John Size is in pole position to claim his 12th trainers’ championship this season and he is firing plenty of ammunition at the two big races at Sha Tin on Saturday.
With 52 winners, Size is two ahead of Frankie Lor Fu-chuen at the top of the trainers’ table and he will be hoping to extend that margin, having pretty much a third of the field in both this weekend’s top races.
In the opening Class One Nam Wan Handicap (1,600m), Size saddles two of the six-strong field in Excellent Proposal and Champion’s Way and has enlisted the services of Hong Kong’s top two jockeys.
Excellent Proposal has the assistance of Joao Moreira in the saddle as he attempts to return to the form that resulted in him winning the Classic Mile and hitting the frame in the Classic Cup and Hong Kong Derby last year, and the galloper gets the Size nod of approval here.
“He raced well in the four-year-old series last season and got himself a decent rating through that,” Size said. “I think it’s just taken him some time to get used to it so he’ll probably run a pretty good race and this might be a suitable event for him.”
Size is always wary of small fields producing unexpected results but is sure Excellent Proposal could be primed for a return to his best.
“It’s a small field and they are always very tricky in the way they are run. You can sometimes get an unusual result but he should acquit himself very well,” Size said.
Champion’s Way will be ridden by title-chaser Zac Purton and has proved to be ultra-consistent in the past two seasons, winning once and finishing in the first five in another 10 of his 17 races.
Size is expecting more of the same but he may have to again settle for minor prize money.
“He’s been pretty consistent in what he’s done in the last couple of years,” Size said. “He can run a really good race occasionally and he’s got some sort of chance in a handicap again.”
Size saddles three of the 10-strong field in the Class One Lam Tsuen Handicap (1,200m) with Hot King Prawn heading the weights after a string of decent efforts in top company.
Last season’s Group One Centenary Sprint Cup winner has proved himself at the highest level but is forced to carry 133 pounds at the head of the handicap and has been handed a tough outside draw in stall 10.
“The horse has been OK and seems well,” Size said. “He’s been trialling OK and moving well so I think he’ll run a good race.”
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Lucky Express is another Size contender and he’ll be running in blinkers for the first time in an effort to extract maximum effort from a horse whose two wins have come first-up for the season.
“He’s been quite consistent in Hong Kong and he’s done well,” Size said. “He’s run quite a few places but he seems to just lack a bit in the finish of some of his races, so we’ll change the gear on him and see if it makes any difference.”
Sight Success is the last of Size’s runners and he has already won three times this season and been placed at Group Three level.
“He’s rated 105 so he’s inside the rating band for this,” Size said. “He’s in the right range and he gets the opportunity to be seen with them.”