Super Sunny Sing was the only Hong Kong Derby runner not to reappear between the city’s most prestigious race and the end of the 2022-23 campaign, something trainer Chris So Wai-yin hopes will hold his stable star in good stead this season.
While Derby victor Voyage Bubble and fifth placegetter Straight Arron made the step up to Group One level in their four-year-old campaigns, and Beauty Eternal, Tuchel, Sword Point and Encountered all landed post-Derby successes, Super Sunny Sing went to Conghua for a lengthy break.
“Before the Derby, he had already had seven starts for four wins. He had done a great job before the Derby, so we decided to give him a break and wait for the new season,” So said.
“After his four-year-old season, we expect the horse to improve, so we wanted to give him time to grow up from four to five. We didn’t have to squeeze him last season. He did a great job.
“He also had a tough race in the Derby, so giving him a break made sense.”
Sent off second favourite behind Beauty Eternal after winning the Classic Cup (1,800m), Super Sunny Sing failed to fire over the 2,000m of March’s Derby, finding little when the whips were cracking and finishing eighth.
So is confident mile and 1,800m contests will be Super Sunny Sing’s sweet spot this term, and it is the former the five-year-old tackles in Sunday’s Class Two Beijing Handicap after his eye-catching third over seven furlongs on opening day.
“For the first run over 1,400m carrying top weight after only one trial, he hit the line strongly. It was a good start,” So said of the gelding’s September 10 run under Matthew Chadwick, his first in nearly six months.
“Now it seems like 1,600m is the good distance for him – 1,600m or 1,800m – and this race was always the plan. We were happy last start and hopefully, this time, we get the result.”
Super Sunny Sing looks the clear stand-out in a Beijing Handicap featuring the likes of Spirited Express, Butterfield and Hava Nageela, with Vincent Ho Chak-yiu taking the reins from barrier five.
Ho was in the saddle for three of Super Sunny Sing’s wins last season, including the Classic Cup, and was also aboard in the Derby, but missed the galloper’s first-up run while recovering from injury.
So and Ho are keen to be ambitious with Super Sunny Sing this term – the Group Two Sha Tin Trophy (1,600m) on October 15 and the Group Three Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse (1,800m) in November look plausible targets – but the trainer is eager for his charge to bank a maiden Class Two victory first.
“That’s the plan, to put him in the big races, but we’ll see. Now he’s rated 94, so we need to win a race. After we win, we’ll think about the future, but now we’ll focus on each race as they come,” So said.
So also saddles Owners’ Star, Strive For Glory, Northern Beaches, Super Wise Dragon and Prosecco this weekend.