A pair of classy John Size three-year-olds return to the races at Happy Valley on Thursday night three weeks on from dominant wins at the city track.
Country Star steps out in the Class Three Waratah Handicap (1,200m), while Red Warrior lines up in another Class Three – the Roselle Handicap (1,650m).
Zac Purton rides both horses, who have had identical careers to date after both finishing fourth on debut on September 5 before scoring their maiden Hong Kong victories on the same night three weeks later.
Size says he will know more about where Country Star and Red Warrior are headed after Thursday.
Country Star looks a horse with plenty of potential after scoring a dominant win under @zpurton in R4 at Happy Valley. It was the first win this season for reigning Champion Trainer, John Size #HKRacing #HappyWednesdayHK pic.twitter.com/Muxr2vUI50— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) September 26, 2018
“They’ll get a more difficult assignment next start and then we’ll see where they are going,” he said after the pair landed their debut wins.
Country Star will face strong opposition as he looks to replicate his three-and-a-quarter length victory over 1,200m late last month, with Brazilian Group One winner Salto Olimpico and the promising Little Bird headlining a strong field.
Country Star jumped 11 points in the ratings on the back of his Class Four success and will get every chance to make it back-to-back wins carrying only 120 pounds from barrier four.
He impressed in a trial last week, finishing within two lengths of star sprinters Ivictory and Hot King Prawn.
His debut win was franked by the performance of Blitzing at Sha Tin on the weekend, who finished third behind Country Star three weeks ago before winning on Saturday.
The return of Salto Olimpico will also draw plenty of attention, with the five-year-old finally breaking through for his first victory at his most recent start in July.
The David Hall-trained gelding showed signs he has become more comfortable in Hong Kong after a slow start to life here saw him finish 10th or worst in eight of his first nine starts.
Salto Olimpico’s Group One win came at 2,000m and his Hong Kong victory was at the 1,800m, so Thursday night’s race is likely to be on the short side, but Hall will be hoping he shows more positive signs.
Last-start winner Fantastic Feeling will carry top weight of 132 pounds, while Buoyant Boy will be looking to make it three wins on the trot and will benefit from the 10-pound claim of apprentice Victor Wong Chun, who climbs aboard for the first time.
Beauty Time and Grade One are having their first starts of the season after spending time at Conghua, with the latter one of five starters for Paul O’Sullivan on the night as he looks to build on his first success of the season on Saturday.
Red Warrior meets Amazing Satchmo again in the penultimate event of the night, with the David Ferraris-trained four-year-old filling second spot behind Red Warrior last time out.
Amazing Satchmo meets Red Warrior six pounds better off and will again have the services of Karis Teetan, who sits just one win behind Purton in the race for the jockeys’ championship.