Matthew Chadwick tempers expectations for Gentle Breeze after whack from handicapper
In-form sprinter Gentle Breeze could become a victim of his own success on Wednesday with a significant weight rise threatening to stop him in his tracks.
The Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained galloper has won two on the trot at the city track and his achievements have not been missed by the handicapper, who slapped him with a monster 12-point rating rise after his two-and-three-quarter-length victory at Happy Valley earlier this month.
He lines up again in the Class Three St Andrew’s Challenge Quaich Handicap (1,000m) where he will be forced to do it the hard way from barrier 10 while carrying 133 pounds.
Even though he comfortably put his rivals to the sword last start, Chadwick said he was proceeding with caution this time around.
“I thought his last run flattered him as a few of the other runners haven’t done too much this season, he came up against a similar field as before,” Chadwick said. “The handicappers definitely noticed – he has top weight now.”
With a two-month spell under his belt, Chadwick lauded the horse’s ability to improve, putting his form down to maturity.
“He’s definitely returned more mature, he’s a stronger specimen and he’s definitely putting the right foot forward now – hopefully he can find a nice run and hit the line again,” he said.
“Time will tell if there is scope for him to step out over further or to Sha Tin but he’s come back better and he’s more relaxed.”
Chadwick has enjoyed a golden run on the five-year-old, winning three of their past four starts together, including one at the end of last season.
They will race against the John Size-trained Special Stars who looked set to rocket through the grades last season before petering out.
After going close from barrier one two stars ago under jockey Joao Moreira, Special Stars endured a torrid run from gate 11 three weeks ago.
Drawing the inside alley again, Moreira believes they will go close.
“The gate is going to help him; we know he is capable of winning in the class that he is in at the moment and we just have to hope that things go his way,” he said.
Caspar Fownes’ Jumbo Prize will also be a threat in the race from barrier two.
Australian jockey Regan Bayliss will ride again and look to breakthrough for his first Happy Valley winner.
The 22-year-old has notched up six winners in Hong Kong, but all of them have come at Sha Tin.