New Talent Rising
Ahead of the 2020/21 season, we look at six exciting prospects likely to make their way up the ranks
By David Morgan
Hong Kong racing is at one of those crossroads moments when the old champs wane and the rising stars emerge. Beauty Generation (美麗傳承) retains plenty of talent to continue on, but the aura of invincibility has diminished, while Exultant (時時精綵) is one season older too; Golden Sixty (金鎗六十) is the bright hope from last season’s four-year-old crop, but the coming season has plenty of exciting young talents besides.
The six horses highlighted here are among the best of the rising stars, untested in the highest grades but exhibiting the scope and potential that might take them there. The quality they have shown so far suggests the future is bright.
Among the most impressive debut performances of last season was that of Joyful Fortune (連連歡樂). The chestnut had shown plenty of potential in his barrier trials before he stepped out for a dash down the 1000m straight on Sunday, 5 July, and he duly started the 1.8 favourite. David Hall’s charge demolished his Class 4 opponents as he ripped home in a wind-assisted 55.07s, the thirdfastest at the course and distance in the past 13 years. Rising four years of age at the time, he drew more than four lengths clear of his rivals and seems destined for the top grades.
Frankie Lor has one of Hong Kong’s most exciting prospects on his hands. The NZ$300,000 Karaka Sale purchase heads into the new campaign with a perfect two-from-two record, accomplished in the style of a high-class prospect. The Deep Field gelding debuted at the end of May and brushed aside his Class 4 rivals down the 1000m straight in 55.59s. One month later, the rising fouryear-old stretched out over the same strip in Class 3 and was again a commanding winner under Vincent Ho. All things being equal, Winning Dreamer (夢想成金) should continue to rise through the grades and could develop into a leading sprinter.
Trainer Richard Gibson produced Wellington (福逸) to win his first three races on the bounce – all at 1200m – before he suffered a reversal at 1400m and was put away until next season. The All Too Hard gelding was a three-year-old at the time of his impressive three-length debut score in January; his third win saw him cruise up to the lead midway down the final straight and freewheel home without pressure. He can be forgiven his defeat – at odds of 1.5 – in his fourth start in as many months, and, with expected development, he could be lining up in the Hong Kong Classic Mile come January.
One of the many bright spots in Ricky Yiu’s remarkable season was the emergence of Mighty Giant (高大威猛). The eye-catching chestnut, with his big white face and two white socks, finished down the field on debut but learned his job quickly; he won four of his next six races, placing second twice, and rolling to the end of his campaign with an exciting hat-trick. His final success came under a big weight in Class 3 and saw him work relentlessly to wear down the leader, then barrel past the post with his ears pricked. The Power gelding, now five, ended the term with a rating of 87 and can be expected to add a few more points in the coming months.
Caspar Fownes holds the chestnut in some regard, and after a frustrating pair of nearmisses to start his career, Sky Field (顯心星) put it together in impressive style to win at the third attempt. That success came at the season’s final Sha Tin fixture, a 1200m Class 4. The rising four-year-old made light of a 131lb burden and justified 1.4 favouritism as he closed from deep, rocketing through runners and surging four lengths clear under hands and heels. Jockey Joao Moreira said afterwards, “It’s been a while since I’ve ridden a nice young talent like him. The best part of it is that he feels like a raw type that has plenty of improvement still.” His dam was a half-sister to Fownes’s G1 Hong Kong Mile winner, The Duke, and more wins should be forthcoming.
John Size had an unusually quiet season with his PPGs, but one that proved good enough to land the spoils on debut was Scores Of Fun (共創繽紛). The chestnut tracked the speed, pulled four-wide on the home turn and knuckled down for Moreira; despite signs of greenness, he held the late-closing runner-up by a neck. The performance was admirable rather than spectacular, but there was plenty of merit in winning first-up. The fact that he was not tested again, but instead sent to Conghua and taken off the work roster, suggests his trainer could be giving him time to mature before his four-year-old campaign.