Sibling rivalry will come to a head at Sha Tin on Sunday when two of Hong Kong’s most exciting gallopers clash for the first time in a quality renewal of the Group 3 Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse Handicap (1800m).
Time Warp and Glorious Forever are sons of the late Lanwades Stud stallion Archipenko, out of the homebred mare Here To Eternity. Both started their careers in Britain – the former with Sir Mark Prescott, the latter under Ed Walker’s watch – and both have thrived as on-pace gallopers in Hong Kong’s tough mix.
Big brother Time Warp ascended to the pinnacle last term with a pair of Group 1 wins; the first, a breakthrough score in the Hong Kong Cup (2000m); the second, a record breaking dip inside two minutes for Sha Tin’s 2000m in the Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup.
Glorious Forever, one year younger at age four, but a forward-racing chestnut just the same, rounded out a four-race first campaign with two wins late last season. The second, a Class 2 victory on 8 July, snatched his older sibling’s 10-furlong record. The Frankie-Lor-trained galloper clocked 1m 59.53s – a blink of 0.44s quicker than Time Warp’s mark.
Champion jockey Zac Purton is the regular partner for each horse and with the kid brother low in the handicap (112lb), he will stick with the highly-weighted Time Warp (131lb). Glorious Forever will have Chad Schofield in the plate.
“Glorious Forever is untapped – you don’t know how high he’s going to go,” Purton said. “Time Warp is at the crossroads.”
A fine first-up win over 1800m for Glorious Forever contrasts with a first-up last of 14 for Time Warp two weeks ago in the Group 2 Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m). The rising star has now won three on the bounce; the Group 1 hero has posted three straight sub-par performances.
The similarities and contrasts run deeper.
“They both can be a little bit hot-headed,” Purton said.
“Time Warp relaxes a little bit better – once he gets his rhythm he drops the bit and just floats along; Glorious Forever wants to get on the bit and just get it all over and done with as quickly as he can – he really needs to learn to chill a bit.
“They have different actions, too. Time Warp slaps the ground a bit with flatter feet, Glorious Forever moves across the ground a bit better.”
Rhythm for Time
Purton is looking for a much improved performance from Time Warp, without a win since that incredible effort in the Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup last February. His fade-out behind Beauty Generation last time left the rider underwhelmed.
“I thought Time Warp was probably disappointing,” he said. “He really needs to put his hand up in this race to show us that he’s going to be a player again.”
But trainer Tony Cruz expects a better performance at the weekend. Time Warp was collared late when second to Nassa in last year’s edition of the historic contest, which dates back to 1846.
“He’s only had one run this season and the mile is too short for him now – he needs racing to improve himself and he’ll progress into the Hong Kong Cup in December,” Cruz said.
“He’s got a big weight to carry but this race fits his programme and he’s jumping out of his skin, he needs to race. If he can dictate the race and find his rhythm, he can still be hard to beat.”
Rhythm is the key to Time Warp and Purton is hoping that the big chestnut will find his groove again beyond a mile.
“Now he gets to a distance where he can get into a better rhythm. If he does that then hopefully he’ll find the spark that he needs,” he said.
Glorious Forever, on the other hand, showed last time that he is still ascending, and he will need to be if he is to spring into December’s Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup. His current domestic rating is 106.
“He was first up, it was over 1800m, and, for all of that, he was still able to give a good kick and win well,” Purton said.
“He never really relaxed either – Karis Teetan was at my hindquarters and kept kicking up every time the horse on the outside, Packing Dragon, tried to go past him. That kept my horse honest the whole way and never gave him a chance to relax – he was working the whole way.”
Lor is pleased with how his charge has come on since that return to action and expects to see mental progress as well as physical at the weekend.
“He still needs to learn to relax a little bit but I think after his first run he should relax better this time. I’m pleased with how he handled his last race, and, with the light weight at the weekend, I expect him to find improvement from his first race. He should have a very good chance.”
What Lor does not want is to see the two brothers battling each other for the lead – at least, not until the race is on in earnest.
“If Zac wants to lead on Time Warp, my horse can just settle – he doesn’t have to lead. If he runs well, he’ll go to the Group 2 in a couple of weeks and then the big race in December,” he said.
Sunday’s race is also set to feature top-rated Pakistan Star, as well as Exultant, Gold Mount, Eagle Way, the 2016 winner Horse Of Fortune, Dinozzo and Prawn Baba.