John Size believes one-time wunderkind Courier Wonder “wasn’t strong enough” to match it with the best last season, but the 11-time champion trainer is looking forward to seeing how his sprinter, who lines up in Sunday’s Group Two Premier Bowl (1,200m), goes as a five-year-old.
After winning his first five starts, a 2020-21 winning streak that culminated with victory in the Group Three Sha Tin Vase (1,200m), Courier Wonder could not live up to his market quotes in four Group contests last term.
After starting favourite in two Group Twos, Courier Wonder was sent off the $4.5 second elect in the Group One Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m), in which he finished third.
He then jumped the $3.9 favourite in January’s Group One Centenary Sprint Cup (1,200m), but was found to have substantial blood in his trachea after his disappointing sixth.
Size has been patient with the sprinter, who has had two quiet trials under Zac Purton in the past three weeks.
“He didn’t have any particular issues. He just didn’t have the strength as a four-year-old to compete and go on with these older, tougher horses. My impression of him was he wasn’t strong enough at that point in his life,” Size said.
“Sometimes, if you do well as a three-year-old and go up in class pretty quickly, all of sudden you’re left wanting.
“I gave him a break. He seems strong enough now. He’s certainly had the opportunity. We’ll begin a programme and see how we go.
“He scoped with blood but he hasn’t shown anything like that recently, and that might have been a sign of his stress at that age.”
Size also has Group Two placegetter Sight Success lining up in Sunday’s feature, his first race since May.
“He’s doing good. Again, he got up to Class Two pretty quickly, and then he was stationary at that for a while,” Size said.
“He came back as a five-year-old and he went on with it, which a lot of the older, upper-class horses do – they need that little bit of maturity.
“He raced remarkably well last season. He’s 113, it’s a fairly high figure, but if he can grab prize money, he’s done very well.”
One of the opponents who Courier Wonder will lock horns with is Lucky Sweynesse, another galloper who has raced through his grades and will attempt to measure up in Group company.
Lucky Sweynesse has rocketed to a rating of 112 thanks to six wins from his first eight starts, the latest of which came in the Class One HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup (1,200m).
Zac Purton returns to the saddle after Silvestre de Sousa had the reins last start, with Lucky Sweynesse carrying 124 pounds after lumping only 115 on opening day.
Good horse, Lucky Sweynesse! 🤯— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) September 11, 2022
Hong Kong's Champion Griffin (2021/22) bolts in under @SilvDSousa to capture the Class 1 HKSAR Chief Executive's Cup for trainer Manfred Man. 🔥🔥#SeasonOpener | #HKracing pic.twitter.com/tAshB27NZb
“He certainly keeps raising the bar every start. He was impressive last time with no weight on his back,” Purton said.
“He carries a little bit more this time around and he’s drawn really awkwardly, so it’s a big task ahead of him, but he deserves his place in the field and we’ll see how he goes.
“It was certainly impressive. He was slow out of the gates, he had to do a lot of work in the early and mid stages to get the position he had in a really fast-run race, and then he accelerated very nicely when he was asked and put them to bed. He couldn’t have been any more impressive, really.”