One of Hong Kong’s most powerful racing families will take a three-pronged attack into Happy Valley’s premier race on Wednesday night.
The famous red and black colours of the Siu family will be represented by Tony Cruz’s Time Warp, John Moore’s Eagle Way and John Size’s Dinozzo in the Group Three January Cup (1,800m) as the trio face-off with distinctly different racing styles.
Track-record holder Time Warp is all but certain to roll along in front, adopting a “catch me if you can” mantra, while Eagle Way will run on from the rear of the field, hoping for a strong tempo.
After a strong run in last month’s Group One Hong Kong Cup behind full brother Glorious Forever, champion jockey Zac Purton has no doubt about Time Warp’s class, but admits he has his “quirks” which see him sometimes falter.
He hopes a return to Happy Valley, where he has not raced for 560 days, could ignite the fire again for the dual Group One winner.
“He set the track record there, so I don’t think that’s a problem, but we have to give weight away so I will just let him bowl along and let him enjoy it,” he said. “Under lights, he might improve thinking he’s on the big stage again.
“He’s a quirky horse, he was challenged last season and fought them all off so he can do it if he wants to do it.”
While Eagle Way is yet to break through for a Group One win in Hong Kong after winning the 2016 Queensland Derby in Australia, he has been a model of consistency, with Moore convinced he has turned a corner this season.
With jockey Silvestre de Sousa in the saddle, Eagle Way produced a devastating turn of foot to break the 2,000m track record at Sha Tin in November, marking him as a serious contender for December’s Hong Kong Vase (2,400m).
He ran an unlucky fourth on that occasion and De Sousa is under no illusions that his horse needs further improvement if he is to go back-to-back in Wednesday night’s race.
“He ran a great race last time, things maybe didn’t go his way. It was a very fast tempo early on and they slowed it down and he just got caught flat-footed,” he said.
“Now it’s a different scenario going back to Happy Valley – he’s won on the course so the expectation is big.
“We’ve got Time Warp in there and Zac [Purton] is a top rider, he rides the course very well, but we’ll give our best on the night. He feels good, he feels 100 per cent already, but to win we need 110.”
After winning in Group Three company last season, Dinozzo has struggled to find his feet, running no better than third in his 12 starts since.