David Hayes has young gun Naboo Attack primed and ready for Sunday’s HK$24 million Longines Hong Kong Sprint and the stable warmed up for the big day in style on Wednesday.
There was a double that was a little bit of the old and a whole lot of the new and a tasty HK$200,000 as the leading trainer across the four International Jockeys’ Championship races on the night.
“It’s nice to keep things moving and long may it continue,” was Hayes’ response to the wins, which marked back-to-back Happy Valley doubles for the stable.
In the first leg of the Longines International Jockey Championship – the Class Four fourth over 1,000m – visiting Tom Marquand had Awesome Treasure up and handy to the turn and then drove his mount hard in the run to the line.
12 points for @TomMarquand! The British ace takes the 1st Leg of the @LONGINES #IJC with a well-timed steer aboard Awesome Treasure. #HKIR #HKracing pic.twitter.com/2wjL5tFA1U— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) December 8, 2021
The four-year-old put the writing on the wall with a second on debut at Sha Tin back in October, but missed his next scheduled outing due to a lameness issues after whacking his knee on a feed bin.
“It was a good effort considering he’s racing short of his best distance,” Hayes said of Awesome Treasure. “He got taken off the bit and I was a bit worried but he showed he’s got a bit, he dug in well.”
Before that, it was up to one of the stable’s seasoned campaigners to kick the night off in the second as Fearless Fire made the first section of the Class Four France Handicap (1,650m) a one-horse affair.
The seven-year-old’s cause was helped – considerably – by a ride of supreme confidence from Australian Blake Shinn.
Tom Marquand out to emulate fiancée Hollie Doyle in tasting International Jockeys’ Championship success for David Hayes
They took the lead on the jump and improved with every stride from there on in. It was an effort that had his compatriot beaming post-race.
“Blake has adjusted to Hong Kong,” said Hayes. “He used to wait a bit too long and now he gets going early and he times it beautifully. He works so hard, and he’s got a good record on this horse.”
It was the drop in grade and the tidy draw (three) that helped Fearless Fire register his fourth win over the course and distance while taking Shinn’s total to eight for the season.
He was grateful for the opportunity to reunite with a horse he partnered to three wins over the extended mile last season.
Fearless Fire & @blake_shinn prove too strong in the second race on @LONGINES #IJC night! @lindsayparkrace #HappyWednesday #HKracing pic.twitter.com/OmJiddOjNi— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) December 8, 2021
“He’s been a great horse to me and a great horse to David and the team,” said Shinn. “He’s a horse you can rely on. I said he’s one of the toughest horses in Hong Kong, he mightn’t be the best, but you can really trust him.”
The night came to a close with a Class Two over 1,800m and another stellar performance from Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s rising star Fa Fa, who made it five on end after Vincent Ho Chak-yiu stalked the leaders before making his move about 200m from home.
Hayes will now be all about Naboo Attack as he shifts his attention to the Group One meeting on Sunday.
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He gave the hulking five-year-old a decent stretch out on Tuesday, with the blinkers applied, but Hayes is of the opinion they won’t be needed when the horse helps fly the flag for the locals against Japanese raiders Danon Smash, Pixie Knight and Resistencia on Sunday.
“I was toying with it,” said Hayes. “I gave him a gallop and I just thought he reacted a bit aggressively on the home turn so, in consultation with Karis [Teetan], we decided to run him without.