Happy Valley’s staying races are notoriously tricky and tactical affairs but Karis Teetan is ready for anything on the David Ferraris-trained Sangria as the consistent type returns to the city circuit.
With an awkward starting point in the back straight and three turns, 2,200m contests at the Valley can often be run at a muddling pace and the stop-start tempo can entice jockeys into making daring mid-race moves.
Throw in a few horses stretched beyond their normal distance limits and it can create a recipe for unpredictable speed maps and place a paramount on a jockey’s race awareness.
“You have to know what is going on around you, sometimes they go slow in front in these races and you have to be ready when your rivals make those mid-race moves,” Teetan said.
The withdrawal of Giant Turtle, reducing the field to just six horses, only adds to the tactical intrigue.
“It’s looking like a European race,” Teetan said of a contest containing an eclectic mix of pedigrees including the Spanish-bred Sangria, Argentinian Derby winner Goldfield and French-bred Italian Derby victor Super Chic.
Even Sangria’s stablemate McQueen ran in a New Zealand Derby and Australian-bred import Willie Way is from a strong staying family, being a son of Australian Oaks winner Dizelle (who pedigree spotters would recognise as a half-sister to Ferraris’ former champion stayer Vengeance Of Rain).
Sangria might be the odd one out, with his form in France limited to sprints, but since dropping down to Class Four the five-year-old has found his niche at a mile and further.
After breaking through over 1,800m at Happy Valley in January, Sangria has finished top-four at his past four starts, including a strong second to General Sherman over 2,000m at Sha Tin last time out.
Even though 2,200m might seem like a test of stamina for Sangria, Teetan said the step up in trip comes at an ideal time.
“Actually, the distance is perfect for him,” he said. “Last time over 2,000m I had to get into him early to get him moving. He is getting stronger and more mature, and he has won at the Valley.”
While Connie Siu Kim-ying races Sangria, it is another horse carrying a variation of her prominent racing family’s black-and-red-striped silks, Super Chic, that looms as the likely favourite.
Edmond Siu Kim-ping will be hoping Super Chic can reproduce the form that brought about an impressive course and distance victory two starts back.
Super Chic’s jockey Zac Purton heads into the meeting three wins behind suspended rival Joao Moreira in the jockeys’ championship and seemed confident of his chances on the Tony Cruz-trained five-year-old.
“This is his trip, he handles it no problems and races like this are suitable for him,” Purton said.
“He’s drawn well, it’s only a small field so he gets his opportunity to show us what he’s made of once again.”