The unbeaten Blaze Warrior was one of the most exciting prospects to emerge last season and this Sunday (7 November) at Sha Tin, the talented chestnut will attempt to rack up a four-timer when he contests the Class 3 Cyber Colors Handicap (1400m).
Champion jockey Joao Moreira has been ever-present throughout the youngster’s career and he is eager to take the reins atop the chestnut again, optimistic of maintaining a perfect connection with the Australian-bred.
A winner at his first two outings over 1200m, the four-year-old successfully stepped up to 1400m last term with the ‘Magic Man’ sounding an ominous warning at trackwork Friday morning (5 November) as he builds towards a potential Four-Year-Old Classic Series tilt.
“He gave me a good impression and a good feeling. For me, he’s a horse that as he is steps up in distance it’s going to be better for him – he’s no doubt a promising horse,” Moreira said.
Arriving in Hong Kong as an unraced import, the son of Sebring advanced his mark 27 points up the handicap to a current rating of 79, having won twice in Class 4 and once in Class 3.
“He was (pretty professional last season), but I feel like there is a lot of room to improve within himself which is a very good point,” Moreira outlined.
The John Size-trained runner has had three trials in preparation, twice with Moreira and once with Blake Shinn in the plate.
“He has had a really good preparation to come back this season and I’m looking forward to riding him,” Moreira said.
Stepping away from gate seven, Blaze Warrior (133lb) faces three last-start winners among 13 rivals.
“He doesn’t have the speed to be sharing the lead with them but he wouldn’t be too far off, gate seven is not ideal, I would have preferred to be a bit closer to the inside but we’ll deal with it the best we can – I hope he has a smooth run,” Moreira outlined.
On the card, Moreira’s full book includes another Size prospect – Fantastic Way, who also collected three wins last season, though he did suffer defeat at his final run.
Sight Spirit, who was sent around a +230 favourite on debut last month, also retains the services of Moreira in the Class 4 Canmake Tokyo Handicap (1200m).
“He was a bit unlucky by being held back and then he was without a clear run early on but he dashed home and finished off the race in a nice way, we expected him to do that but unfortunately things didn’t go our way,” Moreira said.
The four-year-old steps away from gate four with 124lb allotted against 11 others including Whizz Kid (128lb) and Falcon Turbo (131lb).
“I honestly believe he could have won the race if things had gone his way but racing’s like that, sometimes we just have to cope with it and think about the next run, I think we’re going to have a good go this weekend,” Moreira said.
Moreira was crowned champion jockey last season after amassing a brilliant 157 wins.
“At the trials he did everything straightforward but on debut he wasn’t very sure about things and he had a few excuses as horses around him just shuffled him at the start, so he didn’t have great momentum and he was caught a little bit too far back but he’s now had a run under his belt, so I believe he’s going to do things better,” he said.
Wellington trials ahead of return
Group 1-winning sprinter Wellington pleased Alexis Badel at Sha Tin Friday morning (5 November) with a rousing first-past-the-post effort on the dirt in a barrier trial.
Trialling for the first time since being found lame in his right hind leg, Wellington appeared to move freely under the Frenchman, clocking 1m 02.11s for the gallop.
“So far, so good – it’s just about keeping the horse happy, healthy and ready for the races. I just tried to keep the horse happy and give him a smooth run and he responded well this morning,” Badel said.
The effort also pleased trainer Richard Gibson, who is aiming to ready his charge for a return in this month’s Group 2 Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) on 21 November before tackling December’s Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).
“It was a nice good trial, we’re trying to prep him for this race in a couple of weeks’ time.
“It hasn’t been a smooth preparation but I think we’re making progress – I have a huge team of people working behind me and I’m grateful for their dedication and hopefully we can get him across the line,” Gibson said.