Hoss, the in-form Jamie Richards-trained sprinter whose ownership group named him after the brand on his left shoulder, must overcome a rise in grade to complete his Happy Valley hat-trick on Thursday.
When it comes to naming their gallopers, some Hong Kong owners use business-related titles, some include words associated with good fortune in Cantonese culture and some derive inspiration from pedigree charts.
The Nova Stella Syndicate, however, thought outside the box to name Upper Bloodstock’s A$100,000 (HK$525,000) yearling acquisition.
It chose not to promote a professional entity. It chose not to insert a lucky term. It chose not to honour an equine relative. What it chose to do was name him after his brand – the unique mark that identifies him as a Jockey Club-registered galloper – of H055.
Hoss, which is a slang word for a horse in parts of the English-speaking world, has gone from strength to strength since Richards switched him from Sha Tin to Happy Valley ahead of his third career appearance.
While Hoss did not shed his maiden tag on his first Happy Valley start, he put the writing on the wall with the fastest closing 400m of the race in which he finished third behind Prime Mortar and All Is Good.
Zac Purton replaced Lyle Hewitson aboard Hoss for his second run at the city circuit three weeks later, and the champion jockey showed why he is the best in the business, driving his four-year-old mount between Solar Partner and Infinite Power to win by a neck.
Hoss’ six-point penalty and eight-pound weight rise were insufficient to stop punters backing
him into favouritism on his next outing, and he made light work of his opponents despite jumping from gate 11, surging away to score by one and a quarter lengths.
Speaking from Sydney, where he is buying bloodstock for his Hong Kong clients at the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale, Richards remarked he hoped Thursday’s Class Three Primula Handicap (1,200m) would be run at a tempo that would suit Hoss.
“From gate three, we’ll have to see how he begins, but he’s usually a horse who gets back a little bit. He seems to have appreciated being ridden quiet since we’ve changed tactics,” Richards said of Hoss, who performed poorly when he led at Sha Tin in December.
“I don’t think we’ll change much with him. Hopefully, they’ll go fast and it’ll set it up for something to come from behind. Going up in class is never easy, but he’s down in weight and he’s got an OK draw.”
Among the gallopers seeking to prevent Hoss making it three wins on the spin are downgraded Beauty Tycoon for John Size and Silvestre de Sousa, Group Two-winning import Wings Of War for Tony Millard and Matthew Chadwick and last-start victor Super Vince for Frankie Lor Fu-chuen and Karis Teetan.
The Richards yard has five runners at Happy Valley on Thursday – Tronic Mighty, Ready Player One, Delightful Laos, Happy United and Hoss – but the stable’s boss will not be at either the city circuit in midweek or Sha Tin this weekend because he is heading to his native New Zealand for a few days after bidding on several blue bloods in Australia.
During Monday’s opening session of the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale, Richards and Sydney-based bloodstock agent Andrew Williams combined to buy a Hellbent colt for
A$310,000, a colt by The Autumn Sun for $260,000 and a Too Darn Hot colt for A$200,000.
The Jockey Club purchased a So You Think colt for A$900,000.
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