Pingwu Spark’s Hong Kong Mile campaign is off to an inauspicious start after stumbling and losing a plate in a barrier trial at Sha Tin on Friday morning.
Some of Hong Kong’s big-name horses made their first appearance of the season during the session on the all-weather track, including Group One winners Ivictory and Beauty Only as well as talented types Nothingilikemore, Montreal and Hot King Prawn.
Pingwu Spark, who won five of his first six races last season to graduate to Group One company, finished ninth in his trial – beaten 17-and-a-quarter lengths – and trainer Benno Yung Tin-pang wasn’t thrilled with what he saw.
“Around the turn he stumbled and pulled his shoe off so that’s why he didn’t finish as well as he should,” Yung said.
“We have planned to have his first race on October 1, but we’ll have to see how he pulls up and see if there is any damage. Hopefully it is OK – this should be his best season of racing.”
Most of the big names were having a quiet time of things as they blew out the cobwebs, but Karis Teetan enjoyed the session more than most as he got to partner Classic Mile winner Nothingilikemore and boom sprinter Hot King Prawn.
“Now I know how Joao [Moreira] used to feel,” Teetan said with a smile. “They’re really nice horses and it’s nice to be able to ride them.”
John Size’s duo are also heading towards the Hong Kong International Races and Teetan was particularly taken by Nothingilikemore’s work.
“It was just an easy trial for him, John didn’t want him to do much but the horse is feeling healthy,” he said. “It felt like he was ready to go.
Ivictory had a quiet time of it, finishing five lengths behind Baltic Whisper in third, while Nothingilikemore was a further three lengths back.
Caspar Fownes’ Montreal looked good winning his heat, beating Hot King Prawn by a length-and-a-half.
More big names will hit the track in Saturday morning’s barrier trials at Happy Valley, including Hong Kong Derby hero Ping Hai Star, Classic Cup champ Singapore Sling and Group One winner Seasons Bloom.