After hitting the target at Sha Tin on Thursday, trainer Tony Millard will be hoping he can double up with a winner at Happy Valley on Sunday.
Millard was in the winner’s enclosure earlier this week when Super Hong Kong marked himself as an improving stayer in the Class Four Red Packet Handicap (2,000m) at Sha Tin and he has four chances of grabbing the winner’s share of the prize money at the Valley.
Sparkling Dragon represents the South African trainer in the Class Two Hip Wo Handicap (1,000m) and Millard is hoping he will fire, but feels he could be up against it as he takes on potential sprint star Nervous Witness.
“We’re just trying to get him back into form,” Millard said. “He’s doing his best but with those horses there are such limited opportunities to race, so you’ve got to take whatever you can. We’re hoping for a nice run from him but it’s going to be tough.”
While Sparkling Dragon has struggled to win this season, Millard’s Super Dobbin saluted for the first time in Hong Kong in his last start and will attempt to follow up that success in the Class Three Hoi Yuen Handicap (1,200m).
“He’s improved this season and he’s going better,” Millard said. “He’s a nice type and he’ll win another one or two.”
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Blastoise runs in the Class Three Hung To Handicap (1,650m) but his trainer is unsure as to how the inconsistent type will perform in his first start since leaving David Ferraris’ stable.
“I want to see him run before I make any opinion of him. He’s an OK horse and his trial was OK, so we’ll see how he goes,” Millard said.
It’s possible that Millard saves his best for last as Intrepid Winner takes on a couple of fellow Hong Kong Derby entrants in the final race on the card, the Class Three Mut Wah Handicap (1,800m).
“He’s a nice type and 1,800m will suit him,” Millard said. “I would have preferred if it was at Sha Tin but you can only do what the programme tells you. It’s going to be tough, there’s a couple of horses in there who are not too bad, but hopefully he’ll go well.”
Intrepid Winner faces some stiff competition, most notably from Derby entrant Rise Brethren. Danny Shum Chap-shing’s four-year-old will be partnered by Alexis Badel and the French rider has been impressed with his mount’s recent work.
“He feels good. He’s a fresh and happy horse, he gave me a nice feel in the mornings and seems to be in great shape,” Badel said.
Badel, who won the Class One Chinese New Year Cup (1,400m) on Cheerful Days at Sha Tin on Thursday, has no fears over the trip as Rise Brethren steps up to 1,800m for the first time, but is hoping for better fortune at the start.
“I definitely think the distance will be good for him,” Badel said. “He’s not been the luckiest so far but he’s certainly got ability.
“I think the major thing is to make him jump good from the gate – he’s half a stride slow out of the gate and I think the challenge is to put him into a nice rhythm, but he certainly should be able to win a race like this.”