Trainer Paul O’Sullivan will unveil the first of a new wave of potential stable stars on Wednesday as he looks to launch into the second half of the season.
The New Zealander has struggled this season with a host of horses at the peak of their ratings, compounded by the death of budding stable star Win Beauty Win in a freak stable accident in September, but has always maintained that his second half would be more fruitful than his first.
With two winners in two meetings, O’Sullivan is beginning to make good on the promise and is looking to keep the ball rolling on Wednesday night.
Now at nine winners, O’Sullivan will debut his promising four-year-old Band Of Brothers in the Class Four Shing Yip Handicap (1,200m) and is hoping to have an immediate impact.
While it will be the New Zealand export’s first race, he comes to Happy Valley a fit horse on the back of four barrier trials.
“I like to get them fit early on so it doesn’t hurt them when they race,” he said. “There is nowhere to hide in Hong Kong when you go to the races.
“Back in New Zealand and Australia, you race against horses the same age, similar amount of fitness levels and similar education. Here you have to have them a little bit more forward if you can.”
Band Of Brothers will get the services of red-hot jockey Zac Purton but has been dealt a blow, drawing barrier nine for his debut run.
Purton has ridden the horse in his barrier trials and has raced forward on each occasion, giving O’Sullivan the impression he likes to race on the speed.
While O’Sullivan has high hopes for the debutant, he said he would not force the issue too quickly.
“He’s pretty green but he is a hell of a good type, I think he will acquit himself pretty well in Hong Kong,” he said.
“I would have liked to have drawn six or under then we could have used some of that speed, nine is sometimes fast enough to get yourself into trouble.
“I think he will come to hand pretty quickly. They generally take a few runs to work out what they’re doing. Aerovelocity I gave three or four runs in his first season and he didn’t win one then he came out the next one and won seven from eight.
“You have to get them out and going somewhere and I don’t think it matters too much if it’s Sha Tin or Happy Valley.”
O’Sullivan will also bring last-start winner Oriental Elite to the races for the first time this season after he has struggled with the firm Sha Tin track.
The five-year-old has been at Conghua since November in the hope the new facility in mainland China can revitalise his career.