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Flaming Rabbit running for more than prize money in Sunday’s Sha Tin feature

Flaming Rabbit is running for more than prize money in Sunday’s Class One Hong Kong Racehorse Owners Association Trophy (1,600m) at Sha Tin because how Douglas Whyte’s miler performs will influence whether he returns next season as an entire or a gelding.

One of the few non-castrated male gallopers in Hong Kong, Flaming Rabbit has been one of the better four-year-old performers of the post-Classic Series period, rising 10 points in the ratings from his initial mark of 83 after arriving as a two-time Group Three victor.

“He’ll be triple figures for sure. He’s on the way to that,” said Whyte of last-start winner Flaming Rabbit. “He’s adapted to the place, and it’s a big question mark whether I geld him or don’t geld him. I’ll see and deal with that after this next race.”

Even in March, Flaming Rabbit’s local rating was high enough to be eligible to debut in the Derby (2,000m). However, Whyte erred on the side of caution and decided against accepting for the major event.

The end of this term’s 88-meeting programme is coming too soon for Flaming Rabbit, but Whyte hopes the December arrival’s relative freshness will help him register his second Hong Kong victory on the bounce.

“He started his preparation late, so he’s still got fresh legs. Had he been up and running early in the season, I probably wouldn’t be running him on Sunday, but he’s only just got going,” Whyte said.

“He’s had only a handful of runs. He’s at a great stage of his preparation and career, so there’s no point in stopping him yet. The race presented itself, and he’s coming in with a nice galloping weight.”

Flaming Rabbit is one of the four Hong Kong Racehorse Owners Association Trophy runners who won their last starts, with Hava Nageela, Tuchel and Encountered also seeking to register consecutive victories.

Encountered caused last term’s biggest boilover when he won a Class Three contest over 1,600m during the Sha Tin finale at $199.70. His trainer, Manfred Man Ka-leung, thinks the odds are against the Happy Valley specialist at the New Territories venue.

“It’ll be tough for him because of his rating and the track. He only really likes Happy Valley,” Man said.

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