It’s one of the biggest weeks in the racing calendar with the BMW Hong Kong Derby just days away and every trainer represented in one of the city’s most valuable races will be hoping to receive a confidence boost at Happy Valley on Wednesday.
And it’s distinctly possible that at least a couple of Derby trainers will be visiting the winner’s enclosure on Wednesday night with Caspar Fownes, Tony Cruz and Ricky Yiu Poon-fai all saddling improving runners who are seeking back-to-back victories.
Fownes will be relying on flashy grey Senor Toba and Rocket Spade as he chases a third Derby win this weekend but he’ll be hopeful that Killer Instinct can provide him with a tasty amuse-bouche before the main course at Sha Tin.
After showing next to nothing and finishing no better than eighth in his first three Hong Kong starts, Killer Instinct took advantage of dropping into Class Four company for the first time when running out a cosy winner at odds of $22 on his last start.
He is forced back up in grade after being raised six pounds for that victory but he is still likely to be well fancied for the Class Three Chester Handicap (1,200m) given that he has now found the winning thread.
Fownes’ biggest challenge in this run could come from a trainer who will be hugely confident of taking home the Derby trophy at the weekend.
Tony Cruz will attempt to stretch Classic Cup winner California Spangle’s stamina out to
2,000m as he attempts to win a first Derby since 2008 and he is likely to be three-handed in Sunday’s big race with able deputies Ima Single Man and Champion Dragon also set to take
He’s taking on Killer Instinct with Mercurial, who is seeking back-to-back wins over this course and distance after landing a Class Four at the meeting three weeks ago.
Another forced up into Class Three company following a win, he has failed to figure at that level in five runs with his best effort coming when fading to finish third over the extended mile at the Valley in November.
Yiu is approaching the Derby hoping for big runs from potentials outsiders S J Tourbillon and Mr Ascendency, but he saddles at least one runner at Happy Valley who is likely to go off at a short price.
Bulletproof has been a model of consistency since disappointing on his first two starts of the season, finishing in the frame in his last five runs, and he got a well-deserved win under his belt when successful over 1,650m at the Valley last time.
He will attempt to follow up in the Class Four Lancashire Handicap (1,650m) and his followers will again be holding their breath as he often swoops fast down the outside to make his challenge last of all.
Derby contender Romantic Warrior’s trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing will also be hoping to strike on Wednesday with Bingo Bingo looking to be his best chance of saluting in the Class Four Hereford Handicap (1,200m).
A winner on his penultimate start, he again ran on well to finish fourth last time and could get the better of So Awesome, who won on his last start for Manfred Man Ka-leung.
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