Hong Kong’s most admired horse Pakistan Star has fired a warning shot to any potential rivals this season, blitzing a quality field in a Sha Tin trial this morning.
The reigning Group One QE II Cup and Champions & Chater Cup winner showed no signs he had slowed up over the off season, returning to the track in fantastic order and comfortably going past fellow dual Group One winner Time Warp.
The eye-catching trial prompted jockey Karis Teetan draw comparisons to Hong Kong’s former favourite son Able Friend.
Teetan paired up with Able Friend four times for three victories over the course of his career, where he amassed more than HK$60 million in prize money.
“It was my first time sitting on him and he really gave me a good feel, unbelievable. I couldn’t believe how much power he has got underneath,” he said.
“He came out and he was so quiet. He jumps and does his own thing and at about the 500m – it was just an easy trial – I pulled him out and he just wanted to go past them. I got that feeling when I used to ride Able Friend.”
QEII Cup winner Pakistan Star (@KarisTeetan) and @LONGINES Hong Kong Cup victor Time Warp (@zpurton) returned to the track this morning, finishing first and fourth respectively in a 1200m dirt barrier trial at Sha Tin #HKRacing #HKIR pic.twitter.com/558TiDSMOf— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) September 28, 2018
Trainer Tony Cruz said he was “very happy” with the five-year-old, confirming he would be heading to the Group Two Sha Tin Trophy (1,600m) on October 21.
Pakistan Star showed no signs of his former sluggish starts, jumping quickly to sit just off the pace before comfortably rounding up the field while remaining under a tight hold from Teetan.
Teetan is more than comfortable to be starting first-up over the 1,600m trip next month, saying the horse has shown he is versatile enough to handle any challenges thrown at him.
“That’s the right race I think. He’s fresh now so the mile should be OK for him. He’s got some speed still,” he said.
“Before Tommy [Berry] won on him at his last start he trialled him and he was almost leading the trial, he’s got lots of speed.”
The career of Pakistan Star has been one twist after another, but he prevails on the biggest stage today as he takes the #QEIICup by a big margin for William Buick and Tony Cruz. Gold Mount second, Eagle Way third in a 1-2-3 for Hong Kong #HKChampionsDay #HKRacing pic.twitter.com/lbHkYeFjHG— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) April 29, 2018
Pakistan Star remains Hong Kong’s fourth-highest rated horse on 127 after 16 starts.
The enigmatic gelding produced one of the most dominant Group One performances of last season in the QE II Cup, where he was able to beat a classy field by three lengths before going on to blitz a smaller field in the Champions & Chater Cup as an odds-on favourite.
He looks to have put any concerns about his racing manners behind him after doubts surfaced when he refused to run towards the end of the 2016-17 season in the middle of a Group Three race.