Pakistan Star’s racing future hangs in the balance after the one-time internet sensation refused to run again at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Lining up under his new trainer Paul O’Sullivan as a reborn sprinter, the enigmatic six-year-old jumped well in the Group Two Jockey Club Sprint (1,200m) before refusing to run any further than about 100m.
Having already famously stopped mid-race in the now “Pakistan Stop” Group Three Premier Bowl in June 2017 when he started a $1.2 favourite, the son of Shamardal is unlikely to start again in Hong Kong.
Chief steward Kim Kelly confirmed he asked O’Sullivan to consult owner Kerm Din over his preferred future for the two-time Group One winner, before reporting back to the Jockey Club.
“The trainer of Pakistan Star was told that before the stewards give consideration to the horse’s racing future in Hong Kong, he may consult the owner of Pakistan Star and advise the stewards accordingly in the near future as to what the intention is for the horse,” he said.
“Depending on the outcome of that discussion, the stewards then will give consideration to the horse’s racing future in Hong Kong.”
Should Din and O’Sullivan elect to retire Pakistan Star from racing in Hong Kong on their own terms, he would have a greater chance of being allowed to race by an overseas jurisdiction should they want him to carry on.
Jockey Blake Shinn was miffed as to the star galloper’s refusal to run, saying “he just doesn’t want to be a part of racing at the moment”.
“It was very disappointing, he began well but it was apparent to me right from when they opened [the gates] that the brakes were on and he didn’t want to participate,” he said.
“It is so unfortunate for a great horse like him, it is all in the mind.”
It capped an action-packed Jockey Club Sprint which saw well-known barrier rogue Pingwu Spark again scratched at the gates after refusing to load.
Trainer Benno Yung Tin-pang has been informed by stewards that the one-time Group Two placegetter is to complete a minimum of three barrier trials before being allowed to race again.
“Should Pingwu Spark refuse to load in any of those barrier trials or at any stage in his Hong Kong racing career, the stewards may give consideration to recommending to the club’s board of stewards that the horse be compulsorily retired,” Kelly warned.
It marked a busy afternoon in the stewards’ room with four suspensions handed out including champion jockey Zac Purton, who will miss two meetings from November 27.
An inquiry was also adjourned into Alberto Sanna’s ride on Dances With Dragon from the last event of the day.
Bowman returning for HKIR
Hugh Bowman has confirmed he will be back to ride Furore at the Hong Kong International Races after the Derby winner produced a nice second behind Exultant in Sunday’s Group Two Jockey Club Cup (2,000m).
It was comfortably Furore’s best performance since his Derby success and Bowman is confident he’s coming back to a competitive ride.
“I was happy with him. I watched the replays of his last runs and I actually wasn’t as disappointed with him as what his form read,” the star Australian said.
“Nothing went his way last start and the race set up better today. Whether he’s got the class to win on international day is questionable but I think he put the writing on the wall that he’s certainly a worthy contender.”
Trainer Frankie Lor Fu-chuen will have to decide whether to tackle Beauty Generation in the Hong Kong Mile or Japanese champion Almond Eye in the Cup, with Bowman suggesting both are live options.
“Whether he goes to the mile or 2,000m is a decision to be made, time will tell,” Bowman said. “He’s effective at both distances and you’d be inclined to go to the weaker race, wouldn’t you?
“It would appear the mile might be an easier option at this stage. At least there’s options for him and at least he went well today.”
Bowman also partnered reigning Hong Kong Sprint champion Mr Stunning on Sunday, who finished five lengths off Aethero.
“I thought his run was satisfactory but I’d be very surprised if he came out and won the sprint on today’s performance,” he said.
De Sousa to miss next Saturday
Jockey Silvestre de Sousa will miss next weekend’s Sha Tin meeting after previously committing to riding in Bahrain on Friday night.
The Brazilian was off to a flying start in his first day back in the saddle in Hong Kong on Sunday with a winner on Gift Of Lifeline but has been granted permission not to accept rides for next weekend.
De Sousa had a pre-existing commitment to ride for his retaining stable King Power Racing in the Bahrain International Trophy before agreeing to a short-term stint in Hong Kong and has been allowed by the Jockey Club to fulfil that agreement.
“This is due to jockey De Sousa’s pre-existing commitment to fulfil a riding engagement for his retaining stable King Power Racing on Pivoine in the Bahrain International Trophy which is to be run on Friday November 22 and the uncertainty of the timing of his arrival back in Hong Kong on Saturday November 23,” licensing committee secretary Steve Railton said.
The Andrew Balding-trained galloper comes off a second placing at Newbury in Group Three company.
Patience pays off for Hall
David Hall’s patience with the difficult Simply Spectacular delivered in spades at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Winning on debut is hard enough in Hong Kong, but Hall’s task was made even harder with the challenging four-year-old after a string of hiccups since arriving at the stables.
Hall said the horse’s ability had been clear for all to see for some time but he had been forced to hold-off on his racing after taking a considerable amount of time to adapt to Hong Kong.
“He is one of the ISG horses that seemed to have a bit of trouble adapting to Hong Kong and he has had a few little niggles along the way so we had to wait and be patient because he is a big, heavy horse,” Hall said.
“It was a bit of a process to get him to the races today so it was good to see him win.”