While Nervous Witness is travelling beautifully as he prepares for a busy finish to 2021, another of David Hayes’ smart youngsters Lord Thunder is facing a long road back after suffering a tendon injury.
The undefeated speedster – who won his last start by four lengths – won’t be seen again this season and Hayes will do everything required to give the four-year-old the best chance of returning to full fitness.
“I’ll give him all the time in the world because he’s worth it – he’s a good one,” Hayes said. “Last Saturday we noticed there was some heat in the tendon and we gave him an easy week, scanned it and there was a hole.”
Lord Thunder’s injury tempers what was otherwise a big weekend for owner Marc Chan, with his exciting two-year-old Angel Bleu winning a second Group One in the space of three weeks when taking out Saturday’s Criterium International at Saint-Cloud in France.
Nervous Witness trialled over 1,050m on the all-weather track at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning, dispatching fellow 80-rater When You Believe by two and three-quarter lengths.
“It was more about just about giving him the outing, he’s getting very fresh with the six weeks between runs. He’s tracking in the right direction,” Hayes said.
After scintillating wins on opening day and National Day, Nervous Witness will next be seen in a Class Three 1,000m contest on November 7 before, all being well, progressing to a 1,000m Class Two on November 21 and a six-furlong 105-80-rated Class Two on international day in December.
“If things go the right way there’s a 1,200m on international day and we’ll run him around the bend for the first time,” Hayes said.
Regular jockey Zac Purton took Nervous Witness straight to the front and let him bowl along under his own steam.
“He’s a little bit fresh and he moved around a touch in the gate, he was a little bit awkward when he took that first step because he was a bit off balance but once he picked himself up he did everything right,” the jockey said.
If Nervous Witness is able to continue his winning streak throughout 2021 he would likely find himself on a rating north of 100 before heading off for a well-earned break.
Meanwhile, Hayes lost what looked his best chance at Wednesday night’s all-weather meeting at Sha Tin, with Master Aqua scratched on Tuesday morning with a lame right fore.
That leaves the championship-leading trainer with just two runners on the card – Poised To Strike in the Class Four Tin Ha Shan Handicap (1,200m) and Good Health in the Class Three Pyramid Hill Handicap (1,200m).
Good Health tries the dirt for the first time after a couple of mediocre runs on the turf to start the season and will be ridden by Keith Yeung Ming-lun from gate three, while 14-start Hong Kong maiden Poised To Strike makes his seasonal debut under Chad Schofield, who partnered him to victory in a 1,200m dirt trial earlier this month.
“Poised To Strike trialled well and he could go OK,” Hayes said.