Utopia Life was powerless to the might of the stewards at his last start and faces another brute force in the Class Three Hong Kong Lions Cup (1,000m) at Sha Tin on Monday.
The three-year-old was front and centre during Silvestre de Sousa’s eventful final day last month, with the Brazilian jockey charged with careless riding and Utopia Life relegated from first to fourth after De Sousa veered across in front of the Caspar Fownes-trained Seven Heavens.
Seven Heavens was promoted to third, Goko to second and Multimillion to the winner’s circle, while De Sousa was left to lament the stewards’ decision.
Drama at Sha Tin! Multimillion gets it in the Stewards' Room as first past the post Utopia Life pays the price for squeezing out the luckless Seven Heavens close home. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/EpWsp3s5yQ— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) March 24, 2019
Multimillion and Goko have filled the top two spots, in that order, in Utopia Life’s past two starts but while the Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained gelding won’t have to deal with either of those two on Monday, he will have to tackle boom sprinter Voyage Warrior.
The Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained Voyage Warrior was superb on debut on the same day as Utopia Life’s misfortune, producing an emphatic four-length win to leave the Sha Tin crowd buzzing.
Utopia Life will have his work cut out toppling Voyage Warrior if the exciting three-year-old produces anywhere near its best, however Man’s galloper will have the benefit of the services of Zac Purton, who rides the horse for the first time.
De Sousa was in the saddle for Utopia Life’s first three starts and the horse has shown gradual improvement, producing a seventh on debut and then a third before feeling the wrath of the stewards just when he looked to have delivered his maiden win.
Purton will have to find a way of overcoming the outside alley, however if there is a sliver of a positive to come out of Utopia Life’s last-start hiccup it is that the horse will only have to carry two pounds more despite the eye-catching run.
Voyage Warrior aside, the Tony Cruz-trained California Gungho comes into the race with the best form of the established horses after running second last time out, while there are four first-starters in the race.
Dennis Yip Chor-hong’s Decisive Action debuts in Hong Kong after winning once from two starts in Ireland, while David Hall’s Star Of Theharbour won three times from five outings in Australia.
Chris So Wai-yin’s Ardenode won at Listed level in France and ran third in a Group Three, while John Moore’s Sunny Boy ran at Group Two level at Randwick, finishing fourth in the Skyline Stakes (1,200m) when known as Eden Roc and trainer by Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes.
Sunny Boy has trialled the best of the quartet and will be ridden by Chad Schofield.
Utopia Life is among a seven-strong team Man is taking to the track on Easter Monday as he looks to follow up his double on the weekend.
He saddles up Big Time Baby in the day’s sole Class Two, the Peacock Handicap (1,200m) on the all-weather track, with the five-year-old looking to notch a second win of the season at the course and distance.