Ricky Yiu claimed last year’s trainers’ title with 67 wins. Photo by HKJC.

Back-to-back bid for Voyage Warrior in Easter Monday’s G2 Sprint Cup

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

02/04/2021

By Declan Schuster, for the HKJC.

 

Ricky Yiu has a strong reputation when it comes to nurturing sprint talents, his four wins in the G2 Sprint Cup (1200m) are unrivalled among other exploits and on Easter Monday (5 April) he heads to Sha Tin with Voyage Warrior carrying the hopes of his team in a bid for back-to-back triumphs in the HK$4.5 million contest.

Searching for a record-setting fifth Sprint Cup victory, Yiu is pinning his hopes on added improvement from the third-season chestnut as he continues his march towards the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) on FWD Champions Day (25 April).

“I still think there is something left in the tank – I don’t really think we’ve seen his best,” Yiu said of the 113-rater who has five wins from 16 starts in Hong Kong.

The five-year-old is looking to bounce back after a below par ninth at the tail of the field in a 1200m Class 1 contest last start, while Wellington – who he meets again – finished a further seven and a half lengths in front of him.

“Early on, I think he was caught too far back last start and that’s what cost him the race, but I have a lot of faith in him – he’s doing well,” the handler said.

Yiu’s past heroics in the sprint realm include Sacred Kingdom’s world champion status, Amber Sky’s Dubai glory, Ultra Fantasy’s Japan conquest and Fairy King Prawn’s trailblazing exploits in the late ‘90s.

And, he won the first three editions of the Monday’s Sprint Cup in succession with Sacred Kingdom (2008 and 2009) and Ultra Fantasy (2010) before his sometimes puzzling chestnut shot clear at 23/1 for a three-quarter length score under light rain exactly 12 months ago.

“Vincent (Ho) won on him last year and there was a bit of cut in the ground but it’s not really necessary, although it seems as though there is a little bit of rain forecast to start on Thursday (1 April),” Yiu said.

Prior to his ninth over a fortnight ago, the Australian-bred son of Declaration Of War finished a commendable fourth in the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) after attempting to make all as the market’s second elect behind Hot King Prawn, the eventual winner.

But Monday’s contest is without Hot King Prawn and Classique Legend, although the likes of Wishful Thinker, Computer Patch, Regency Legend, Sky Field and Winning Dreamer all still feature.

“The race is more even but I’m having a bad time with the draws these days,” last year’s champion trainer said.

Ruan Maia, who notched his third Hong Kong win at Sha Tin’s midweek all-dirt fixture, will take the reins and the pair will break from gate 11.

“He (Ruan Maia) jumped him (Voyage Warrior) out from the 1800 metre chute on the grass at Sha Tin on Monday (29 March) and he worked really, really well,” Yiu said.

Yiu also saddles Mighty Giant in the G2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) off the back of a fast-closing third to Waikuku in February’s G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m).

“He’s done well at Conghua but he’s a horse who always tries to please you,” Yiu said.

Such is the chestnut’s consistency he has six wins from 14 starts and four other top-three efforts but is yet to finish better than fourth in three attempts over the mile.

“Over the mile, although he has had a couple of attempts, I do think that he can get the extra 200 metres,” Yiu said.

Irishman Neil Callan retains the ride for Monday’s HK$4.5 million contest and the duo will depart from gate three.

 

Beauty Applause for Size in Monday’s G2 Sprint Cup

 

Initially with two entered for Monday’s G2 Sprint Cup, 11-time champion trainer John Size will be represented solely by Beauty Applause as Hot King Prawn is rested for the remainder of the 2021 racing season.

 

John Size has 54 wins this season.
John Size has 54 wins this season.

 

“He’s had enough for the season, this is his six-year-old year and he won two races including a Group 1 but he’s just had enough for the time being, so I’ve put him away for the season and I’ll try to get him going as a seven-year-old, and if he’s happy to work up we’ll go to the races,” Size said.

After winning January’s G1 Centenary Sprint Cup, Hot King Prawn subsequently finished fifth in last month’s Class 1 dash behind Wellington.

Beauty Applause, a flashy chestnut son of Stratum, brings a last-start fourth at Happy Valley to Sha Tin ahead of his first foray at Pattern race level.

“The race is there and he’s on a mark of 102, there’s not much on for him so we’ll try this, he likes the course and distance so you never know,” Size said.

Joao Moreira will ride the 102-rater and the pair will set off from gate seven, the Brazilian also pairs with Waikuku from barrier four in the day’s other G2 contest, the Chairman’s Trophy.

“He seems fine, he hasn’t taken a backward step, he seems in very good shape, he’s been trialling well, his trackwork is normal and he’s healthy and sound – he should run well again,” the handler said.

Champion’s Way forms a two-pronged assault for size in the Chairman’s Trophy and will be paired with Chad Schofield from gate one.

Easter Monday’s (5 April) 10-race fixture at Sha Tin kicks off at 1pm with section one of the Class 4 Lugard Handicap (1200m).

 

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Photo by HKJC.

Back-to-back bid for Voyage Warrior in Easter Monday’s G2 Sprint Cup

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

03/10/19

 

Mark this date down on your calendar, October 12. Aethero versus Voyage Warrior, two rockets launching over 1000m at Sha Tin. Oh, and adding some more spice, Joao Moreira replaces archrival Zac Purton on Aethero, with the Australian already booked to ride Voyage Warrior.

The mouth-watering clash between two of Hong Kong’s best young sprinters comes about after it all went wrong for Aethero last weekend in his Class 2 debut over 1200m.

It was a horror watch for backers of the favourite and the defeat has forced trainer John Moore into a re-think of Aethero’s program. The Hong Kong Sprint is still the aim, but Moore is wary of another deep-end experience at Group 2 level next start and is also aware the 89-rated three-year-old now needs a big win if he is to make the field in December.

“It’s all about getting that rating up,” said Moore, who will also enter 92-rated Thanks Forever in the same race.

“He (Aethero) was still obviously very green. But now he will be fitter for that and comes back to a much simpler task.

“I don’t care Voyage Warrior is there, we can’t avoid one horse, and we need the ratings points.”

Voyage Warrior’s trainer Ricky Yiu had a spring in his step earlier on Thursday morning when talking about his star, due to trial on Friday, but that was before he had been told Aethero would be there.

“That might ruin Ricky’s day when he finds out Aethero is going to be there,” Moore said. “It will be a great race and a measure of where both horses are at.”

 

Another record

It wasn’t hard to find an excuse for Aethero – he received 15 mentions in the incidents report, which might be a record – and history shows that Class 2 is a big step for young horses on the rise.

Amber Sky (1.2), Pakistan Star (1.4) and Moore’s former star Able Friend (2.5) were recent examples of hot favourites rolled over when stepping out in Class 2 for the first time.

All three went on to win Group 1s and Aethero has Group 1 quality written all over him. To have the torrid run he experienced at just his third start and still finish third was a sign of real quality.

 

Best chance to beat the champ

Was Tuesday’s Group 3 Celebration Cup the best chance for rivals to beat Beauty Generation this season? That was the view from some, citing the now seven-year-old’s soft condition as he returned from a long lay-off at a record weight of 1161 pounds.

Another opinion is that it will be second up over a mile for the Sha Tin Trophy that Beauty Generation will be most susceptible to having his 10-race winning sequence snapped.

 

Beauty Generation conceded weight all round and still won well fresh-up on Tuesday. Photo by HKJC.

 

Beauty Generation wasn’t the only horse underdone on Tuesday; the fast-finishing fourth Southern Legend was nowhere near ready, and he was given a easier time of it and allowed to go past tired horses late with a confidence builder. Next time he gets 15 pounds from Beauty Generation, who ran a track record time and was asked for some serious effort late.

So should those working on a Beauty Generation superannuation scheme fear the second-up bounce less than three weeks after the big first up effort? Moore was having none of it.

“I think he will be even better second up,” he said. “He has pulled up well and he will strip a lot fitter for that run.”

 

Record caveat 

On times: the phrase “track record time” does need to be treated with caution. It’s tracks that break records, not horses. A quick look in the opening pages of any racebook can tell you that, in most turf jurisdictions it often isn’t champions filling the record categories.

Silent Witness, whose 1000m record of 55.30s for the Class (Group/Premier) had stood for more than 14 years, is an exception, but Full Of Beauty lowered that by 0.34s on Tuesday. The placegetters Jolly Banner and Wishful Thinker both went faster too. The closest any of them will ever get to Silent Witness is when they go past his statue at the 300m mark.

The 1000m Sha Tin Class record (Group/Premier) held by Silent Witness was broken on Tuesday. Photo by HKJC.

 

Again, behind Beauty Generation in the Celebration Cup, runner-up Ka Ying Star lowered the old mark and Waikuku equalled it on a day when Sha Tin sizzled.

Times were well under standard on the undercard and, not surprisingly on a hot day, the track got faster as the meeting progressed with all but two of the other races more than half a second under standard time for the class.

Beauty Generation now holds three of Sha Tin’s track records, the 1400m mark sitting alongside distance bests at 1600m and 2200m.

 

Popular South African hating on the champ

The celebratory post-race Tweets of George Moore, son of John, caused some mirth when he claimed Beauty Generation “silenced the haters” with the dominant win.

 

What haters? The horse was $1.40 and was trending on Twitter.

Moore hinted that the Tweets were aimed at South African-trainer Tony Millard, who has enjoyed a feud with the bloodstock agent for many years now.

Millard has been bullish about the chances of his miler Singapore Sling beating Beauty Generation in the Sha Tin Trophy and is sure to have something entertaining to say in the lead-up.

 

Cut short

There was no Happy Valley meeting this week and racing returns to Sha Tin on Sunday with a 10-race card and we will be watching the clock with interest.

With the track running hot last Tuesday it will be interesting viewing as the maintenance team enter a difficult transitional period.

With the seasons changing, the track shifts from predominantly Bermuda to rye, and the grass needs to be cut shorter to allow the rye to poke through and see some sunlight.

Blue sky and less pollution, something that reached dangerous levels early in the week, is what is required.

The course proper crew cut can mean an even flatter, faster surface through November as the HKJC aim to produce a thick, green carpet for international day in December.

 

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