David Hayes has confirmed he will shift his sights to the Classic Mile with up-and-comer Lucky With You if the galloper delivers another good performance on Sunday.
Lucky With You tackles 1,400m for the first time in the final race on the card at Sha Tin and provided he finishes strongly, the first leg of the four-year-old series on January 30 will remain firmly in the equation.
Hayes holds no stamina fears as the gelding attempts to extend his unbeaten run this season to three in the Class Three Hoi Lai Handicap.
“He seems really good. It’s his first try at the distance but I actually think he might be better at it,” Hayes said.
“Last start was the first time he’s hit the line and if there has been a criticism of him, he’s been a little soft the last 50m of his races, except for the last run where he smashed the line.
“According to [jockey Karis] Teetan, the only reason he didn’t before was because he was daydreaming in front.
“The other day, as he’s getting more experience, he was powerful through the line, which really made me feel good about him.”
Hayes also knows exactly what he needs to see from Lucky With You this weekend to justify any Classic Mile claims.
“He doesn’t have to win, he has just got to run well,” Hayes said. “I want him to win but if he doesn’t and just gets beaten, it wouldn’t put me off. It just depends how his last furlong is, if he’s strong through the line.”
Lucky With You must contend with another smart youngster on a potential Classic Series path in Danny Shum Chap-shing’s Romantic Warrior and the race could feature a fascinating clash of styles.
The Hayes-trained runner has not seen another rival when making all the running in his two wins this season and he could set the race up perfectly for Romantic Warrior, who has finished strongly from midfield to win all three of his Hong Kong starts under Joao Moreira, but Hayes is not convinced that Lucky With You needs to force the pace.
“I haven’t done enough homework on the pace but most of his training has been done from behind so it wouldn’t worry me to sit behind – it’s just circumstantial that he’s led in his four races,” Hayes said.
“At 1,400m tempo he might lead, if he does I don’t care but I’m very happy to follow the pace if there is some.”
The Australian trainer also has some big-race targets in mind for Helene North Star, who runs in the Class Three Lai Kok Handicap (1,600m).
After a disappointing 12th in his first start in Hong Kong last month, the four-year-old is expected to perform better this time.
“I’m thinking the Classic Cup and the Derby with him,” Hayes said. “I liked his trial the other day and he’s done a couple of good pieces of work. I think he’s a horse to follow out of the race.
It's all happening at Sha Tin! 😮 Alcari crosses the line first but the result is overturned due to interference, handing Metro Warrior the win. @lindsayparkrace @Vincenthocy #HKracing pic.twitter.com/5BWW5na4Qi— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) January 9, 2022
“He’s got plenty of time to get qualified – if he fluked winning, I’d head towards the Classic Mile but if not it’s definitely the Classic Cup and the Derby.”
Metro Warrior also represents Hayes on Sunday and the sprinter backs up just seven days after being awarded victory in the Sha Tin stewards’ room. That “win” came over 1,000m but this time he stretches out to 1,200m.
“He’s rock-hard fit, in terrific form and we will see if he’s at his mark or not. After this he is probably going to have a breather and come back later in the season,” Hayes said.