Time To Celebrate will be added to John Size’s armoury for the four-year-old series but Ping Hai Star will not, despite both producing astounding last-to-first wins to top off a treble for the champion yard at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Size left the fireworks until the second half of the card as Premiere (Karis Teetan) took the Bauhinia Sprint Trophy, then both Ping Hai Star and Time To Celebrate made mistakes at the start for Joao Moreira but still had their heads in front at the finish.
After failing as a leader at 1,600m last time, Ping Hai Star looked destined to be ridden back anyway this time over 1,400m, but he made sure of it by jumping left when the gates opened and he showed little enthusiasm for racing in the first 200m to be a clear last.
“He didn’t want to run but Joao has shaken him up and got him interested again and away he went,” Size said after the gelding had produced an explosive burst to score despite himself, then headed off any questions about whether the four-year-old would be among the Classic Mile entries when they close on Monday. “On that, you’d have to say he is just a sprinter.”
Nobody expected Time To Celebrate to be back with the cap catchers early though after he had led all the way on international day but he too made a mistake and Moreira went to Plan B that suited the race speed better anyway.
“He tried to charge at the gate just a split second before they opened, so then he was stepping back when they actually did open,” Moreira explained.
“So I had to ride him quietly and for luck but he was suited back there when the pace was very hard. John has improved this horse so much from when he first started here – I always thought he would win a few races but I didn’t think he would win them in a line like he has.”
Time To Celebrate joins John Size's #4YOCS team after winning the last at Sha Tin under Joao Moreira. Racing returns to Happy Valley on Wednesday night, where the feature is the G3 January Cup (1800m) #HKRacing pic.twitter.com/pYfNt1yRCD— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) January 7, 2018
Size said that Time To Celebrate would be among the Classic Mile entries but queried his class for the race.
“That takes him a little higher in the ratings so we’ll enter him in the good races. He’s a grinding type of horse but his win record tells you there must be some more to him – he’s won five out of 10 starts now in New Zealand and here and that’s not easy to do,” Size said. “So, we’ll take him toward those races and see if he is good enough. His rating suggests he hasn’t got a winning shot but maybe he can earn some prizemoney.”