He knows what it feels like to go into a BMW Hong Kong Derby bearing the weight of expectation and while the spotlight is shining brightest on one of Super Sunny Sing’s rivals, Chris So Wai-yin is confident he has his “best chance so far” of winning the HK$24 million feature.
So might have only had three Derby runners in his near decade-long Hong Kong training career, but he has had a favourite in the city’s most prestigious race in the form of 2015’s $3.2 chance, Redkirk Warrior.
Super Sunny Sing looks poised to start second elect for a race where much of the talk has centred around the John Size-trained Beauty Eternal, who is expected to be odds-on come Sunday.
So reflects briefly on the day Redkirk Warrior was crowded for room for much of the straight before finishing 11th under Joao Moreira, prior to swiftly shifting his focus back to his latest chance at Derby glory.
We're just a few days away from the 2023 HK$24 million @BMW Hong Kong Derby... 👀— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) March 16, 2023
Here's @zpurton's first win in the race aboard Luger in 2015... will the five-time champion rider claim another on Sunday? #4YOSeries #HKracing pic.twitter.com/rZgqL53lOl
“Of course, Redkirk Warrior was a little bit unlucky in the Derby. At that moment the horse was everyone’s focus and he got a traffic jam in the race. But that’s just part of racing. We have to accept the result because that’s part of it,” he said.
“Since Super Sunny Sing started to win at 1,400m, 1,600m and 1,800m, I’ve thought we’ve had a good horse for the Derby. He tells us he should handle the distance, so I think he’s the best chance for me so far among the couple of Derby horses I’ve had.”
While So is looking to etch himself into Derby history for the first time, Super Sunny Sing’s owners, the Wong family – who founded Kwoon Chung Bus Holdings – are dreaming of a third victory in the city’s most prestigious race.
“They’ve won a couple times, that’s why I told them that – even though I don’t have the experience – I really want to win this time,” So said. “But last year’s second horse – California Spangle – has since won a Group One. Everyone wants to win the Derby, but it’s not the ending. We’ll just try out best to run a good race for the owner and the public.”
Matthew Wong Leung-pak was part of the syndicate that owned 2009 Derby winner Collection, while his brother Frank Wong Wing-pak took out the 1995 edition of the race with Makarpura Star.
It’s Matthew’s daughter, Janice Wong Oi-ying, whose name is under Super Sunny Sing’s in the form guide.
“The horse is under my name, but of course, it’s a family horse,” Janice confirmed, while the symmetry is not lost on Matthew.
“Every 14 years, I hope,” he smiled. “The first one was Makarpura Star in 1995, the second one was Collection in 2009, so I hope Super Sunny Sing can win in 2023.”
What a day for @Vincenthocy!? 🙌 The Gold Cup and Classic Cup go home with the 32-year-old as Super Sunny Sing sweeps to victory for Chris So. #4YOSeries | #HKracing pic.twitter.com/UOW29aIYNi— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 26, 2023
Super Sunny Sing has already delivered some history for connections, providing So with his biggest career win so far through his victory in the Classic Cup – a race in which the Wong family’s Sunny Sing finished second in 2006.
Completing the puzzle is jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu, who won the Derby aboard Golden Sixty in 2020 and was in the saddle for Super Sunny Sing’s Classic Cup success last month.
“I think the horse has a good chance, so I’m relaxed and I’m looking forward to it,” Ho said.