Chater Thunder, a clutch of other surface specialists and an import who should appreciate a more forgiving surface form a strong David Ferraris-trained team at Wednesday night’s all-dirt meeting at Sha Tin.
Ferraris’ five horses all have a chance but it is Chater Thunder (Neil Callan) attracting most of the attention as the French-bred four-year-old chases three straight wins in the Class Four Wai Yip Handicap (1,800m).
A switch to the dirt and step up to 1,650m brought about two victories and even though they were by narrow margins, the 2017 Hong Kong International Sale graduate steps up to a trip that may be even more suitable.
“And he probably wants even further in time,” the South African trainer said. “It’s an ideal trip, there’s a lot of stamina in his pedigree.”
Despite the two wins, Chater Thunder seems well placed off a mark of 55, with his rating having dropped through five unplaced runs to start his career and then been protected by narrow winning margins.
“That handicapping helped him as he is only small. He might struggle to carry big weights but he is a brave little horse that tries very hard,” Ferraris said. “Now he is finding the right races and there aren’t too many good Class Four horses that can really stay like he can. I’m expecting a big run from him. He has drawn a good gate, which you need over this trip. He will be sitting just behind the leaders and he has a really good turn of foot.”
Massive Millennium (Joao Moreira), Hearts Keeper (Dylan Mo Hin-tung) and Elite Spirit (Callan) all bring consistent dirt form but have had their chances cruelled by bad barriers as they look for their first wins of the season.
“They are all on their optimal surface at their best trips but it will just take a little bit of luck from those barriers,” he said.
“Massive Millennium has had some issues at the start but last time Neil Callan got him out of the gates and he ran quite well. It’s a pity about the draw but we just hope he jumps well and isn’t too far back when they turn for home, because he will be running on.
“Hearts Keeper has won six races on the all weather – he really has a great record over the course and distance and he is always a threat – but he is right on his mark and that’s why we went with the claim.
“Elite Spirit just tends to get too far back because he never seems to pull a gate, and it’s the same story again tomorrow. He will be running on again but the question will be whether or not he can peg back the front-runners.”
Kiram (Matthew Chadwick) has had his career in Hong Kong marred by hoof problems and Ferraris hopes a switch to the dirt for the first time can bring the best out of the seven-year-old.
“He has hooves that don’t like the dry weather and we do struggle with him, so that’s why we wanted to try him on this softer surface. He definitely needed to pull a gate and he got one, so he will roll up and lead or sit handy. It’s his first run on the dirt but I think he will run really well, he gets through it well in the mornings.”