John Size is looking to snare his third consecutive Group Two Premier Bowl (1,200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday and heads into the race with three of the eight runners.
After collecting the silverware with Mr Stunning in 2017 and Hot King Prawn in 2018, Size takes Full Of Beauty, Ivictory and Gunnison into a race missing a few of the heaviest hitters among Hong Kong’s sprinters stocks.
While Gunnison may be a touch out of his depth, Group One winner Ivictory has trialled well ahead of his return from a 10-month lay-off and Full Of Beauty enters the race on the back of an impressive first-up win on National Day.
That victory came over 1,000m at Group Three level and jockey Joao Moreira has no doubt the five-year-old will again be competitive.
“Once again it’s a handicap race, which is obviously going to suit him,” the Brazilian said. “I can’t see the race being much tougher than what he was in last time and I can see that he did a lot of things wrong in his race over the 1,000m.
“He should improve on his first run and he’s carrying the light weight, so I’m quite confident about him performing once again.”
Full Of Beauty carries 120 pounds and returns to the distance where he won five races on the trot to begin his career.
“He’s a young horse with a bright future and I’m quite happy to be bringing him back to his main distance of 1,200m,” Moreira said. “If he’s as good over 1,200m as we think he is, he’s obviously a good chance.”
Ivictory will have his work cut out lumping the top weight of 133 pounds after so long on the sidelines but looked good in a recent trial win.
After winning seven of his first eight starts – including the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1,200m) in 2018 – Ivictory was well below his best last season, however jockey Blake Shinn believes there is life in the galloper yet.
“We’re not going to really know until we put him under full pressure but all the signs are there and I’m hopeful that he can recapture his best form,” said Shinn, who was aboard when Ivictory rattled home from near the back in that eye-catching trial performance.
“We’re starting to come into the exciting part of the season where the good horses are resuming their campaigns and to get on a champion sprinter of the class of Ivictory is very exciting, especially so early in my stint in Hong Kong.”
Ivictory makes the leap from Class 2 to Group 1 company, winning the HK$16m Chairman's Sprint Prize in a 1-2-3 for trainer John Size. Hong Kong Sprint winner Mr Stunning second, Beat The Clock third #HKChampionsDay pic.twitter.com/9Tls6BiLuK— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) April 29, 2018
A horse that Shinn was aboard last start also looks well placed in Sunday’s race, with the Richard Gibson-trained Wishful Thinker entering the contest after a narrow third behind Full Of Beauty last time out.
He meets Size’s speedster four pounds better off and Vincent Ho Chak-yiu has barrier two at his disposal.
“The 1,200m will suit him and he’s got a good draw, so I think he will be very competitive. He’s fit and some of the other horses are not that fit yet,” Ho said.