Trainer Tony Millard believes it is time for his untapped sprinter Refined Treasure to deliver on his potential if he is to thrive in Hong Kong.
The four-year-old has had to fight off a string of lameness issues in his short seven-start career but has unquestionable ability, winning four times up the Sha Tin 1,000m straight.
He lines up again on Saturday in the Class Two Macau Handicap (1,000m) in what is a return to his favourite course and distance after having a tough time of things over 1,200m when going around the bend for the first time last month.
“He copped a couple of really bad bumps and just got completely lost,” Millard said of his eighth placing. “He didn’t finish that far off them, we were hoping for a better run but he is well now.”
Jumping from barrier five, Refined Treasure will meet the likes of proven sprinters Raging Storm, Speed Vision, Fabulous One and Montreal, who returns from a long injury lay-off.
After declaring he had something special on his hands after an incredible win under jockey Silvestre de Sousa in February, Millard raised the possibility of racing the 90-rater in Group company.
With a shortage of high-quality sprinters in Hong Kong, Millard knows the time is now if he wants to make it to the top level.
He had also previously indicated he would try to squeeze the most out of the “fragile” horse because of the uncertainty about how long he will stay sound.
“It’s a tough field but we will take our chances with him,” he said. “We want to see something with him now, I have got him pretty good. I would like to see him produce, you can only talk a horse up for so long, he must win.
“He is not a 1,000m horse on his breeding and the way he is, I am running him in sprints because he is doing well with it. He is the type of horse that should run 1,400m but we will take it step by step.”
Millard has again taken of leap of faith with unheralded South African jockey Aldo Domeyer by putting him on the classy horse and he hopes to continue their winning ways together.
The countrymen teamed up for two winners on Domeyer’s first night of riding in Hong Kong earlier this month, with Millard full of praise for the 32-year-old.
“He has only ridden four horses for me and won on two,” he said. “It’s like anything with jockeys and trainers – you have to have the right horses to get the opportunities.”
The duo will combine five times on Saturday with Domeyer also riding Strathbarra, Super Eighteen, World Record and Sharp Style.
Meanwhile, jockey Derek Leung Ka-chun will miss the meeting after a bad fall during the last race at Sha Tin on Wednesday night.
The 30-year-old was diagnosed with mild concussion after the incident and spent the night in hospital as a result.
Stewards have advised they will monitor Leung’s progress in the coming days and decide upon an appropriate return date.
Leung fell off the Frankie Lor Fu-chuen-trained Gameplayer Emperor at the 300m mark of the race after the horse went amiss in its right front leg, resulting in the four-year-old being euthanised.