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John Size has first overseas Success in his sights as Hong Kong graces world stage again

The veteran trainer’s honest sprinter is the city’s leading hope on Dubai World Cup night, and he’s ticking a lot of boxes

The general sentiment around Hong Kong’s Dubai World Cup night contingent has been one of hope rather than expectation, but the honest Sight Success has a few people talking ahead of Saturday’s showcase at Meydan.

While Japanese megastar Equinox and American dirt monster Country Grammer – the reigning Dubai World Cup champion and favourite to repeat – have commanded much of the attention at Meydan this week ahead of their tilt at much richer races, it’s not gone unnoticed how many boxes Sight Success ticks ahead of the US$1.5 million Group One Al Quoz Sprint (1,200m).

That the six-year-old, who sits just behind the top echelon of speedsters in Hong Kong, has drawn the favourable barrier 13 for the six-furlong dash down the Meydan straight has only added to the momentum that sees him listed as a $6 third favourite in fixed-odds markets.

There’s also the Ryan Moore factor, as well as the influence of a man with a significantly lower global profile but who’s equally revered by those familiar with his achievements – John Size.

Size could well go down as the most successful trainer Hong Kong has ever seen by the time he’s finished and he’s done just about everything there’s to do domestically, but one thing he doesn’t have on his resume is a victory abroad.

“It might come, it might not. I’m OK with that, it doesn’t concern me too much,” said a typically succinct Size after Sight Success’ gallop at Meydan on Thursday morning.

Of his 11 overseas runners during his time based in Hong Kong – 10 in Japan, one in the United Arab Emirates – Size’s best result came on his very first international raid, with Armada finishing second in the 2008 Group One Yasuda Kinen (1,600m).

He’s had an Al Quoz runner before and while he can smile about it now, Amazing Kids’ sixth in 2017 offered a window into just how many variables there are when it comes to travelling horses.

“We had quite a bit of rain. It rained for a few days, and even race morning it was still raining, which was quite a surprise to someone like me. Amazing Kids probably didn’t have the wet form that was required,” Size said.

A couple of Size’s Japan expeditions came courtesy of Sight Winner, a miler owned by the same connections as Sight Success – Tam Wing-kun and family.

“They’re pretty excited about it, they were fairly happy when I suggested it and they were very happy to get on board,” Size said of this Dubai raid.

It’s the endeavour of owners like Tam that Hong Kong racing needs, and whatever the result of the city’s five-strong Dubai assault this week, it’s refreshing to see Sha Tin-trained gallopers on a truly global stage again.

A Hong Kong horse hasn’t won an international Group One abroad since 2015 – with Aerovelocity winning Japan’s Takamatsunomiya Kinen and Singapore’s Krisflyer International Sprint in the space of two months.

Hong Kong’s last top-level Dubai successes came on a golden night in 2014 when Ricky Yiu Poon-fai’s Amber Sky won the Al Quoz and John Moore’s Sterling City followed up a race later to win the Group One Dubai Golden Shaheen (1,200m) on the dirt.

On Saturday, Hong Kong fans will get to see how their gallopers measure up on a truly global stage for the first time in four years, with Russian Emperor, Duke Wai, Senor Toba and Glorious Dragon also flying the Bauhinia flag.

While the city’s very best have stayed home, Hong Kong still fields a team that can make its presence felt.

Like Size said, a win “might come, it might not”, but with any luck a strong showing on Saturday night can help prompt connections of Hong Kong’s absolute elite to shift their focus a little further afield in the not-too-distant future.

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