It will be two years and one week since Pakistan Star’s dramatic debut when Kerm Din’s latest acquisition steps out for the first time and it seems Pakistan Friend shares some of his famous stablemate’s quirkiness.
Luckily Pakistan Friend, also an International Sale Griffin, can at least gallop, but the four-year-old’s also has a habit of throwing his head back when hit in the face with kickback, even on turf.
Tommy Berry, who rode Pakistan Star to victory in the Group One Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup, has ridden Pakistan Friend in each of his four trials and now gets aboard in the Class Four Tai Mong Tsai Handicap (1,400m).
“It’s strange, I’ve never had a horse do it before,” Berry said of the gelding’s high head carriage. “He really throws his head back when he gets in the kick back. He flicks his head around all the time.”
Berry said the decision to start off over 1,400m should allow the leggy son of Not A Single Doubt to be closer in the run and thus avoid the kickback.
“That could be the key, to be handier,” Berry said. “He is still pretty backward but he was getting home at the end of his trials. He is tall and lanky and covers the ground really well. His ability isn’t the question, the query is his attitude and how he will handle racing.”
Berry sticks with the Tony Cruz-trained import Stimulation in the Class Two Hoi Ha Handicap (2,000m) after Hong Kong racing’s first son of Deep Impact was a solid second on debut.
Now the four-year-old carries top weight in the race of the day against two other progressive four-year-olds, Insayshable and Glorious Forever.
“I wasn’t surprised what he did first-up because he was finding the line late in his trials after being beaten for speed,” Berry said. “His best is ahead of him and obviously he faces a much tougher field. Those three horses look like they are ready to step up to Group company next season, they are certainly heading in that direction. But my horse has drawn better than last time and that means he can sit a little handier. He is definitely a top three chance.”
Berry returns to Australia at the resumption of this season and wants to finish on a high and kicks off the third-last meeting of his current stint with victory aboard two-year-old Romantic Bonanza in the Yung Shue O Plate (1,200m).
Berry started the term as John Moore’s stable rider but after the arrangement didn’t pan out as expected the Australian switched to the role of club jockey mid-season and now has a respectable 18 winners.
Romantic Bonanza won at his second start last time out but was getting nine pounds off each of his six older rivals.
Now Danny Shum Chap-shing’s sprinter returns to the same course and distance conceding just two pounds to the seven three-year-olds in the race and carrying seven pounds more than the three other two-year-olds engaged.
“It’s a tough ask. He will be a nice horse next season, but hopefully he grows a little bit,” Berry said. “He is still a little bit weak and immature physically but what he did last time was just pure ability. It’s hard to get a gauge on how he is going from trackwork but you can see from his trial that he has definitely taken some improvement and he will be competitive.”