Courier Wonder’s march to December’s Hong Kong International Races is all but certain to begin in the Group Two Premier Bowl (1,200m) on October 17.
The undefeated speedster turned in an effortless trial victory on the all-weather track in his first hit-out of the season at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning, giving trainer John Size confidence the four-year-old can add more strings to his bow in 2021-22.
“He does his job the same way every time. It’s a barrier trial so he wasn’t going too hard, he was pretty relaxed and now he’s a four-year-old he might even take that to the races,” Size said.
“There’s not too many options, we’ll look at the handicap on the 17th, we’ll give him another trial and if I’m happy with him he’ll run then.”
Courier Wonder would then likely progress to the Group Two Jockey Club Sprint (1,200m) on November 21, three weeks before international day.
While he’s only had five starts, the Group One Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m) has been on Courier Wonder’s radar for some time and everything the son of Sacred Falls has done so far suggests he will be right at home among Hong Kong’s best.
“If he can win a race between now and then he’s going to be competitive,” said a typically understated Size.
Size was uncharacteristically effusive after Courier Wonder coasted to a five-and-a-quarter-length victory on debut, declaring that “in Hong Kong, if a three-year-old wins its first start by a margin, normally they go all the way”.
He hasn’t disappointed so far, with his four subsequent victories including May’s Group Three Sha Tin Vase, and the 67-year-old outlined the impact a galloper with his potential can have on a stable – even one accustomed to sustained dominance.
“The good horses keep you going, it’s always nice to have a horse like him to keep you interested and excited about his prospects and racing in general,” Size said.
Another promising Size galloper returned to the trials on Tuesday, with Fantastic Way moving well on his way to second behind Young Glory.
There’s a 1,200m Class Two also on October 17 that Size suggested could be a suitable place for the four-year-old to resume as he looks to build on his record of three wins and a second from four starts, all over six furlongs at Sha Tin.
“He looks very well, he had a good break and he’s in good condition. He looks a lot better than he did as a three-year-old,” Size said, admitting that while he expects the gelding to be better suited to sprint trips, he hasn’t shut the door on a Classic Series push altogether.
“I think he’s a sprinter but naturally he’s the right age to run in the [Classic Mile] so we’ll see how he comes up.”
Size has one representative in the first Group contest of the season, with Champion’s Way set to carry 119 pounds in the Celebration Cup (1,400m) this Sunday.
“He can’t win the set weights [races], they’re just too strong for him, but in the handicaps he runs a lot better so maybe he can get some prize money,” the trainer said.
Southern Legend is the top weight in the race, while the likes of Mighty Giant, Sky Darci and Russian Emperor will also kick off their campaigns.