Chris So Wai-yin is already having a career-best campaign but is hoping to keep his mid-season momentum going when Racing Supernova returns to 1,200m in Monday’s Nam Long Shan Handicap at Sha Tin.
So started this season with a bang, 17 wins from as many meetings keeping him near the top of the trainers’ standings through the first part of the term.
After a short lull, So has hit back hard of late, with 10 wins from the last seven meetings taking him to 43 for the season and fourth place behind John Size, John Moore and former boss Caspar Fownes in the championship.
Racing Supernova has won at 1,000m and 1,400m but has only raced over 1,200m twice at Sha Tin, finishing second and fourth late last season.
While So admits Racing Supernova and jockey Zac Purton will need some luck after drawing gate nine of 11, the trainer suggested his sprinter’s form is better than it looks on paper, particularly a last start sixth to Invincible Dragon in the Hong Kong Macau Trophy six weeks ago.
“I think he’s had no luck, with the draws and how the races have panned out,” So said. “He was on pace with the Macau horses last time and he came back a bit soft. He looks like he needs things to go his way – he has a turn of foot to dash, but he needs it to open up for him.
“That’s how I think he likes it, to track behind them, and then when it opens, dash. He needs that luck to fall right for him. A few times, he’s been stuck inside with nowhere to go, so that’s why I think he can still improve on what he’s shown so far.
“His rating is going up though and he’s been finding things very competitive at the 1,400m. He’s been jumping away slowly, but last time he jumped a lot better so I’ve put him in the 1,200 to see how he does.
“It’s a worry back in trip that he might jump slowly again but we have to take a chance. In his last run, Joao Moreira said he jumped very well but he found himself on the pace and he just stayed on one-paced.”
Now So’s second highest-rated horse returns to action in a competitive Class One following a sharp 1,050m all-weather track trial in which the son of Duporth looked revitalised.
“He’s pretty good at the moment and his last trial was quite impressive, he looked good,” So said.
Racing Supernova will face some quality opposition, most notably John Moore’s up-and-coming sprinter Magic Legend, a winner of three-from-three since arriving from Australia.
“He still looks to have untapped ability,” jockey Douglas Whyte said of the three-year-old. “We will still see the best of him later on, but he has already progressed very well so far.”
The addition of crossed nose band to the gelding’s gear last start proved the key to victory last start as Whyte was able to manoeuvre the raw talent to the fence.
“That made him that much easier for me to control, he got down to the rail and he was very tractable,” Whyte said. “That will help him as he takes on this quality of opposition, because now he’s at a level where he can’t be making the mistakes he was before.”
Looking to find some lost spark and on trial for a start in next month’s Group One Chairman’s Prize is Strathmore (Nash Rawiller), who was second in the race last year.
“He has to carry a big weight on Monday and there’s one young, up-and-coming horse in the race who has been impressive, but I’m happy with Strathmore,” his trainer Tony Millard said during the week.
“I think that he’s a class horse and we’d just like to see him come through now. I just wanted him to have a race where he can build his confidence so we decided to give him this run, just in a division race. If he runs well, we’ll certainly be going back to the Chairman’s Sprint Prize.”