Patience has been the hallmark of Benno Yung Tin-pang’s style since getting his licence in 2013 and the trainer’s steady approach should pay off with a couple of carefully handled three-year-olds, Such A Happiness and Super Junior, on Sunday at Sha Tin.
It is no surprise that Yung has adopted a methodical approach, having served as assistant trainer under the tutelage of eight-time championship winner John Size.
Size’s style is to gently progress youngsters through a series of trials and never push horses too far out of their comfort zones early in their careers.
Such has been the pattern for Such A Happiness and Super Junior, who both step up in trip in contests that have a thinned-out look of many a late season race.
Such A Happiness has run well in four starts so far, two at 1,200m and the last two at 1,400m, closing strongly on each occasion, but the 1,600m of Sunday’s Class Four University Hall Handicap is perfect, at least at this stage.
Like most of New Zealand sire Savabeel’s progeny, Such A Happiness looks a middle distance horse in the making.
The best of Savabeel’s offspring in Hong Kong so far have needed 1,800m or further to show their best, with 2016 Hong Kong Derby runner-up Victory Magic and Group Three January Cup winner Flame Hero prime examples.
The way Such a Happiness got to the line last start, where he raced alongside eventual winner C P Power in the straight but couldn’t show the same dash, was evidence that now is the time to progress in trip.
Yung has gone for 10-pound claimers on four of his eight runners on Sunday and Matthew Poon Ming-fai’s allowance on Such A Happiness could be vital.
Such A Happiness has been a victim of his own consistency so far, his two runner-up finishes have caused him to creep up in the weights, with the gelding allotted second top weight on Sunday, but set to carry just 120 pounds after Poon’s claim.
Drawing barrier 14 on the C course is another blow, but Such A Happiness seems to race best from back in the field anyway and Poon has shown himself to be quite capable of riding back-markers.
The main rival to Such A Happiness could be another three-year-old that has also climbed the ratings without winning, and that has also drawn awkwardly, Infinity Endeavour (Joao Moreira).
Infinity Endeavour also has a strong staying pedigree, being out of Black Mamba, a mare that placed at the highest level over 2,000m and was eventually stretched to 2,400m.
Karis Teetan gave Infinity Endeavour every chance last start and the gelding will have to improve sharply on that to go one better this start.
After Super Junior finished unplaced on debut over 1,200m, Yung brought the typically well built son of Medaglia d’Oro back to 1,000m with great effect.
Super Junior scored a shock victory at 167-1 second-up in February and has ran well in two starts over the course and distance since.
First Strathclyde got the better of Yung’s horse before Super Junior bumped into another handy three-year-old, Size’s Ivictory.
Ivictory needed everything to catch Super Junior and has since franked the form with an impressive 1,200m win last weekend.
Now Super Junior is set to do the same after coming up with a gate two in the Class Three HKU Faculty Of Science Handicap.
On debut, Super Junior’s best asset, his speed, wasn’t utilised from a wide draw, but this time Chad Schofield should have the gelding placed perfectly in the run, just behind the speed.
This is Super Junior’s first time in Class Three, but with Schofield getting down to 115 pounds to ride, the sprinter looks well placed.