Bear Hero still carrying mental scars from injury
Bear Hero put a tumultuous six months behind him with a workmanlike win up the Sha Tin straight, but he might still feeling the effects of an injury suffered on his ill-fated early-season trip to Australia, according to winning jockey Neil Callan.
The David Ferraris-trained speedster maintained his unbeaten record over the course and distance with a close win that lacked the brilliance of his previous victories, but still extended his record to an impressive four wins and two runner-up efforts from seven starts.
Last season's Griffin of the Year was unbeaten when he resumed on the first day of the season and was upset by King Mossman on his first try around a bend, before being prepared for the stallion-making Coolmore Stakes at Flemington.
The race was over at the jump when Bear Hero tore a front plate off, along with much of his hoof.
Ferraris admitted he 'should never have taken him to Australia', but was pleased the horse had bounced back with a win after his runner-up effort when resuming over 1,400m last December, and then suffering a setback and missing two weeks of work.
'The five-furlongs at Sha Tin is his best trip, without a doubt,' Ferraris said. 'But I don't know if he was 100 per cent today, because he started to hang across the track.'
Callan, who sat on the horse for the first time in a much-needed barrier trial 10 days ago, said the tendency to lay out under pressure was likely a mental hangover from Melbourne.
'He is still worrying about the injury he had, where he overreached,' Callan said. 'Today should be good for his confidence, he is only a young horse and he has not had many runs. As he gets more mature, he'll learn how to relax and then let himself down. On the bridle he is fine, but it is only when you go to let him down and let him stretch he just starts leaning to one side, as if it is going to happen again, because it was quite severe what happened to him.'
Both trainer and jockey agreed the flashy-looking colt would come on for the run, just as he had after his flat-looking trial.
'He was blowing like he would blow the house down after the race,' Callan said. 'I'd expect him to improve five or six pounds after that. Before the trial, he'd been off for a long time and he was a little bit ring-rusty, and he had a good blow then, too. His work since then had been good, it really switched him on.'