Last year’s Longines Hong Kong International Races delivered Karis Teetan his biggest career moment but the Mauritian heads to this year’s marquee day with one eye on the future.
Teetan landed his first Group One win aboard Mr Stunning in the Hong Kong Sprint 12 months ago and has another live chance this year in Hot King Prawn, but it is his ride on Derby contender More Than This that could prove the most significant.
More Than This lines up in the Class Two Eishin Preston Handicap (1,600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday chasing a fourth win on the bounce and while the horse remains on the undercard for now, that will change when the four-year-old series begins with the Classic Mile next month.
“He is a special horse, everything with him is going forward. Everything has gone so well for him so far,” said Teetan, who has ridden the horse at both of his starts this season.
“He is doing everything right and his only way is up, I just hope he can do it all right again on Sunday.
“He has got a very bright future ahead of him, we have a few things to work on to keep him in good condition because there are a few nice races coming up.”
While More Than This is yet to step out beyond a mile, Teetan says trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai has been meticulous in ensuring he has the tools required to work his way up to the 2,000m of the Derby.
“You don’t want to climb the ladder too quick right now, you want to build up gradually and peak on the big days,” said Teetan, who took out Wednesday night’s International Jockeys’ Championship at Happy Valley.
“I know Francis and everyone around him are very happy with him so I am really looking forward to riding him.”
After winning three from three in Great Britian, More Than This made an inconspicuous start to life in Hong Kong, producing a best finish of eighth from his first three starts.
The penny dropped late last season for the gelding, however, opening his Hong Kong account with a win on the last day of the term.
Another Class Three win followed in September and then More Than This really turned heads with a win at the first time of trying in Class Two, with the three-year-old digging deep to fend off Nicconi Express and Chad Schofield in a dash for the line.
“To be honest, his last win was tough, really tough. I came in and Chad said ‘I thought I had you’ and to be honest I thought he had me too,” said Teetan, who considers More Than This his top four-year-old series choice at this stage.
“He stands out so far to be honest, I know we are not far in but I said to the owner after the last start, I think he can take another step forward.”
One of his biggest challengers come the Classic Mile will likely be stablemate Golden Sixty, who has also strung together three straight wins, while Sunday’s contest features a handful of others with high hopes.
Danny Shum Chap-shing’s Playa Del Puente returns to Sha Tin after a win over the Valley mile, while the Tony Cruz-trained Star Performance is also in the race.
And a pair of debutants who had their last starts in the Group One Australian Derby (2,400m) at Randwick in April will begin their march towards the classic series.
The Frankie Lor Fu-chuen-trained Super Oasis finished third in that race when named Surely Sacred, while Paul O’Sullivan’s Amazing Beats – formerly a Godolphin galloper named Cossetot – trialled nicely last month.
John Moore’s Enjoying, a dual Group Two winner in Australian when known as Global Exchange, was sixth in the Australian Derby and will be looking to build on his debut Hong Kong performance on November 3, where he finished ninth behind More Than This.