Korea Sprint runner-up Fight Hero returns to the races at Sha Tin on Saturday as trainer Me Tsui Yu-sak sets the horse on what shapes as a precarious path to the Dubai World Cup on March 30.
Fight Hero far exceeded Tsui’s expectations with a gallant second on the sand in Seoul in early September, giving him confidence the seven-year-old can shine under the bright lights of Meydan.
“This performance was far better than I could have expected, I honestly thought that to win would be mission impossible,” Tsui said at the time.
But at a rating of 105, Tsui’s lead-up options are severely limited – especially when it comes to all-weather track races – so he will have his work cut out ensuring Fight Hero is ready to tackle the Dubai dirt come March.
“We will try to go to Dubai, I’m not 100 per cent sure which race but maybe the [Group One] Golden Shaheen [1,200m],” Tsui said.
“I will see how he goes. At the end of December there is a 80-105-rated race on the all-weather track over 1,200m, so I will see then how he has come back from Korea.”
Tsui will be hoping Fight Hero gives a better account of himself than the last Hong Kong horse to head to Dubai, with Chris So Wai-yin’s raid with the now-retired Classic Emperor earlier this year proving fruitless.
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
The trainer is considering racing Fight Hero in a Dubai World Cup Carnival meet three weeks before the main event after seeing him thrive away from the confines of Sha Tin during his last overseas jaunt.
“I was surprised, he was happier in Korea than in Hong Kong. He was very quiet, in Hong Kong he is not like that. Maybe the environment was more quiet for him,” Tsui said.
Tsui is realistic about Fight Hero’s chances in the Class One Panasonic Cup (1,400m) on Saturday, which features a host of handy types.
“I hope he can finish close,” Tsui said. “It’s his first start after coming back from Korea and 1,400m is better than 1,200m on the turf. For two or three months there is no suitable race for him on the dirt so I had no choice but to run him here.”
The gelding will line up against the likes of David Hall’s lightly raced Little Giant, the in-form Calculation – who is another who does his best work on the dirt – and Rattan, who has posted two seconds from two starts this season.
Little Giant stormed home to win at Class Two level in his only start this season, notching his third win from four starts in an injury-plagued career.
Little Giant, who is nominated for the Longines Hong Kong Sprint and Hong Kong Mile, steps up to the 1,400m for the first time and Hall is still trying to figure out which distance will suit the horse best.
He was withdrawn the day before the races when entered in a 1,400m event last November and after his most recent win, Hall said “obviously he can sprint like that over 1,200m, I’m sure he can get to 1,400m and he might have a mile in him”.