Champion’s Way proved he is the real deal as he recorded his fifth-straight victory at Sha Tin on Sunday despite having every right to throw in the towel.
John Size’s star three-year-old never looked comfortable on the “good to yielding” surface with jockey Joao Moreira niggling him throughout, making the punters who backed him at $1.85 understandably nervous.
Champion’s Way faced a huge task at the top of the straight, still half-a-dozen lengths from the leaders, who were going strong, but he knuckled down for the challenge, overhauling the honest Good Standing with 75m to go, eventually winning by a comfortable length and a quarter.
It was something to behold.
“Only Group horses do it and if they don’t get an injury they go on,” Size said. “He’s a very nice three-year-old.”
To provide an insight into his mindset as the race unfolded, Size watched the replay and explained what he was thinking at different stages.
When Moreira was at Champion’s Way to hold his position down the back straight: “I didn’t think he was handling the track and I thought we’d have to find better ground when he straightens up.”
On settling midfield: “He’s still working it out but I’m pretty pleased with the fact he didn’t have to go forward and contest [the lead]. He still had plenty of energy left to run them down. He always looked like a good horse, but I think he appreciates something to run at when the winning post is coming up.”
As they turned for home: “So now he’s got plenty to do and you’re going to find out if he’s a real horse or not because the two in front look like they’ve got the race in their keeping. He’s got to be good horse to catch them.”
When Good Standing kicked clear with 200m to go: “I thought he was going to make it. He wanders around a little bit but he’s done that before. He’s still got a horse to run at so he’ll pick up.”
On hitting the line clear of his rivals: “He just performed like a good horse should.”
The son of Hinchinbrook remains undefeated and has rocketed up the ratings – he will be somewhere near 100 come Monday afternoon after starting at 52 for his debut at the end of January – and the trainer thinks he is taking it all in his stride.
“I’ll see how he is at home first and then probably run him in another 1,400m Class Two but if it’s not suitable, I’ll put him away,” Size said.
“As you can see, he’s shown no sign of stress yet, so maybe he’s better than them and that’s why he’s doing it.”
It takes a serious horse to win five races in a row in Hong Kong – only superstar Beauty Generation and stablemate Full Of Beauty have done it this season – and Champion’s Way showed on Sunday he is just that.