Paul O’Sullivan has endured an unlucky campaign so far but Wednesday night’s all-dirt meeting at Sha Tin might spark a late season turnaround with Glenealy Prize one of a host of good chances for the stable.
With more than two thirds of the term gone and 28 meetings remaining, O’Sullivan has 17 winners, still well short of the 50 wins he tallied in 2016-17.
While a hangover this season was probably inevitable, many of O’Sullivan’s horses have been racing well without winning, with a disproportionate number of seconds and thirds, particularly during a dry spell that stretched from the start of January until late February.
O’Sullivan went without a win from January 1 to February 26, and in between had 11 horses finish runner-up, many by agonisingly small margins, and his 65 minor placings this season is second only to championship leader John Size.
Glenealy Prize was another second placegetter at the last all-weather track meeting on March 1 and the huge chestnut returns to 1,800m, better equipped to handle the distance according to jockey Brett Prebble.
“He is a big, heavy horse and when I rode him for the first time three starts back over 1,400m, I thought he would come on for that,” Prebble said.
“I thought he would nearly win next start, but he was disappointing. He is such a big boy that I think he jarred up a bit, I felt he needed some give in the ground so Paul suggested we try him on the all-weather.”
That move nearly paid off immediately with a second to front-runner Works Of Art and Glenealy Prize returns with his bodyweight down 18 pounds to a relatively lean 1,258 pounds – the lightest the son of Battle Weight has weighed since his first two starts.
“That first time going 1,800m might have just taken its toll over the last part of the race, and now, with that run under his belt and the experience, he should be better,” Prebble said.
“He obviously isn’t a sprinter, and what he was doing early in his career when he won over 1,200m on debut, he was just doing on pure ability.
“He was doing a lot wrong back then, and he went through a stage where the races just seemed too sharp for him, but now I think there is some room for him to improve.”
Another of O’Sullivan’s horses getting his groove back of late is Friends Of Ka Ying, who arrived via stable transfer during the off season and snapped a run of poor form when charging home on the dirt just over three weeks ago.
That was with 119 pounds in Class Two and now Friends Of Ka Ying gets into an extended band Class Three with top weight and Neil Callan to ride in the Lung Hang Handicap.
O’Sullivan saddles up seven runners in total, with his former apprentice and now in-form jockey Derek Leung Ka-chun riding three decent each-way chances in Pearl Furu, Goal For Gold and Harrier Jet.