Veteran trainer Paul O’Sullivan is looking forward to again being competitive in the BMW Hong Kong Derby 13 years after winning the prestigious race.
The 11-time New Zealand champion trainer took out the 2007 Derby with Vital King and had runners in the next two editions with Never Look Back and Legend Of Colour, but has not had a presence in the race since.
That is poised to change on Sunday week, with Amazing Beats among the 14 “selected runners” confirmed by the Jockey Club on Thursday.
Big guns Golden Sixty, More Than This and Champion’s Way headline the line-up and O’Sullivan is looking forward to last-start 2,000m winner Amazing Beats tackling the more fancied runners in the race.
“He gets the trip, but whether he’s got the class to beat them I don’t know,” O’Sullivan said of Amazing Beats, who raced as Cossetot in Australia before being sold to Hong Kong.
“If one of those classy horses in the race gets the trip well he is going to beat him, so I would call him a prize money horse.
“If it becomes a real staying test and they don’t get the trip, he’s got a chance. He certainly deserves his spot.”
O’Sullivan has fond memories of Vital King’s win – where he pipped hot favourite Floral Pegasus on the line as an $11 chance – but says it’s too early to compare Amazing Beats to his champion New Zealand import.
“I’ve only had this horse for four runs, so it’s a little bit difficult to say. Vital King might have had a little bit more zip than this fella has got,” he said.
“The win in 2007 was pretty exciting. We bought the horse ourselves and paid a lot of money for him and we went on to win the Derby.”
O’Sullivan was excited about the prospects of Win Beauty Win ahead of last year’s Derby but the impressive youngster died in a stable accident.
He hasn’t been desperate to end his lengthy Derby absence, however, saying he has preferred to wait for a horse that can hold his own in the race.
“It’s important to have a runner in the Derby that is competitive,” he said. “It’s not too hard just to get one in when you’ve got these high-rated horses coming in.
“I just haven’t had the right horses, you have got to have access to some pretty expensive horses.”
Karis Teetan was aboard Amazing Beats when he fought off fellow Derby runner Columbus County at Class Two level last month and O’Sullivan expects the Mauritian to remain in the saddle for next Sunday’s race.
Francis Lui Kin-wai’s Golden Sixty is looking to sweep the four-year-old series and is favourite for the race with fixed-odds bookmakers, with stablemate More Than This a clear second elect and the John Size-trained Champion’s Way the only other galloper in single figures.
Also in the field are Enjoying and Savvy Nine (John Moore), Private Secretary and Star Performance (Tony Cruz), Decrypt, Super Oasis and Reliable Team (Frankie Lor Fu-chuen), Playa Del Puente and Butterfield (Danny Shum Chap-shing) and the Caspar Fownes-trained Columbus County.
The Douglas Whyte-trained Thinkin’ Big will not take his place despite a last-minute bid from connections to get him to the race.
The Australian Group Three winner trialled on Tuesday morning for the first time since suffering a suspensory injury in September but Whyte said the race came around far too quickly for the gelding.
Ricky Yiu Poon-fai’s World Famous, who finished seventh in the Classic Cup, is first reserve after running fourth at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
In other news, John Moore confirmed connections have decided against taking Thanks Forever to Dubai for the Group One Al Quoz Sprint (1,200m) on World Cup night later this month.