Life can be tough for a “tweener” – a horse not quite a sprinter nor a pure miler, but somewhere in between. Packing Pins fits that category and he gets a great chance at what might be his sweet spot distance-wise in Saturday’s Group Three Celebration Cup.
Packing Pins has ran strong races at a high level at 1,200m and 1,600m, but if a group race breakthrough happens for Ricky Yiu Poon-fai’s talented six-year-old, then a contest like Saturday’s 1,400m event could represent his best chance.
Jockey Chad Schofield takes the ride on Packing Pins for the first time and likes what he sees from the gelding.
“He hasn’t won a big one yet but he has knocked on the door, and he has shown how good he is without winning a feature,” Schofield said of a horse that has won five from eight over Saturday’s course and distance.
Add to that a narrow second in the Group Three Chinese Club Challenge Cup over 1,400m last season, and a closing fifth over 1,200m after being outpaced early in the Chief Executive’s Cup on opening day and Schofield is full of confidence.
“The horse is flying,” said the jockey, who rode the gelding in a nice piece of work on the dirt last Saturday. “Ricky is very happy with him, I think he is a horse that enjoys being fresh and that is what he is coming into this. I’m really looking forward to riding him.”
Packing Pins will carry 129 pounds on Saturday, not exactly an easy assignment for a horse whose rating has been boosted, despite not winning for nearly a year, by finishing close behind some highly-rated horses in feature events.
On the question of distance, Yiu said the first-up run was enough to rule out sprints in the future, but he hasn’t given up hope at a mile for the son of Pins and a solid showing Saturday will see the horse contest the Group Two Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy at 1,600m.
“Last season, he was third over that distance at Group One level,” Yiu said. “And I always thought a mile would end up being his best distance.”
Yiu reported that a step up in trip for Packing Pins will also help avoid a clash with stablemate talented stablemate Blizzard, whose campaign will now be aimed at December’s Group One Hong Kong Sprint, via runs at Group Two level in the Premier Bowl (October 23) and Jockey Club Sprint (November 20).
Also running for Yiu on Saturday is his one-time stable star Amber Sky, whose rating has dropped to the point where the seven-year-old will carry equal bottom weight of 113-pounds against just six rivals in the Group Three National Day Cup.
“It’s only a small field, and he will be out in front, or in the first three, so you never know,” Yiu said, with Keith Yeung Ming-lun booked to ride. “Even though we are getting 22-pounds off the top weight, I still think he (Peniaphobia) is going to be very hard to beat.”