Blake Shinn is looking forward to seeing what talented sprinter Explosive Witness can do on the dirt as he looks to break his maiden status in Hong Kong on Sunday.
The five-year-old has performed well under Shinn at Happy Valley this season but has been unable to break through, running third, fifth and third.
While the form guide says the Class Three Game Spirit Handicap (1,200m) will be his first race on the all-weather track, Shinn is confident he will relish the surface after a strong trial behind the highly rated Champion’s Way in October.
“The horse has performed well in a barrier trial on the dirt earlier in the season,” he said.
“He had a setback after that but I think it is a good indication that he is going to run right up to the mark because he handled the kickback and went through the field no problem.”
It will also mark Explosive Witness’ first race further than 1,000m.
The Caspar Fownes-trained gelding put in his best effort at Happy Valley last start under Shinn where he loomed up as a possible winner before being outdone by Allied Agility and Larson.
“I’m confident that with the step up to 1,200m and a good barrier draw, it sets up nicely for him to break through for his first win in Hong Kong,” he said.
“He kept making nice ground and was trying hard last start. You could make a case that the first two in that race shifted out into the good part of the track because it rained throughout the night.
“That may have been the difference, I’m not sure, it’s hard to say when only beaten by a narrow margin.
“The horse is in good form and he has been for all of his runs so he is knocking on the door.”
While Shinn only has five rides on the day, he has some winning chances which includes Sprint Forward, Monster Kaka and Magic Supreme.
Shinn is looking to pull off a plan that has been a long time in the making with Sprint Forward, trainer John Moore racing him on the quick back-up.
Moore has a strong strike rate on the one week back-up with 12 per cent of his runners winning, second only to John Size.
With 10 wins to his name this season, the Australian is looking to build momentum to secure his spot on the riding roster for the 2020-21 season.
“I’d like some more rides but the rides that I have, I am happy with,” Shinn said.
“My two rides for John Moore are competitive, Magic Supreme drops back to 1,000m and has trialled well down the straight.
“Sprint Forward is on the quick back-up, that’s been the plan all along for him and we know John’s stable goes great on the quick back-up.
“Monster Kaka is going terrific, yes he has to carry the top weight but I have just got to give him a good run, he is running great.”
Shinn will also ride the Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained Ultimate Glory.
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