A horror draw means boom newcomer Master Montaro will be forced to do it all from the back again on Friday, but trainer David Hayes believes the horse will prove his versatility should he ever get the chance.
The undefeated Australian import has become known for his huge finishes and barrier 14 means he will find himself in a familiar position at the top of the straight in the Class Three Cotton Tree Handicap (1,200m).
While he did it first-up from barrier 10 three weeks ago, he is forced to carry an extra five pounds on this occasion.
“He’s going to be a short price with a big weight and a bad gate so it’s buyer beware … but he is a pretty smart horse,” Hayes said.
“He is probably going to have to race in his Australian racing pattern. He went back to last and came down the outside so he will be ridden conservatively and come around them like he did the other day.
“It is pretty hard to win first-up as a new horse here, the ones that do it have to be good.”
The short run into the turn at Sha Tin may force jockey Zac Purton’s hand in this instance, but Hayes is of the belief Master Montaro is no one-trick pony.
Connections are unlikely to be tempted into a Classic Series tilt with the talented four-year-old, however, with Hayes confirming he would stick to sprinting trips “for now”.
“At the moment we will stick to the sprinting with him, he has been good with the three-week break and his work in between has been sharp so I’d expect him to be hard to beat,” he said. “I think one day if he ever draws a gate he will be able to settle midfield or even closer.”
Hayes will also produce highly rated stable-change galloper Decrypt for the first time on Friday as the pint-sized grey returns from a tendon injury.
Formerly trained by Frankie Lor Fu-chuen, Decrypt arrived in Hong Kong with big expectations for last year’s four-year-old series after running third in the Group One Irish 2,000 Guineas (1,600m), but was ultimately unable to match it with the likes of Golden Sixty and More Than This.
Coming to Hayes’ yard after suffering tendon damage, the handler elected to give Decrypt extra time to recover and two impressive trials since suggest it may have been the right call.
While he races over 1,200m for the first time in Hong Kong in the Class Two Cherry Handicap, Hayes believes Decrypt can make his presence felt.
“He is a small horse with a huge weight so he will be better when he gets to 1,400m and a mile but in saying that, he did trial well,” he said. “He has got form over 1,200m overseas but he is coming back off a tendon injury, that is why he hasn’t run all season.
“He had a tendon issue that was on the mend when he came to us and when you’ve got one of them you have to do everything a little bit slower to give them time.”
Hayes also has Donc Je Suis, Poised To Strike and The Summit racing on the day.