Chris So Wai-yin’s dirt specialist Foodie Princess returns to the races for the first time since April at Sha Tin on Sunday but the amiable trainer knows anything the five-year-old produces from here will be a bonus.
After winning three times and never missing the first four from eight runs on the all-weather track last season, Foodie Princess was found to have a bone fragment in his left front fetlock.
After an arthroscopy to rectify the problem, So has been patient with the son of Sepoy and scratched him from his intended return last month when he wasn’t 100 per cent.
“The vet just said to give him more time, he seems all right now and I hope he runs well,” So said. “After three wins the horse has done his job, so we were not rushing to race again.”
Foodie Princess makes his comeback at the course and distance of all three of his career victories, lining up in the Class Three Peacock Handicap (1,650m) on the dirt.
The gelding has had three trials in the lead-up to the weekend’s race, hitting the line nicely to win the most recent of those.
“He’s going really well and he trialled nicely,” So said, adding that the galloper has returned from his lay-off a different horse.
“He’s a big horse and he would use himself too much in the morning, but now it’s totally different and he’s more relaxed.”
While it was Joao Moreira who got the best out of Foodie Princess last season – producing three wins, a second and a fourth from five attempts – Tony Piccone takes the reins for Sunday’s race after partnering the galloper in his two most recent trials.
Foodie Princess jumps from gate seven and finds in-form trio Turin Redstar, Party Everyday and Biz Power among his 13 opponents.
The David Hayes-trained Conqueror is also in the race, with the four-year-old set to finally make his Hong Kong debut after being scratched at the gates last month.
While the Australian import – who finished four and a half lengths behind Shadow Hero in last year’s Group One Randwick Guineas – was entered in Class Two on the turf on that occasion, Hayes has opted to make the most of the extended 85-60 ratings band of this weekend’s race and debut his 85-rated charge on the dirt.
Also among So’s hand on Sunday is Classic Unicorn, who races at Sha Tin for the first time in over a year in the Class Two Flamingo Handicap (1,000m) – a course and distance the five-year-old won twice at to begin his career.
“Hopefully he will run a good race, he’s a lot better this year – last year he hadn’t quite matured,” So said of Classic Unicorn, who has won once from three Happy Valley runs this season.
“I’ve told the owner that we cannot only run at the 1,000m, we need to find out if he can handle 1,200m or not, so that’s the plan.
“Let’s see how he runs this week at the 1,000m and then we will decide if we go to the Sha Tin 1,200m in future, it depends on how he performs.”