Brett Prebble already had a couple of terrific chances in the upcoming big races but now the jockey merry-go-round has gifted him the gun ride on exciting staying prospect Eastern Express in Sunday’s Group Two Jockey Club Cup at Sha Tin.
Prebble had already locked-in likely Jockey Club Sprint favourite Lucky Bubbles and leading Jockey Club Mile contender Contentment, but the surprise booking on John Size’s rising star now gives the veteran genuine chances in all three international day lead-ups.
Leading jockey Joao Moreira gave up the ride on Eastern Express, after being aboard the four-year-old in two starts for two placings this season, and will instead ride Caspar Fownes-trained eight-year-old Military Attack.
“I don’t know why Joao has jumped off and I don’t mind, Eastern Express is a very good ride and I’m very happy,” Prebble said.
It isn’t the first time that Prebble has benefitted by jumping on a horse Moreira has rejected, Contentment winning a Group One for Prebble eariler this year after Size looked for a replacement for the champion Brazilian.
“John Size is good like that, and he is good to ride for too – if a horse doesn’t run well he doesn’t take you off either, they can’t win every time at that level, sometimes they can only win once a year, and John understands that,” Prebble said.
Prebble said the addition of blinkers would be of enormous benefit to Eastern Express as Size presses for a possible start in the Group One Hong Kong Vase on December 11 with ratings-boosting runs.
“The blinkers will really help him because the horse is just a big baby right now,” Prebble said. “He is tough and doesn’t want to lay down in races, but the blinkers might just give him that bit more concentration and bring him to the next level. He looks like he needs them and John has left it to the the right time to put them on.”
Lucky Bubbles’ win in the Group Two Premier Bowl confirmed the five-year-old’s place at the top of the pecking order for sprinters, but the horse Prebble fears most on Sunday is returning miler Able Friend, a horse that boasts what some consider a career-best win at the distance.
“Able Friend will be interesting, that might have been one of his best ever performances over the trip, but they went very fast in front,” he said. “I don’t think they are going to go that fast on Sunday, there’s only nine runners so that changes things around a lot. I can lead if I need to, so it doesn’t really worry me.”
What gives Prebble extra hope with Contentment after a disappointing last start failure is the seemingly weak nature of the local mile ranks.
“They are very much below what they normally are, there isn’t much depth there. You run them against each other every week and there would be a different winner every week,” he said.