Rising star Fantastic Treasure extended his winning streak to three but trainer David Hayes won’t be pushing too hard in the coming months as he focuses one eye on next year’s Classic Series.
The two-time Hong Kong champion trainer is loving what the son of Written Tycoon has produced so far in his fledgling career but will look after him in the short term in the hope everyone will reap the benefits in the long run – preferably in lucrative races like the Classic Mile, Classic Cup and Hong Kong Derby.
After two barnstorming finishes over 1,200m to start his career, Fantastic Treasure seemed to relish the step up to 1,400m for the Class Three Ma Kong Shan Handicap at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Jockey Chad Schofield settled him midfield on the rail but needed to be patient early in the straight before a gap opened up and once it did, the young gun pounced to land the prize as the $3.10 favourite, running over the top to beat Perfect Pair and Winning Method.
As Fantastic Treasure builds a picket fence to start his career, it had Hayes thinking about the different paths he would take if he was racing back home.
“If I was training that horse in Australia and he had three wins like that in a row, I’d be setting him for the Guineas,” he said.
“It was the run of a good young three-year-old and you’d head to the Guineas and certainly the lead-up races. He’s a wonderful horse going forward.
“He probably won’t have much more racing this season, maybe one or two more races at the most and then we’ll put him away, because he’s only a three-year-old.
“This season is about getting him ready for next season. We’ll train him for the four-year-old series, they are the logical races. But you know that you’ve got to have a rating of about 85-90 to get in them and he’ll be getting pretty close if he can win again.”
Schofield is also very bullish about Fantastic Treasure’s potential.
“He’s still learning but he was very impressive,” he said.
“The horse just went to sleep on the rails, like good horses do. I felt like I was always going to win but I had to do a bit of manoeuvring but when I got him into the clear and pressed the button that acceleration was there.
“He’s very exciting. It’s always nice getting on these nice young horses and [I’m] grateful to ride them.”
Hayes was pleased with how both the jockey and gelding handled a little bit of adversity early in the straight before coming out on top.
“I think Chad did a very good job, he was patient and he was educating the horse going through,” he said.
“He’s good in a field, he’s brave and he’s strong at the finish. The best work is always his last 200m. He’s got lots of tricks and more improvement to come.”
Fantastic Treasure’s win completed a double for Schofield, who also tasted success on another promising youngster in Dragon Baby.
The John Size-trained three-year-old made his debut in the Class Four Pottinger Peak Handicap (1,000m), settling towards the back of the field early before picking his way through and savaging the line to land a late betting plunge.
“He was impressive, I had never sat on the horse before but I got a bit of confidence from Mr Size before the race,” Schofield said.
“He didn’t muster a great deal of early speed but we were able to recover and as the race went on, the more comfortable he got and he was very strong late.”