Blinkers on Star Mac in Hong Kong Classic Cup

David Hayes has tweaked his runner’s gear this weekend.

Star Mac will look a little different when he lines up in Sunday’s HK$13 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) at Sha Tin.

Trainer David Hayes has elected to apply blinkers to the four-year-old son of Heroic Valour, who sizzled in the headgear from last-to-first under jockey Karis Teetan in a 1200m barrier trial on the dirt last Thursday (February 22) at Sha Tin.

“He’ll race in blinkers for the first time. He dropped the bit between the 800 and 600 metre marks in the Hong Kong Classic Mile – I’d just love him to be travelling nicely into the straight,” Hayes said.

The 69-rater has raced five times for three placings in Hong Kong. The powerful closer rattled into third place behind Helios Express in the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m).

“The key with the blinkers is that he’s not too keen in them. It might just help him travel a bit better mid-race,” Hayes said. “He came out of his last run really well. I think the trial confirmed that – his trial last Thursday was very encouraging.”

Star Mac clocked the fastest final 400m sectional time in the Hong Kong Classic Mile, stopping the watch at 23.17s under Teetan.

“I thought he was the best closer in the Classic Mile and he showed at set weights that we can mix it with them. We don’t have to worry about him being a little bit out of the handicap, I think that’s only a short-term problem,” Hayes said. “The Classic Mile and the start before were both very good runs – crashing the line and learning, he’s still learning and he’s a lightly raced horse.”

Karis Teetan won the Hong Kong Classic Cup – the second leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series – in 2015 aboard Thunder Fantasy.

“Karis had a lot of options, so we made a deal. The deal was that if Karis rode him in the Classic Mile that he would stick with him right through to the Derby. It was a pretty good call by Karis to add that caveat to get him on – I think he’s pulled the right rein,” Hayes said.

“He’s a young stayer in the making and we’re looking forward to the weekend.”

Star Mac has worn cheek pieces the last two starts.

Helios Express, Ensued, Helene Feeling, Chill Chibi, Ka Ying Generation, Speed Dragon, Chancheng Glory, Simply Maverick, Elliptical, Unbelievable, Beauty Crescent, Fallon and California Voce are entered to run in the Hong Kong Classic Cup.

Awesome Fluke, Noble Pursuit, Silver King and Lean Hero are reserves one to four for the contest, respectively.

The three-race Four-Year-Old Classic Series concludes with the HK$26 million 147th BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) on 24 March at Sha Tin.

Teetan won the BMW Hong Kong Derby in 2022 with Romantic Warrior, while Hayes tasted success in the race with filly Elegant Fashion in 2003.

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