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Beat The Clock’s Hong Kong Sprint defence in doubt as John Size provides update on stars

Star sprinter Beat The Clock is no guarantee to defend his crown in this year’s Group One Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m) on international day, with trainer John Size saying “everything would have to go correctly” between now and December 13.

The four-time Group One winner hasn’t been seen at the races since his fifth in February’s Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup and he is yet to trial this season.

“I’ve always been conservative about this season because of his age and the fact that he only had four runs last season,” Size said.

“He could [make it to international day] but everything would have to go correctly, so I couldn’t envisage it at this point.

“He’s a seven-year-old now and he might struggle to get going, I just want to see if he’s OK – if I’m not happy with him I’m not going to force him to go to the races. I’ve got nothing definite, I’ll make the decision in the next couple of weeks.”

There have been reports of Beat The Clock suffering from arthritis and Size knows the horse will go out a champion regardless of what happens from here.

“Every horse has got some little thing with their joints. If I can’t get him going, I can’t get him going. It doesn’t bother me – he’s won four Group Ones so it doesn’t matter,” Size said.

Things are clearer for a couple of Size’s other top-liners, with Stewards’ Cup winner Waikuku most likely to resume in the Group Two Jockey Club Mile on November 22.

“He worked today and there’s nothing stopping him. He probably won’t get there [for the Group Two Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy (1,600m)] on October 18 but I’d say he’ll run on November 22 and have just one run before the [Hong Kong Mile],” Size said.

Hot King Prawn won nicely in a trial last week and will chase his maiden Group One success in the Hong Kong Sprint, with his preparation to include both the Group Two Premier Bowl (1,200m) and the Group Two Jockey Club Sprint (1,200m).

Meanwhile, Size heads to Happy Valley on Wednesday night with four runners and hopes a switch to the city circuit can help Beauty Applause return to his best.

The five-year-old has one four times from 13 starts at Sha Tin but heads into the Class Two Big Wave Bay Handicap (1,200m) amid a run of outs dating back to December last year.

“It might suit him, he could have got a better gate but he’s certainly going to run well there,” Size said of the gelding, who jumps from barrier 10 under Joao Moreira. “He’s got some pace and he’s a Sha Tin winner a few times, so he’ll be strong enough.”

Moreira also rides Wild West Wing for Size, with the four-year-old heading into the Class Four Middle Bay Handicap (1,000m) two weeks after running third at the course and distance.

“He’s got an awkward gate [in nine]. It’s all about the gate at Happy Valley, in a 1,000m race if they go fast enough for him he may not cover too much ground. If he’s caught deep he’s not going to win the race,” Size said.

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