Patience key to a Derby win, says Me Tsui Yu-sak
Me Tsui Yu-sak admits his first ever Derby runner, Wah May Star, is a sprinter and if not given a soft run has no chance of running a strong 2,000m.
But despite what seems to be a forlorn assessment of his horse's chances in the HK$16 million race, Tsui claimed an apparent lack of stamina put his grey flash in the same category as most of his rivals.
"I think my horse is a sprinter, maybe a sprinter-miler, but a lot of the horses can't get the distance either, most of them are milers, too," he said.
"The Derby is a big money race, but it isn't always a good-quality race. They are only four years old - and this year a lot of the horses look like being better next year. And a Class Two horse could be good enough to win it."
With blinkers on for the first time in the Hong Kong Classic Mile, Wah May Star set a blistering pace with Howard Cheng Yue-tin aboard, before capitulating badly. But with the headgear off and ridden quieter in the 1,800m Hong Kong Classic Cup, Wah May Star ran a cheeky race, looming in the straight before peaking on his run late and finishing fifth.
Tsui had bad news for rival trainers looking to pencil Wah May Star in as leader or a pace influence on their speed maps; he will be instructing Australian jockey Craig Williams to "get cover, but be handy" from gate seven. "If we lead he would be sure to die on his run," Tsui said.
"He can run 1,600m, but to get that 300 or 400m more he needs a slow pacing. If he can sit fourth or fifth maybe he has a chance. I don't believe a miler can lead and win in this race.
"I thought he [Cheng] pushed the button a little bit early in the Classic Cup."
The Derby has a long history of owners sending sprinters into the prestigious middle distance event, sometimes to the detriment of their careers, but Tsui is confident this attempt won't ruin his stable star.
"Everyone wants a horse in the Derby, and I understand the thinking of owners," Tsui said. "I hope he will be a top-level sprinter in the future."