Trainer Peter Ho Leung believes Limitless is still a long-term proposition but the Britannia Stakes winner still booked a place in the BMW Hong Kong Derby with a decisive Class Two win.
Ho said the expensive purchase, rumoured to have cost first-time owner Chua Hwa-por in excess of £1 million [HK$9.63 million], would now head straight to the HK$18 million feature on March 19.
Even though Limitless won over 1,400m on Sunday, Ho believes the son of Lope de Vega won’t have any issues getting 2,000m in time, but his headstrong temperament and racing manners make the gelding a work in progress.
“He isn’t an easy horse to train and we need to put a lot of work into him in the mornings between now and the Derby,” Ho said.
“That’s why it took him so long to get to the races the first time, he has his own character, he thinks he is the boss. We’ve tried to ease him down because he just wants to go too hard.”
After Limitless travelled too keenly last start for Derek Leung Ka-chun, Ho sent the horse back to the trials on Tuesday, with the horse settling nicely behind a bunch of top line horses led by Able Friend.
Then on Sunday, Silvestre de Sousa was instructed to drop the horse back from barrier 14 before the Brazilian drove through a needle-eye gap along the fence in the straight.
“I entered him at 1,400m because he is still not 100 per cent and that’s why I told Silvestre to not put him in the race too early. Even though he jumped quick, he pulled him back to the tail, and we saw the way he could finish off. Zoom. Like a rocket, he showed he was of a different class today.”
Limitless was only rated 85 heading into the South Wall Handicap but Ho said he was “sure” handicapper Nigel Gray would find a place for his horse in the Derby.
“I’ve got no doubt about his quality, or the Derby distance,” Ho said. “As a Britannia Stakes winner I think he deserves his place there. Still, whatever he does in the Derby will be a bonus and he will be an even better horse next year.”
What Ho wasn’t so sure about was who would ride Limitless in the big one, given de Sousa is committed to Classic Cup runner-up Pakistan Star, but the trainer wasn’t expecting to be short of options for an in-form horse.
“Brett Prebble rode the horse early on in a trial, so I hope he can ride, as some experience on this horse will make a big difference,” Ho said.