Trainer Paul O’Sullivan is in something of a purple patch in form.
The New Zealander has saddled four winners and a further five top-four finishers at the past six meetings and is delighted with his recent upturn in fortune.
“It’s going well,” O’Sullivan said. “A lot of my horses are in a pretty good position in the handicap and most of them are running pretty consistently.”
Vukan’s win at Sha Tin on Saturday was the veteran Kiwi’s 16th of the season and he is on track to avoid a strike for failing the meet the Jockey Club’s trainers’ benchmark of 18 winners for those with a Conghua stable.
“It’s always nice to win a race and Hong Kong is a very tough place to win,” O’Sullivan said. “They should give out T-shirts with ‘I survived Hong Kong’ on them.”
O’Sullivan heads into the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday night with four runners spearheaded by stable favourite Harrier Jet in section two of the Class Four Shan Pui River Handicap (1,200m).
Now aged 10, he is in his seventh season with O’Sullivan and has picked up more than HK$8.5 million in prize money.
“He’s sound and he might have to get to Class Five to win but if he draws a gate, he’s always competitive,” O’Sullivan said.
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“A couple of wide gates and not getting in the money may mean he’ll be back in Class Five, but he’s still capable of winning at this level.”
Science Patch runs off bottom weight in the first section of the Class Three Kam Tin River Handicap (1,200m) off a mark of 60 and O’Sullivan has opted to run him at this higher level.
“We did that with Reve Parisien a couple of weeks back,” O’Sullivan said. “He was rated 60 and it turned out really well. Science Patch is pretty much on his mark but should run OK.”
Turquoise Hope has competed only at 1,200m in his first season in Hong Kong but O’Sullivan has taken the decision to drop him in trip to take in the Class Four Nam Chung River Handicap (1,000m).
“He’s always just been a bit weak in the last part of his races,” O’Sullivan said. “I’ll try him at the 1,000m, he’s got plenty of gate speed and we’ll just see how he goes.”
Meanwhile, O’Sullivan’s highest-rated horse Duke Wai is up to 104 points after winning a Class Two on the dirt two starts ago and he will be in action in the Group Three Sha Tin Vase (1,200m) on May 22.
“He’s a 100-point horse, that’s what he is, and he’ll run in the Group Three at the end of May,” O’Sullivan said. “I don’t know who else will be in that field as it can drop away a bit towards the end of the season. He’s been unbelievably consistent his whole life and done a great job.”
Tidy effort! 🙌 Duke Wai narrowly outlasts rivals in the feature at Sha Tin for @mattLchadwixk and Paul O'Sullivan. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/Z9EqLSBn2s— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) March 30, 2022
One of O’Sullivan’s flagbearers this season has been dirt specialist Apache Pass, who won his third race of the season last week, and he’ll have a couple more runs this campaign.
“He got here and had a few bad runs and then he bowed a tendon, ran off the track,” O’Sullivan.
“He did a hell of a lot wrong the first 18 months he was here. He’s certainly found his niche on the dirt but he’s up in Class Two now and the drop in weight might help him because he’s not a very big horse.
“I’ll give him a run at the Valley to keep his fitness up and then in about six weeks there is a Class Two over 1,650m on the dirt and that will see him through to the end of the season.”