Following back-to-back Sha Tin doubles either side of attending Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, David Hayes is wishing one of his Australian acquisitions for owner Leung Lun-ping will make him happy at the Valley for the first time since April.
Formerly known as Wish Master, Super Eagle’s pedigree page is not dripping with black type like that of Bon’s A Pearla, the 2021 Group Three Thousand Guineas Prelude (1,400m) winner and 2022 Group One Australian Guineas (1,600m) bronze medallist, who is progressing towards making her Hong Kong bow in Leung’s colours.
But Super Eagle did win his last start on Australian soil by four lengths, a 1,400m Pakenham handicap romp in which – according to ratings service Punting Form – the then Phillip Stokes-prepared gelding covered the first 800m 10.8 lengths faster than the standard time for that class of contest given the condition of the circuit in Victoria.
Also, Super Eagle smashed the clock and his Pakenham opponents despite lumping 133 pounds and jumping from the outside gate in the field of 11 runners.
Two weeks ago, Super Eagle returned from two months in Conghua. Three days after arriving back in Hong Kong, Super Eagle trialled at Happy Valley under Luke Currie, running on nicely to finish second behind Class Four placegetter Gem Of South China.
“He’s an aggressive horse. His trials have been really good, and we gave him a look around the Valley to try and have him ready to perform,” said Hayes of Super Eagle, who led on each of his past three Australian appearances, winning two of them.
“He led by 10 [lengths in Australia], but the tempo in Hong Kong is a lot faster. I wouldn’t be surprised if he led, but I’m hoping he can sit second or third with the Happy Valley tempo.”
Wednesday’s Class Three Admiralty Handicap (1,200m) line-up includes a couple of gallopers, Beauty Glory and Wine And Wine, likely to challenge Super Eagle for the lead, but the Hong Kong newcomer has drawn inside those two course-and-distance winners, so Hayes thinks the chestnut “should be competitive”.
“He wasn’t an expensive [private purchase], he’s got here and he looks to have thrived, so I’m hoping he can go through his classes a bit,” said Hayes, who has flagged Super Eagle as one of his horses to follow.
“However, it’s one thing being in slow-tempo trials. It’s another thing being in hard-run races. I want to see him do it in a competitive event.”
Hayes, whose 2020-21 Champion Griffin award winner Fantastic Treasure snapped his 497-day losing streak when he swooped to snatch Sunday’s Class Two Cheung Hong Handicap (1,200m) at Sha Tin, is joint top of this term’s trainers’ standings with five victories from five meetings, the same tally as two fellow former champs, Tony Cruz and Ricky Yiu Poon-fai.
But Hayes has not tasted success at Happy Valley since Casa Kingdom’s win on April 27, and Currie – for whom Super Eagle is one of six Wednesday conveyances – is still seeking to post his first victory this season.
Meanwhile, Karis Teetan is expected to miss at least another couple of meetings as a result of the thyroid condition that has sidelined him for the past week, with the Jockey Club confirming on Monday the Mauritian “will not be accepting any race riding engagements until further notice”.