Pakistan Friend might not be able to reach the lofty heights of his stablemate Pakistan Star, but he showed he has plenty of upside after a barnstorming debut at Sha Tin on Sunday.
After a moderate start, Tony Cruz’s three-year-old dropped out to last and stormed home down the straight – the style of the win earning plenty of comparisons to how the two-time Group One winner raced early in his career.
On the turn, you didn’t want to be on Pakistan Friend, who was racing greenly, resented the kickback and kept getting his head up.
But once jockey Tommy Berry balanced him up in the straight and found some clear running, raw ability took over and Pakistan Friend grew wings, flying over the top to edge out Enjoy Life and Endearing.
Pakistan Friend does what Pakistan Star did, stepping from the March Hong Kong International Sale to a deep-closing debut win at Sha Tin in July for owner Kerm Din. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/p54YGgIuu7— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) July 8, 2018
The gelding’s final 400m section was a lightning 22.60 seconds, almost half a second quicker than Enjoy Life, who was the second-fastest finisher in the race.
The small margin of victory will also help Pakistan Friend next time out, as the handicapper only put him up six points to 58, meaning he will get another crack in Class Four.
There are plenty of similarities between Pakistan Friend and Pakistan Star – they both have their quirks, were bought through the Hong Kong International Sale, share the same colours and race in a similar manner – but it seems like that is more coincidence than anything as fundamentally, they should be completely different horses.
Pakistan Star is by Shamardal, was bred to northern hemisphere time and bought out of the 2014 Arqana Deauville Yearling Sale while Pakistan Friend was bred in Australia by Not A Single Doubt and bought out of the 2016 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.
Pakistan Star is a stayer and while it is yet to be proven what Pakistan Friend’s best trip will be, the progeny of Not A Single Doubt tend to do their best work up to a mile (although there are exceptions).
In any case, Pakistan Friend should relish the time off and can come back bigger and stronger next season.
“He is only going to get better,” Berry said.