Luke Middlebrook: Hong Kong racing action remains at Sha Tin on Monday for an action-packed day’s racing with two Graded races to sink one’s teeth into.
Big news last week, however, with star sprinter Classique Legend’s Hong Kong career over after bleeding at trackwork at Sha Tin last Wednesday morning.
Trainer Caspar Fownes said Classique Legend will return to Australia after he was slapped with a compulsory three-month ban after the bleed, which instantly ruled him out of Monday’s Group 2 Sprint Cup and the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize on 25 April.
Reportedly, Classique Legend will now return to the Sydney stables of his former trainer Les Bridge, who will try to bring him back to defend his title in the world’s richest turf race, The Everest in October.
Meanwhile, trainer John Size also confirmed that his top sprinter Hot King Prawn will be side-lined for the remainder of the season after a tough campaign.
“He’s fine, he’s had a bit of racing this season – he won his Group 1 as a six-year-old, which I was hoping he could do. He’s feeling the effects of that and just wants a bit of time off,” Size told local press. “I don’t think there’s much point in trying to persevere with the season, I’ll give him a break. I’ll try him as a seven-year-old and if he wants to train we’ll go to the races and if not, we’ll forget about it.”
With two big names instantly gone from the sprinting ranks, it makes up-and-coming sprinter Wellington’s job easier in Race 9, the Sprint Cup over 1200m.
Wellington has asserted himself the new kid on the block after a devastating win in a ratings 95+ Class 1 Handicap over this distance 23 days ago. The six-time winner from eight put paid to some top-class rivals that day, dashing clear 1.25 lengths the better of his nearest rival posting a blistering finishing time of 1:07.80 seconds and with a slick 21.62 second final 400m sectional.
The barrier gods haven’t been kind to Wellington with a handout of barrier No 12 of 13 to the four-year-old. Main rival Sky Field will jump from barrier No 10 while pace influence Computer Patch might cart the former two into a position early from barrier No 9.
In the other feature race on the day, the Grade 2 Chairman’s Trophy over 1600m, quality six-year-old Waikuku will aim to continue his winning ways and score a double.
Waikuku races fourth-up this week after demolishing his rivals last start in the Grade 1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup over 1400m 43 days ago. A seven-time winner from 18 starts, Waikuku returned to his best form that day when third-up this preparation after an eight-month spell, sprinting sharply inside the final 400m to coast away passing the 200m for a soft 1.25-length win over many of this week’s rivals.
The John Size-trained gelding has since trialled strongly, taking out his heat in dominant fashion to suggest he remains in fine fettle, but just a small field of six will make the race a highly tactical affair and it should be a blanket finish.