The Caspar Fownes-trained Mega Red wouldn’t be your archetypal 1,000m sprinter but the lightly raced six-year-old has the talent to spring a surprise down the straight in the Chinese Recreation Club Challenge Cup at Sha Tin on Saturday.
When you think about 1,000m horses, you’re thinking about horses that fly along in the lead, a wing on every foot, but that won’t be the case with Mega Red (Karis Teetan), who will be coming from somewhere in the back of the field and looking to swamp the speedsters late.
Of course, in this 1,000m race, he won’t be on his own, as two others who will have admirers – Archippus and My Little Friend – are also lifetime back-markers and still managed to win six of 24 races over the course between them.
Mega Red has had his issues and that’s why he has had just nine lifetime starts, two in Australia and seven here, and has been out of the placings only three times in all and only twice in Hong Kong.
Last season, his physical issues, which include internal bleeding, meant that he had only three race appearances for two wins and a second and all on the dirt.
The most recent was after transferring to Caspar Fownes in May and Mega Red stormed home to win comfortably on the line in a fast-run dirt sprint in Class Two to confirm that he is above average, provided he remains in one piece.
Fownes has not trialled him, keeping Mega Red for race day and horses with bleeding problems often produce their best runs fresh this way.
Perhaps the switch back to the turf track is the query. Mega Red showed promise in his first four starts in Hong Kong on the turf before a tendon injury in July last year. Since then, his previous trainer, Francis Lui Kin-wai, and subsequently Fownes, have only run the horse on the dirt but if he brings his game over to the main track, Mega Red will be hitting the line hard.
His main dangers make for an interesting side story, the John Size-trained Premiere (Joao Moreira) and Size’s former horse, now with Frankie Lor Fu-chuen, Country Melody (Brett Prebble).
Country Melody ran well for third at Happy Valley first-up for Lor and, although drawn poorly, is capable in a race like this with good speed on.
Premiere will be part of that speed along with Adventurer, whose style is to run strongly up front from the start and dare rivals to run him down. Despite the aggressive pattern, he has won four and finished second three times over Saturday’s course, so getting him down is not that easy.