The horse with the best unbeaten record in Hong Kong racing is set to resume his career at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, returning to competitive action after coming out in sympathy with his trainer.
Flying Ace is the horse, David Hall is his trainer, and both of them are heading back to the races following a knee operation in recent months.
Victorious in all four of his races between December and March – each in tandem with Matthew Poon Ming-fai – Flying Ace’s career was put on hold in May when he underwent an arthroscopic procedure to remove bone fragments from his right knee.
Hall, who had both his knees replaced in September, has declared Flying Ace for Wednesday’s Class Three Speedy Handicap (1,200m) at Happy Valley, the scene of the first of the five-year-old’s four triumphs.
“Any horse who wins four from four is a better than average horse. It’s unfortunate he had the injury. You’ve got to reset and start again,” Hall said.
“Whether the injury is going to cause us any trouble going forward – touch wood – hopefully, everything stays the way it is at the moment. He’s trialled well. He seems comfortable. It’s time to go back to the races and see what he does under pressure.
“He’s an unbeaten horse, so you’d hope he’d continue it. He’s coming back from surgery. There’s always a question mark. Fingers crossed all goes well.”
Flying Ace’s unblotted copybook contains one win more than that of Lightning Warrior, the Tony Cruz-trained import who won three out of three – all at Newmarket – as Tatsumaki for Marco Botti but has not progressed beyond the trials in Hong Kong.
Neither Happy Valley nor gate eight is a concern for Hall leading into Flying Ace’s reappearance.
“He went to Happy Valley on his first start. He handled it no problem, so that gave us the confidence to go back there,” Hall said.
“You like to draw better than that at Happy Valley, but he’s won from those sort of draws before. He’s been ridden forward. He’s been ridden back. That’ll be up to Poon. He knows him well enough.”
Flying Ace is one of five Hall-trained horses among Wednesday’s declarations, with Lucky Missile, Melbourne Hall, Atullibigeal and Maldives rounding out the Melbourne Cup-winning handler’s quintet.
Hall has booked Zac Purton to ride Maldives again, which is ironic in light of the jockey’s recent revelation he injured one of his feet while being a “Group One idiot” holidaying on the archipelago.
Maldives resumed from the outside gate at Sha Tin on October 1 and the barrier computer has not been kind to him again for his second-up run at Happy Valley.
“He’s drawn in the car park. He’s getting used to outside draws. He might as well put his shorts and thongs on and go to the beer garden,” joked Hall.
As Wednesday will be the last of the Jockey Club’s three Oktoberfest-themed beer garden nights, perhaps lederhosen and clogs would be more appropriate apparel if horses could wear human attire.