One-time Derby hopeful Ho Ho Khan has cemented his position as one of the most promising stayers in Hong Kong with a commanding victory in the Group Three Queen Mother Memorial Cup (2,400m).
The New Zealand import shone through in the rain-affected affair which provided the highlight to an otherwise dour day at Sha Tin on Sunday.
After starting the season with a rating of just 71, Ho Ho Khan has progressed through the grades to become one of the most consistent performers, giving his trainer David Hall hope of an assault on next season’s Hong Kong International Races with it looking unlikely he will go on to the Group One Champions & Chater Cup (2,400m) in three weeks.
The win was Hall’s first Group-level win since 2015, when he saluted with Rad in the Group Three Bauhinia Sprint Trophy (1,200m).
“As everybody can see, the horse had been running well all season and has continued to do so, he’s continued to train well so we went into the race not concerned that he wouldn’t run the distance but the wet track might have thrown up a bit of a red herring but he had run on it in New Zealand,” Hall said.
“I didn’t discuss that [Champions & Chater Cup] with the owners but my intention would be to put him away now and mature him up a bit more, we might have a horse for December.
“He has had a terrific season, how many horses come off his rating and get to where he did for the Derby? He was probably the cheapest [Private Purchase] in the race.
“Then to be able to bounce back out the Derby and keep going and finish up with a win, it’d be nice to find a few more.”
Leading local jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu gave the four-year-old one of the rides of the day to keep their unbeaten record in tact for this season.
Ho has combined to win four times on the horse after electing to ride Ka Ying Star throughout the four-year-old series earlier this season.
“He has had an outstanding season and he has always been a jockey on my radar, he won a Group race for me on Bundle Of Joy a few seasons ago and I think once again Vincent has matured even more,” Hall said.
“He travels at the end of each season, he is very strong and is more confident in his mind as he matures.”
With the dashing win marking his best performance in Hong Kong yet, Hall said he wasn’t prepared to limit the lightly framed galloper to just 2,400m.
“He might not be an out and out 2,400m horse, at the 2,000m he was still a bit immature and he hasn’t even had a set of blinkers on yet so he still might be sharp enough for 2,000m,” he said.
“There’s still a lot of water to go under the bridge yet, we will see with his prep runs in October and see how he is going and what his future is.
“He looks like he is good enough to be there and warrant a solid prep for December.”
Ho Ho Khan was well-found by punters who sent him out a $2.8 favourite over the likes of Ruthven ($5.1) and Helene Charisma ($5.3).
Still a colt, Hall said he sees no reason to “sharpen the knife” in preparation for next season, saying the horse had continued to learn as he matures.
“The main reason you want to geld a horse is if there is soundness issues or attitude issues, at the moment we haven’t got either,” he said.
“A lot of the time in Hong Kong they geld horses too early and it takes a long time to come back.”