Fresh from ending the 16-race winning streak of Hong Kong superstar Golden Sixty with Waikuku in last weekend’s Stewards’ Cup, trainer John Size is seeking yet more big-race glory at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The Australian handler holds three chances of saluting in the Classic Mile and feels the likely fast pace will suit Master Delight despite him being drawn closest to the Shing Mun river in stall 14.
“He might appreciate a race with a true tempo, that’s what we’re hoping for,” Size said.
“I think he has difficulty sprinting off a slow speed so if there’s a bit more pressure in the race that might help him.”
Master Delight will be ridden by Joao Moreira, who had plenty of potential partners in this valuable contest. The Magic Man’s commitment means Vagner Borges gets the leg up on Sight Spirit, who has won his last three races, and Size feels he may still be slightly under the radar.
“He’s fairly well underrated at present but he hasn’t had too many opportunities,” Size said. “He’s won his last three and he’s still improving so we’ll give him a chance in the four-year-old series and see how far he gets.”
Golden Sixty’s winning streak comes to an end as Waikuku shocks superstar
The final Size representative is Blaze Warrior, who needs to bounce back from a couple of disappointing runs.
“He has struggled his last couple of starts in Class Two but I’m hoping that as he comes back to racing against his own age, we might notice the difference. Hopefully he goes a bit better at 1,600m,” Size said.
Sitting just three winners behind Frankie Lor Fu-chuen in the trainers’ championship, Size hopes Excellent Proposal will help him to close that gap in the Group Three Centenary Vase (1,800m).
The five-year-old finished third over an inadequate 1,400m last time and Size is confident he’ll be showing his best up in trip here.
“His best performance is 1,600m when he won the Classic Mile but he did run well at 1,800m and the Derby in the four-year-old series,” Size said.
“This season his big mile assignment was probably not ideal for him because the [Hong Kong] Mile was a slow-run race, he raced a little bit handy and he might not have appreciated that. That might not have been an indication of his true form.
Blake Shinn and Excellent Proposal victorious in dramatic Classic Mile
“On Sunday, he’s got an 1,800m race that looks like it’s got a decent tempo with two leaders there in Ka Ying Star and Reliable Team and hopefully he can relax the first half of the race and run home.”
Excellent Proposal faces plenty of top-level performers in the Centenary Vase, not least last season’s Group One Champions & Chater Cup winner Panfield.
The Tony Millard-trained runner will be partnered for the first time by Australian jockey Blake Shinn, who is delighted to have picked up such a showcase ride.
“He’s a quality horse and I was delighted with his trial,” Shinn said.
“He’s obviously a Group One winner and probably the best stayer in Hong Kong, so I’m rapt to be riding him. He’s ultra-consistent and you cant discount him in any race.”
While Panfield has already proved himself at the highest level, Zebrowski is out to continue his march to the top. A winner at Group Three level last time, his trainer Caspar Fownes believes he can continue to progress.
“He remains in good form. Obviously the handicap conditions are again going to suit him for this race and I’m happy with him,” Fownes said.
“We’re trying to get his rating up as high as we can, he’s the type of horse that, towards the end of the season, the Queen Mother [Memorial Cup] and Champions & Chater [Cup] could play into his hands quite nicely.
“He’s a nice, progressive horse and he just keeps improving. He’s raced very consistently since day one and long may it continue.”