Hong Kong-owned sprinter Redkirk Warrior will skip Sha Tin on his way to Royal Ascot but the snub has nothing to do with the logistical puzzle posed by the quarantine situation centred around the Conghua training centre.
Redkirk Warrior was bred along staying lines and a beaten favourite in the 2015 Hong Kong Derby but on Saturday continued his remarkable reinvention as a champion sprinter Down Under with a second Group One Newmarket Handicap victory.
A shot at the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes on June 23 is now on the cards for the three-time Group One winner but owners have decided against a stop over at Sha Tin for the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize on April 29.
“He will miss Hong Kong,” trainer David Hayes said. “I thought the owners might want to go but they have a theory that he isn’t as good around a right turn as he is up the straight.”
Hayes campaigned Criterion in England after a stopover at Sha Tin to finish third in the 2015 Audemars Piguet QE II Cup and planned to do the same with the seven-year-old.
“I would have loved to give a horse of that quality, especially an ex-Hong Kong horse, a chance to compete there,” he said. “It’s a shame but it is still exciting to be heading back to Royal Ascot.”
The current ban on direct horse exports from Hong Kong to Australia would have meant Redkirk Warrior would be required to spend at least six months overseas after competing at Sha Tin, making preparation for the rich races at the 2018 spring carnival in Melbourne problematic.
“Sure, it was a logistical issue to find the best way home with him, but that wasn’t the sticking point,” Hayes said. “We were all right with that part of it.”
Redkirk Warrior was bought as a staying prospect after winning a 2,000m handicap at Ascot in 2014 and will contest a marquee sprint at the same racetrack nearly four years later on one of racing’s biggest days.
In between that first win and Saturday’s success, Redkirk Warrior was at the centre of a high profile running and handling case featuring Gerald Mosse, beaten a nose in a Hong Kong Classic Cup and failed as favourite under Joao Moreira in the Derby.
Transferred from Chris So Wai-yin to Hayes’ sprawling, high-quality facility in Australia, Redkirk Warrior was reinvented as a sprinter and broke a 100-year record by winning the Newmarket Handicap first-up last year.
“It’s a remarkable story and he is an incredible horse,” Hayes said. “He won for us over 1,500m in his first preparation, but you get him on dry ground and he can do anything, he is just so reliable.”