fast he gets 10 lengths back off the lead,' Whyte said. 'He can rattle home with the quickest of them and, even though he's getting towards a 100 ratings now, he could still pick up another if others leave themselves vulnerable by going too fast. He's very genuine, your natural bread-and- butter horse - a jockey's dream.'
National Treasure was a heavily bet favourite in the fifth event, but had his supporters' nerves on edge much of the way, looking to be under pressure before wearing them down late.
'You can see why John took him to the Valley those first two runs to try to give him some experience and get some manners into him,' Whyte said. 'He got hot going to the gates and was a handful there - it wasn't convincing but he'll be better with more experience and when he knuckles down to his job. He's a bit raw yet.'
On a mission
Douglas Whyte and John Size are making a strong impression in the jockeys' and trainers' tables. They boast a handy strike rate of: 14%