Pakistan Star defends his title in next weekend’s Group One Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2,400m) but trainer Paul O’Sullivan hinted that the six-year-old’s staying days could be limited after his impressive trial win on Friday morning.
While Pakistan Star’s two Group One victories have come over 2,000m and 2,400m, his only placing this season came at the mile and he faded on his run after hitting the lead 200m from home in last month’s FWD QE II Cup (2,000m).
He had no such issues in Friday’s 1,200m dirt trial, turning heads with an explosive burst of speed to coast past leaders Time Warp and Full Of Beauty.
“Maybe as he is getting older he doesn’t really want to go that far. I have got to run him in the [Champions & Chater] anyway because there is nothing left for him,” O’Sullivan said.
“In that trial there, he was just running through the bridle at the end of that and it was a pretty strong line-up.
“We’ll get this one over and done with, give him a break and next season we might see him run in a shorter race.”
Pakistan Star’s turn of foot evoked memories of his early days, when he came from a long last at the home turn to win on debut over 1,200m before producing an almost identical effort to win again at his second start.
While O’Sullivan believes the 2,400m of the Champions & Chater may be too far for Pakistan Star a year after his dominant win in the race, the gelding has proven on multiple occasions that he is capable of anything on his day.
“I took the blinkers off today and I’ll take the blinkers off for race day just to try and get him more relaxed,” he said.
“We’ll just run him where he is going to switch off, again the barrier draw is a big help, but I’ve given him a couple runs and he has dashed both times and looked like he is going to go on with it and just looks like he doesn’t get the trip.”
Exultant was ridden quietly towards the back of the same trial on Friday and trainer Tony Cruz confirmed that his star stayer will be given every possible chance to continue his superb season in Japan after next weekend’s race, which is the final Group One of the Hong Kong season.
Exultant is entered for the Group One Takarazuka Kinen (2,200m) at Hanshin on June 23 and the five-year-old will make the trip to the Land of the Rising Sun provided all goes well next Sunday, where the gelding is chasing his third Group One win of the term.
“It depends on how he runs next Sunday,” Cruz said matter-of-factly. “If he runs well I will be going to Japan, if he doesn’t run well I won’t be going.”
Almost half of the field for the Champions & Chater Cup were in Friday’s trial, with Time Warp assuming his customary lead role while Vincent Ho Chak-yiu finished near the back aboard Rise High.
Ho rides the Caspar Fownes-trained Rise High for the first time as the five-year-old has his second crack at Group One level after finishing four lengths behind Beauty Generation in the Champions Mile.