He stormed home to ruin the debut of heavily spruiked $1.50 pop Lucky More earlier this month and now Duke Wai steps up in grade against a host of private purchases making their first Hong Kong appearance.
But while the four debutants in the Class Three The Peninsula Golden Jubilee Challenge Cup (1,000m) look likely to need the run, Paul O’Sullivan is confident Duke Wai can continue on with his winning ways at Sha Tin on Sunday.
“I’ve always thought Class Three won’t hold too many fears for him,” O’Sullivan said, adding that he considered stepping his charge up to 1,200m.
“If they run him off his legs we can go always go further, but if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
Duke Wai was immense when winning last time out, badly missing the start before surging down the middle of the track to grab Lucky More.
“He shouldn’t have missed the kick the other day, he was always going to be three lengths closer so he made his job harder than what it should have been, but he finished it off,” O’Sullivan said.
Lucky More’s initial disappointment was short-lived, with the Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained galloper winning on the weekend, and the unassuming O’Sullivan knows he crossed paths with the horse at the right time.
“He was always going to improve, I’d rather have been racing against him two starts ago than this weekend,” he smiled.
Duke Wai, who has saluted twice from six starts, won over 1,200m last season and was also competitive at 1,400m before delivering two impressive runs over five furlongs this campaign.
O’Sullivan expects his horse to want further sooner rather than later but hopes to pinch another win up the straight before that time comes.
“He probably does want to go a little bit further but in those 1,000m races, if they jump and they run at speed – which they often do – he’s one horse that can chase over 1,000m and he’s not going to have a lot of weight,” O’Sullivan said of Duke Wai, who will carry 120 pounds under Karis Teetan on Sunday.
“Most Per Incantos are 1,400m, 1,600m horses so as soon as he tells us that 1,000m is a bit short we’ll look to run over further.”
While history suggests the four debutants – Seventh Sea (David Ferraris), Stronger (John Moore), Whiskey Neat (Caspar Fownes) and Baltic Success (Danny Shum Chap-shing) – will likely find the task of winning first-up in Class Three a bridge too far, the race does feature a host of winning chances.
The Benno Yung Tin-pang-trained Super Junior enters the race off a last-start win, while Francis Lui Kin-wai’s Massive Pocket has produced a win and a second in his last two outings and Allied Agility saluted down the straight earlier this season.
Teetan is out to maintain his perfect record aboard Duke Wai after delivering on him at the first time of asking in that blistering last-start win. The four-year-old has drawn nicely in barrier 11.