Giant Treasure tackles 2,000m for the second time in Sunday’s Group One Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup and his trainer Richard Gibson playfully suggested on Wednesday he would inject some speed into the race with a stablemate if he could.
A narrow win over Luger at a mile in the Stewards’ Cup gave Giant Treasure his first win at the top level last start and now the five-year-old will be stretched to his outer limits distance-wise in the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Giant Treasure was a non-threatening fifth behind Luger in last year’s Hong Kong Derby over the trip and Gibson said the distance query wasn’t so much about stamina, but rather how the horse settles if the pace is slow – something that wouldn’t be a problem if pacemakers were allowed in Hong Kong.
“What he wants is a consistent pace in the race,” Gibson said. “Put it this way, if I was with Juddmonte Farms, Coolmore or Godolphin I would be running a pacemaker in the race to ensure a steady tempo.
“Still, we are relaxed enough about stretching him out to that distance and the blinkers will stay on for this race. He has been settling well in his races this season and we don’t have concerns about distance per se, actually my concern isn’t about stamina at all, it’s about the pace in the race.”
In the absence of free-going front runners to pull the field along, getting the horse to settle will be left in the capable hands of jockey Christophe Soumillon, with owner Pan Sutong flying the Belgian mercenary in to ride Giant Treasure and stablemate Gold-Fun in the Group One Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup.
Both horses worked on the Sha Tin turf to Gibson’s satisfaction on Sunday and the trainer is confident of Gold-Fun’s chances stepping up to his pet distance in a race the horse won two seasons ago.
“He has probably been the most consistent horse in Hong Kong for the past two seasons,” Gibson said. “He is straightforward to train and like all good pros he is gearing up for another big run.”
Giant Treasure has been issued an invite to compete in the US$6 million Dubai Turf on March 26 but Gibson indicated a trip to Meydan is not likely.
“That’s something to discuss after Sunday’s race. Of course it will be up to the owner, but let’s get this Group One out of the way first,” he said.