After almost 11 months in Hong Kong and eight trials, John Size unveils talented Australian import Lucky Express in the Class Two Amah Rock Handicap (1,200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The son of Toronado impressed winning two of his three races in Victoria as a two-year-old when named Prince Of Sussex – earning A$681,250 (HK$3.95 million) in the process – before being sold for a reported A$1.75 million (HK$8.98 million).
In typical Size fashion, the 11-time champion trainer has shown plenty of patience with Lucky Express, giving him time to acclimatise to his new home and develop both physically and mentally so he can handle the rigours of racing in Hong Kong.
That process has included eight barrier trials – he never finished worse than fourth in any of them – but now it is time to see what he’s capable of under the pressure of race day.
Rising star Prince Of Sussex has been sold to Hong Kong for $1.75 million pending a final veterinary check. https://t.co/d456XfDaMY— Racing.com (@Racing) May 8, 2019
“He was only a young horse when he came in so he wasn’t quite tough enough or strong enough,” Size said.
“He seems like he’s going OK, he’s probably ready to go to the races – he’s been here for a while. His trials have been good enough so we’ll give him a race.”
On top of his efforts in Australia and some smart trials, Lucky Express has drawn perfectly in barrier four and will be piloted by three-time champion jockey Joao Moreira.
Despite those advantages, history shows it is never easy for previously raced horses to win their Hong Kong debuts – normally only five or six do it a season – so Size is tempering expectations at this early stage.
“They can all gallop in Class Two so there are no weak races there,” he said. “We’ll just get him racing and see what happens.”
A couple of more seasoned three-year-olds shape as Lucky Express’ biggest dangers in the HK$2.1 million contest, with Zac Purton aboard Danny Shum Chap-shing’s last-start winner Lucky More while apprentice Jerry Chau Chun-lok takes 10 pounds off the back of John Moore’s smart sprinter Stronger.
One of Size’s previously raced imports who did salute on debut this season is Beauty Legacy and he chases his second win in Sunday’s feature, the Group Three Lion Rock Trophy.
Since that performance in January, the four-year-old has struggled to put it all together on race day with bad luck and poor manners costing him.
Beauty Legacy has carried the top weight of 133 pounds in each of his past three starts, so by stepping up to Group level, he gets some relief and will only have to lump 115 pounds, with Moreira claiming two over.
“He’s still out of the handicap, so that doesn’t help. The top-rated horse [Southern Legend] is at 125 – he’s a Group One winner,” said Size, who won last year’s Lion Rock Trophy with Champion’s Way.
“He’s going to go around with a lighter weight and it should make a difference to how he feels, but it’s a much stronger race than he’s seen in Hong Kong. The bottom weights have got to show some class and come up to it.”
Caspar Fownes’ Southern Legend is the stand-out in the HK$3.25 million event, returning to the track for the first time since upstaging two-time Horse of the Year Beauty Generation in the Group One Champions Mile.
Tony Cruz’s honest galloper Ka Ying Star, Harmony Victory from the Shum stable and the Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-prepared Preciousship also look to have claims.
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