An eye-catching trial behind top early season performers Blizzard, Convincible and Seasons Bloom has jockey Derek Leung Ka-chun excited for the return of promising gelding Pingwu Spark.
The Benno Yung Tin-pang-trained five-year-old was narrowly beaten at his Hong Kong debut in June but it is that trial last month behind some classy types that stood out to Leung.
Pingwu Spark cruised up under a hold to finish fourth behind the HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup quinella of Seasons Bloom and Blizzard while Convincible further franked the form with a strong Class Two victory at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
“The trial was strong and the form has worked out,” Leung said. “The horses that finished around him are proven Class One or Class Two horses and two of them have already won this season.
“At that time he was still quite fat, being a big horse, so he needed that but he’s come on for it, he’s fresh and I think he will run well.
“He’s improving all the time. He’s a big horse, he’s about 1,300 pounds and he needs space to relax and find his rhythm. I’ve drawn one so hopefully he can jump fast, get out, and travel smoothly without too many horses around him.”
Pingwu Spark raced greenly in his Hong Kong debut while the race pattern didn’t suit either.
“He ran well on his first start, but after they crossed him they slowed the pace and he was a bit keen,” Leung said.
“He’s a horse with a big action, so I had to switch him out to get more room. The pace wasn’t suitable for him in that race, but he’s an honest horse, he always tries his best.
“He learned a lot from that experience and the way he feels in the morning, I think he’ll be suited by 1,400m or even a mile, but I think he can handle 1,200m first-up.”
Another to impress at the trials was Winner’s Way, who comfortably won a 1,200m hit-out on the all-weather track on August 29.
Star jockey Zac Purton was in the saddle on that occasion and thinks Tony Cruz’s five-year-old has come on from that.
“I thought his barrier trial was pretty good,” Purton revealed. “It was the first piece of serious work he’d done this season and he was always going to improve off it. He went out there and did his thing, and he seemed to be moving quite well.”
Winner’s Way impressed last season, winning four races and getting his rating up to 110 and he looks the likely favourite in today’s Class One Kwangtung Handicap Cup.
“He’s got the potential to take another step,” Purton said. “Whether he gets to that level, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
“He’d always shown that he had some ability and he’d been a bit erratic in his races and done some things wrong, but towards the end of last season he decided to start putting it together and when he does put it together he’s a decent horse.
“Whenever you get up in this grade they’re always competitive races and this one is no different. There are a few horses there with a bit of a chance and it’s just going to depend on how the race is run. I’m sure it’ll be a good finish.”