Speed-machine Voyage Warrior bounced back into the winner’s circle and trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai hopes it will act as a springboard to bigger and better things next season.
The boom three-year-old had his colours lowered by John Moore’s Thanks Forever last start, but there were no such issues on Sunday, easily putting his rivals away in the Class Three Ma On Shan Handicap (1,000m) at Sha Tin.
With regular rider Karis Teetan suspended, champion jockey Zac Purton took the reins in what represented not much more than a track gallop with the Australian not required to even reach for the whip.
Voyage Warrior and Purton withstood a mid-race challenge from lightweight Look Eras and then easily dashed clear to win by almost two lengths eased down.
“It was nice, yes, Zac didn’t even have to pull his stick,” Yiu said post-race.
“He is a winning jockey who knows what kind of car he is driving so it is as simple as that.”
With a record boasting three wins from four starts over the straight 1,000m course, Yiu said he would race Voyage Warrior around the bend next season as he chases feature-race glory.
“As I said to the jockey, we have to move on to 1,200m, it is time to run him around the bend so that is our plan,” he said.
“He has done well as a three-year-old, he has done his job, it’s been a long season so I will pick him up for now, he is done.”
Voyage Warrior’s bounce-back win delighted Yiu, franking the decision to roll-on with his previously planned programme into Sunday’s meeting.
While he was not able to handle the pressure of a mid-race move from Thanks Forever last start, he did so with ease this time around, giving Sacred Kingdom’s former trainer hope that he can send his speedster to the next level.
“In the middle section they really took him on and he went well, it was easy,” he said.
“I would [go to early features], he will be four, there are some big feature races coming up for him and I really want him to participate in them.”
While a Group One appearance in December’s Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m) looms as the grand final, Yiu could target other Group level races such as the National Day Cup (1,000,), Premier Bowl (1,200m) and Jockey Club Sprint (1,200m) – all won by four-year-old Hot King Prawn this season who has similar form lines to Voyage Warrior.