Neil Callan is hoping a step up in trip and the removal of blinkers can help compensate for a wide barrier when My Winner tackles the Class Four Fakei Cup (1,400m) at Sha Tin on Saturday.
The Ricky Yiu-trained four-year-old finished fourth when he resumed as a $2.9 favourite a fortnight ago (only beaten a length-and-a-quarter) but Callan thinks it’s time to take off the shades.
“He’s a nice horse – his first few races he was a bit dumb and I was suggesting to put the blinkers on to teach him,” Callan said.
“It wasn’t that he was ungenuine, it was just to learn a bit faster than he was. Unfortunately, I got suspended and he ran with the blinkers on with Nash [Rawiller] and he was impressive – he won quite well [in April].
“I got on him after that and I rode him a couple of times and I just felt, as he developed through last season, it was time to take the blinkers off and step him up to 1,400m.
“He didn’t run too bad his first run but I think now is the right time to step him up to 1,400m and take the blinkers off him.”
Callan is confident the gelding of eight starts has taken a step forward, but his biggest challenge is barrier 13.
“The gate is a bit tricky but there’s a lot of go-back horses in the race and there’s quite a few speed horses around me,” he said.
“We’ll have to see how he jumps and see what Ricky thinks and play it by ear. If he jumps well, we’ll go forward and slot in somewhere, if not we’ll have to ride a race.”
The Fakei Cup looks a strong race on paper with Pakistan Friend, Sam’s Love, Have Fun Together, Impeccable Fellow, A Beautiful and Fortunate Runner all having legitimate claims.
The Richard Gibson-trained Impeccable Fellow was scratched at the gates during the opening meeting of the season and jockey Chad Schofield thinks he can bounce back.
“It wasn’t really his fault, the horse next to him played up and set him off and he got his leg over the side and it was there for about 30 seconds and they had to scratch him,” Schofield said.
“He’s not really a nasty horse so it was one of those things. He’s trialled well since, he’s drawn well – it looks a strong race but he can be right there.”
Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s Have Fun Together has been a bit of a money muncher for punters in his nine starts, starting between $2.1 and $5.3 in eight of them but is yet to record a win.
However, he has come second on three occasions and has landed the inside alley and the services of champion jockey Zac Purton.
“He has trialled well, but he is not always an easy horse to ride,” Purton said.
“He can be a bit tricky from the gates, but if he jumps well and lands in the right spot he can be right there.”