Strange horse names are a dime a dozen in Hong Kong and they’ve been coming thick and fast of late, with the likes of Uncle Steve and Reeve’s Muntjac debuting recently, and Fat Turtle joins the list at Happy Valley on Wednesday.
The four-year-old son of Smart Missile has his first start in the Class Three Matheson Handicap (1,200m) and trainer Frankie Lor Fu-chuen said the gelding has been getting special treatment in the stable on the back of his unique title.
“It’s a good name, right?” Lor laughed. “I don’t know why the owners called him that, it’s certainly different. Normally in the stable we just call them by their numbers but this one is fat tortoise, fat tortoise.”
Fat Turtle made the move to Hong Kong after three wins from six starts in Australia, the last of those which came at Randwick under star Australian jockey Hugh Bowman, who rides Furore for Lor in Sunday’s BMW Hong Kong Derby.
“Hugh rode him at his last run, maybe I’ll ask him about the horse,” said Lor.
Fat Turtle won at 1,200m and 1,600m in Australia when known as Butchoy and trained by Mack Griffith.
The horse has trialled three times since arriving at Sha Tin in October, winning the last two of those and also showing something in a fourth-placed finish in a Happy Valley trial.
“He looks good. He trialled at Happy Valley and he looked impressive,” Lor said.
Zac Purton has been aboard for all three of those trials and stays with the horse for Wednesday night’s race, which looks poised to be a willing contest featuring a host of in-form horses.
The Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained Alcari and Richard Gibson’s Loving A Boom come in off the back of last-start seconds at the course and distance, while Tony Millard’s Sparkling Dragon and the Peter Ho Leung-trained Split Of A Second both finished third in their most recent runs and have saluted this season.
Alcari has been threatening to break through and was on the wrong end of last Wednesday’s feel-good story, flashing home but falling just short of High Five, who delivered Martin Harley his first Hong Kong winner.
Grant van Niekerk remains on Alcari and the horse looks well placed to have every chance from barrier two.
Fat Turtle is not the only first starter in the race, with Jimmy Ting Koon-ho saddling up four-year-old Ballistic King, a son of Commands who won once from six starts in New Zealand.
Ballistic King will have a tough initiation to life in Hong Kong, jumping from barrier 12, however he showed enough in his most recent trial to indicate he has settled in OK.
Dylan Mo Hin-tung takes the ride and needs only one more winner to graduate from the Apprentice Jockeys’ School after he took his tally to 69 with victory aboard Hay Run at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Mo has only two rides on Wednesday night, also partnering the Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained Winwin Ruby in the Class Four Jardine Handicap (1,650m).