He pounced as a $58 chance in this race 12 months ago and trainer David Hall is hoping his “old marvel” Flying Quest can again thrive on a step up to 2,000m for Monday’s Class Two Hong Kong Sports Institute 30th Anniversary Cup.
The nine-year-old has made a consistent start to his sixth Hong Kong campaign and is showing his trainer no signs that he’s had enough ahead of his 56th start in the jurisdiction.
“He’s a bit of an old marvel. You’re sort of waiting for the day when he might put his hand up and say he’s done his job but he’s racing so well and he’s enjoying it, so we’ll keep going,” Hall said.
“Every time you turn up in those longer races there’s never a lot of depth so it’d be nice if he can back up and win it again.”
While Flying Quest hasn’t won out of turn in recent times and that victory last December was his most recent success, he’s been improving with each run this season.
With seven wins from his 55 Hong Kong starts and over HK$9.3 million in prize money, Flying Quest owes connections nothing but he might just be in a position to deliver something any way and there are a number of reasons he looks poised for a big showing after finishing only a neck away in fourth over 1,800m last month.
The son of Alamosa has a near-flawless record over the course and distance, gracing the Sha Tin 2,000m only twice for a win and a half-length second to subsequent Group One winner Panfield in February this year.
Both of those 10-furlong efforts have come under the guidance of Matthew Poon Ming-fai and the 28-year-old takes the reins from the injured Zac Purton.
Fresh off victories at the past two meetings, the in-form Poon will be confident he can get the best out of Flying Quest despite drawing barrier eight in the nine-horse contest.
Among the eight opponents Flying Quest comes up against are a couple he defeated last year, with Enjoying and Helene Leadingstar fronting up again, while Berlin Tango is backing up a touch over a fortnight after finishing a respectable seventh in the Group One Hong Kong Cup and Derby hopefuls Senor Toba and Hit The Shot also line up.
Elsewhere on Monday, Hall saddles up Maldives in the Class Three Karate Handicap (1,400m), another in-form galloper returning to a favourable trip with a familiar jockey climbing aboard in the absence of Purton.
“Blake [Shinn] will ride him. He’s had one [recent] ride for one win on him so it was the obvious choice to put him back on him,” Hall said.
“He’s been up in Conghua for a bit of a midseason rest and he goes back to 1,400m – the last time we did that with him he was successful. I’m sure if he gets the right sort of speed he’ll be strong, he’s always a pretty genuine horse.”
Maldives enters the race on the back of consecutive seconds and faces the likes of Master Hero and Horsesain Bolt.