The turn of the year will see reigning champion trainer John Size on top of the title race for the first time this season after a treble at Sha Tin on Tuesday that could have been more and left him with a Classic Mile hopeful and a Derby question mark.
The Size-trained House Of Fun was part of a Joao Moreira treble when he put almost six lengths between himself and the runner-up in a surprising Class Three win, then sprinter D B Pin (Zac Purton) continued his upward progress in the eighth before the Magic Man closed the handler’s trio out with My Darling, who may be headed for a Classic Mile appointment.
“This preparation, in Class Two, he has struggled a little bit, and probably today too, he struggled to win,” Size said. “But a Class Two win is always pretty good as a four-year-old, that’s hard to get. Maybe I’ll try him at the 1,600m, I’m not sure. His pedigree says he can run a mile so he’d have to have an attempt at some stage.”
Moreira, whose other win came earlier in the day aboard Pakistan Star, said he felt My Darling was worth his place in the first of the four-year-old classics but didn’t put his hand up to ride him.
“He’s a classy horse and to me it wouldn’t be a surprise if he went and won it,” he said. “He is a strong, mature and experienced horse and, if I was John, I would run him. I think he will handle a mile but beyond that distance I would have my doubts.”
D B Pin took his record to three wins from five actual starts – not to mention the no-race in which he hacked up as well – with the wins all coming over 1,000m.
“He is fairly push button, he’ll have to go around a turn and go to 1,200m shortly but I am not too worried about him handling that,” the trainer said. “He goes through his gears and gets his job done without a lot of fuss and is putting together a nice record.”
On a day when winners posted clear margins for much of the afternoon, House Of Fun took the cake with his victory, spreadeagling the field after getting a soft trail behind a good speed.
“He didn’t have to waste any energy today getting into a spot, it happened easily and left him with plenty at the finish,” Size said.
The treble took Size past Chris So Wai-yin by one to lead the premiership race into 2017 on 27 victories.
The newest recruit in the jockeys’ room, Frenchman Alexis Badel, denied Size and Moreira each a fourth win for the afternoon when he landed his first Hong Kong success at his 25th ride with Supreme Profit, who held off the favourite Dinozzo.
“I had spoken to a few of the French jockeys who have ridden here and I knew it would not be easy – I was ready for it,” said Badel, who is here until the end of January. “We had some luck today, the favourite didn’t have the best run in the race, but I’m very happy to get a winner. I have no targets, I just want to enjoy the experience and hope I ride winners.”
Dinozzo got shuffled back at a vital stage approaching the home straight and was unable to reel Supreme Profit back in. He is of Derby age but both Size and Moreira admitted that sort of assignment might come a little too quickly to see him in the mix.
“He is very inexperienced – just one run overseas and only three here before today and he’s definitely got something but I think we probably won’t see it until next season,” Size said.