One of the burning questions in the G2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday is whether Glorious Forever will attempt to reverse a first round defeat to Time Warp in the battle of the brothers.
The latter landed a points decision in the G3 Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse Handicap (1800m) at the track two weeks ago, leading all the way and holding his full-sibling by a neck.
Trainer Frankie Lor is now looking to a precedent Time Warp set 12 months ago as a gauge to how his own exciting charge might fare leading into a planned third clash in next month’s G1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
“I hope he can improve like Time Warp did this time last year – the ratings say he will need to,” he said.
Time Warp ran a close second in the 2017 Ladies’ Purse running off the same mark – 107 – as Lor’s emerging star.
Tony Cruz’s charge then filled the runner-up berth in the Jockey Club Cup off 110, the same rating Glorious Forever finds himself on for the lead step-up to Hong Kong’s richest race in three weeks’ time. Big brother’s current local rating is 128 but he will concede only 5lb to his four-year-old sibling this time as opposed to the 17lb concession in the Ladies’ Purse.
In ink, that appears to be a stiff ask. But the hard numbers do not factor in the striking similarities between the two chestnut geldings by Archipenko out of Here To Eternity.
“I hope we can beat him this time,” Lor said. “In the mornings Glorious Forever has improved but how much better he is we don’t know until he races, so we’ll know more after this race.
“Everything is going good. We just gave him an easy gallop on Thursday morning, not too hard, because this will be his third race in one month so no need to push him – he’s fit!”
Joao Moreira will take the reins on Glorious Forever for the first time this weekend.
To lead or not to lead
All six of Time Warp’s Hong Kong wins have been achieved when the five-year-old made the running – including G1 wins in last season’s Hong Kong Cup and Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m). Two of Glorious Forever’s three wins have come the same way – the other being a handy sit into a long drive off the home turn.
In round one, Time Warp got a comfortable lead; Glorious Forever tracked; big brother wound up; Glorious Forever just failed to overhaul.
“Time Warp always leads but being in front is also much better for my horse. I’ll talk to Joao and we’ll see what we do,” Lor said.
The handler has not ruled out trying to edge Time Warp for the lead in Sunday’s rematch, though he acknowledged that such a move might be tough with Time Warp drawn in gate six, one berth inside Glorious Forever.
“If he jumps fast, I don’t mind if we go on and lead the race, I will tell Joao to do that,” Lor said. “But if he has to work too hard to get there, then he will just follow him. I don’t want my horse fighting for the lead the whole way.”
Purton has partnered Glorious Forever to all three of his wins but is also Time Warp’s regular partner and will once again be aboard that British import. And the intent is to land a knockout from the front.
“Tony wants the horse to lead and that’s what I expect we’ll be going out there to do,” the champion jockey said. “If the other horse wants to keep kicking up and making Time Warp work, well then we’ll probably end up going faster than we want to.
“He likes to bowl along – we all know that – so hopefully he can do that out in front without too much pressure. It was good to see last time that he’s something like back to his best.”
Cruz is pleased with Time Warp’s progress as he heads into his third start of the campaign.
“I’m happy with the horse,” he said. “He showed last time that he improved off his first run – the mile was too short for him. This distance is perfect and he’ll run well again.”
The Jockey Club Cup is one of three G2 features on Sunday, each worth HK$4.25 million. The BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Mile (1600m) features the world’s top-rated turf miler, Beauty Generation, while the Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) brings together a field of top-class sprinters that includes Ivictory, Mr Stunning, D B Pin, Hot King Prawn, Beat The Clock and Premiere.