He has recently taken on one of the most closely followed horses in Hong Kong but affable trainer Paul O’Sullivan says he does not feel any extra pressure racing Pakistan Star.
The social media sensation will have his first start for his new handler after the high-profile stable move from Tony Cruz earlier this year but O’Sullivan maintains he is flying blind until he sees what his new galloper can produce on the track.
The six-year-old lines up in the Group Two Chairman’s Trophy (1,600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday in a race that is a stepping stone to both the Group One’s Champions Mile (1,600m) and QE II Cup (2,000m) in three weeks.
“Pakistan Star was going terrible, if he continues to go terrible well there is nothing lost,” O’Sullivan said, alluding to his best finish of just fourth this season after securing back-to-back Group Ones at the end of last season.
The enigmatic gelding turned in a barrier trial as strong as ever last week under inaugural jockey Matthew Chadwick when he powered home over the top of Group-level sprinters California Whip and Winner’s Way.
However, O’Sullivan said he had been around long enough to not get carried away with strong barrier trials.
“He is fit and well, we have just got to see how he goes because with any transfer horse you don’t know too much about them until you race them once or twice,” he said.
“His trial was good but he is a habitual trial winner, he has got to take that form to race day.
“If he was a horse I knew nothing about and was going to have a run I would say his trial was strong and he should be competitive, but his race form has been way below what he is capable of.”
With his last Group-level horse Aerovelocity retiring in 2017, it has been almost two years between saddling up a horse at the top level for O’Sullivan.
“That is one of the great things you miss about training in New Zealand and Australia with 60 new horses coming in each year, you know three of them are Group One winners, just by law of averages,” he said.
“Hong Kong is Hong Kong and we are very appreciative to be here, but it is good to get a nicer class of horse.”
Even with the renewed optimism surrounding Pakistan Star, O’Sullivan knows they are up against a juggernaut in Beauty Generation.
With his premier events set to be the QE II Cup and the Champions & Chater Cup (2,400m) later in the season, the Kiwi trainer just wants to see a glimpse of Pakistan Star’s former glory.
“Every horse is there to win but if he could just switch off and make good ground you’d go away very happy,” he said.
The weekend was set to be a bumper one for O’Sullivan but it has started on a disappointing note with the scratching of exciting three-year-old Chicken Dance.
The son of Hinchinbrook is the headline act from the stable’s promising batch of young horses but was withdrawn by stewards after recording an elevated temperature on Thursday afternoon.