Hong Kong’s Fight Hero could only manage a courageous second in the Korea Sprint on Sunday but trainer Me Tsui Yu-sak thinks he has seen enough to warrant another overseas raid.
After jumping from the outside barrier, Fight Hero was forced to travel five-wide throughout but found plenty in the straight to push Japanese horse Moanin – the short favourite – all the way to the line, falling short by a nose on the deep Seoul sand.
“This performance was far better than I could have expected,” Tsui said. “With the wide draw and the track condition, which makes it hard for horses coming from behind, I honestly thought that to win would be mission impossible.
“But together, my stable team, the jockey and the horse almost made the impossible happen. I have finished second but it feels like I have won, I am so happy.
Full replay of the Korea Sprint, with Japanese galloper Moanin (Kanachiro Fujii) just edging out Hong Kong's Fight Hero (Derek Leung). Doraonpogyeongseon (Choi Se Dae) third for the locals, Chublicious (@TeamGeeMoney) fourth for the Americans #horseracing pic.twitter.com/jHo9nMCozT— Andrew Hawkins (@AndrewNJHawkins) September 9, 2018
“I will take him back to Hong Kong now and give him a little break, he obviously goes well fresh. There aren’t too many dirt races for him now with his rating but I will just see what comes up.
“I would love to take him to Dubai because he is a better 1,400m horse, he just finds the first 400m of a 1,200m race too fast. Now that he’s gone well on a deep surface, I am more keen to go to Meydan.”
Jockey Derek Leung Ka-chun spent the build-up to the race absorbing as much information as possible about how to handle the unique Seoul surface and it nearly paid the ultimate dividend.
“I’m so happy with the horse,” Leung said. “He jumped much sharper than before, he tried his heart out and I think that was the best he’s ever gone. It was just the gate, that’s all.
“We didn’t have much luck from the bad draw and it’s a shame that he was out there. In the race, on the corner, we bumped twice with the winner and they were quite serious bumps, especially the second time.
“That pressure meant that he couldn’t hold a position and he had no cover. I think just a little bit of cover could have allowed him to win the race but he still ran so well.”
Great Treasure added to a top day for Tsui by saluting at Sha Tin, romping home at long odds to take out the Class Four Shenzhen Handicap under Alberto Sanna, while Go Public was the icing on the cake with a last-to-first victory in race nine.
Great Treasure missed the jump and settled near the back in the run before rounding up the field in the straight.
“Everything was perfect for him, when I came out of the corner I really knew I had a good chance to challenge for the race,” Sanna said.
It was Sanna’s first winner for the season and the Italian hopes he can build on the success.
“Last season I had a full book every meeting and I rode 17 winners from March and it started to become interesting. I ran second in the QE II Cup and many placings in big races, so I was always there,” he said.
“When it came to this year I thought it would be easier because they knew I was working hard every day, but it was quite hard to even find some gallops in the morning. I believe if I get my opportunities I will be there.”