Trainer David Ferraris got the pick-me-up his yard needed in the Hong Kong Jockey Club Community Trophy yesterday and is now eyeing a major offshore target for brilliant youngster Bear Hero.
The two-year-old made the graduation into open-age racing a comfortable win at the finish to keep his record unbeaten after three starts, having too much in his favour at the weights with Alvin Ng Ka-chun's claim.
'It's been a miserable season and it's been well publicised the problems that I've had with construction work across the road upsetting the stable but, when you get a horse like this, it's just what everyone in stable needs to get a morale boost,' Ferraris said after Bear Hero became the first two-year-old griffin for seven years to tackle the older horses in Class Three and carry off the prize.
Not since Great Win scored down the straight in May, 2004, had a two-year-old come out of griffin races to win in Class Three.
'Normally, I would not been keen to run against the older horses with a two-year-old. But with a five-pound allowance at the ratings and then another 10 pounds off for the boy, I thought he had to be very competitive and the owners were very keen to run in the race.'
Well-known part owner Peter Fan Pong-cho, who calls all his horses 'Bear' something, and another part-owner Dr Michael Mok Hing-hung raced a smart sprinter called Bear Macho with Ferraris and he won two of three as a juvenile before being competitive all the way to Class One several years ago.
'But this is a whole class better than Bear Macho, as good as he was. It's chalk and cheese. Bear Hero is a lovely-looking colt, has a fantastic temperament and he stands over a lot more ground than these General Nediym horses usually do,' Ferraris said. 'He's easy to handle and there's no need to geld him.'
The trainer said the youngster's season is finished, but his owners are now looking towards an unusual assignment, with a tentative plan to take Bear Hero to Melbourne to the Coolmore Stud Stakes down the Flemington straight on October 29.
'It's a Group One and, if he could win something like that he would have stallion potential,' Ferraris said.
'And it actually makes sense to look at a goal like that.
'He's probably got one more win here and he will be in Class Two against some tough older horses - there he will be racing his own age, which young horses don't get to do here. I think he's got the ideal temperament to travel him and we are going to look very closely at the idea.'
Top jockey Brett Prebble tried to put the blowtorch to young Ng with the year-older Eagle Regiment, crossing him immediately when the gates opened and getting ahead of the younger rider.
'But Alvin didn't panic - he rode his own race and rode the horse well. Bear Hero let down really well and the 25 pounds between them at the weights told,' Ferraris said.
'The fast time tells you that it was a very smart performance.'
Bear Hero would not be the first Hong Kong runner to tackle the Coolmore Stud Stakes, or Ascot Vale Stakes, which is its registered name. The John Moore-trained Able Choice finished fourth in the race in 2002 when the event was run in September.