He was reduced to a mere bystander in Beauty Generation’s stunning Longines Hong Kong Mile win in December but Peter Ho Leung has ensured Fifty Fifty will not face the same fate as the pair return to Group One racing this Sunday.
While the reigning Horse of the Year lines up in the Stewards’ Cup (1,600m), Ho is stepping Fifty Fifty back to the 1,200m of the Centenary Sprint Cup, and not only to dodge the all-conquering Beauty Generation.
“He’s the best horse in Hong Kong and I don’t think anyone can beat him in a mile race,” Ho said of Beauty Generation, adding that he believes the 1,200m was his best option, albeit not the perfect one.
“At this stage I believe [1,200m is best] because I tried him at the mile and he didn’t handle it. There is no 1,400m race for him so the only chance that I had to put him in a race is 1,200m.
“Earlier in the season he finished second behind the grey horse of John Size’s and that was his best performance this season, that is why I put him back to 1,200m.”
It was a Hot King Prawn in full flight that proved too good for Fifty Fifty on that occasion – in the Group Two Premier Bowl (1,200m) in October – but that horse is in the middle of an extended break and won’t be an issue come Sunday.
Instead, Fifty Fifty must tackle the first three finishers from the Hong Kong Sprint – Mr Stunning, D B Pin and Beat The Clock – and while Ho admits his six-year-old may not have the raw speed of some of his opponents, he is hopeful he can be right in the finish.
“He’s got speed, maybe not enough speed but he is a big fighter and I think he can stay behind the pace and then we will see how he finishes,” he said.
After bursting onto the scene with four wins in his first six starts, including victory in the Group Three Chinese Club Challenge Cup (1,400m) last January, Fifty Fifty produced two placings at Group One level before plateauing somewhat and the jury remains out on just how good he can be.
Star jockeys Gerald Mosse and James McDonald were unable to extract the best out of the six-year-old in his last two outings and the reins will be handed to another of the world’s best, with Australian Hugh Bowman jumping aboard.
“I hope that he can give the horse a little bit of help because this horse needs a strong jockey,” Ho said of the booking.
Fifty Fifty will jump from barrier two and Bowman can decide where he wants to be in a race that looks devoid of a natural leader in the absence of Hot King Prawn and Ivictory.
Bowman has picked up six rides on the day, reuniting with Beauty Only in the Stewards’ Cup after riding the Tony Cruz-trained veteran in the Hong Kong Mile.