Flaming Rabbit bounces back with front-running demolition

Flaming Rabbit
Flaming Rabbit and Lyle Hewitson are not for catching.

Lyle Hewitson has always been a superb judge of pace and the South African produced a brilliant front-running ride aboard Flaming Rabbit (126lb) to win at Sha Tin on Sunday afternoon.

Outwitting six rivals aboard the Time Test galloper in a time of 1:35.15s (25.61, 23.88, 22.78, 22.88), Hewitson netted his 27th victory in Hong Kong this term after finding an untroubled lead to prevail over The Golden Scenery (135lb) and 1.5 favourite Mugen (131lb).

“In his first season he used to just win a length or two at the start and be able to take control of the race a little bit more, whereas more recently he’s been coming out on terms with them and there’s a little bit more pressure.

“Getting to the mile and him jumping like he used to allowed me to control the first two furlongs and then I was gradually able to keep picking up,” Hewitson said.

Victory came by a runaway 1.25 lengths.

It is Hewitson’s first in tandem with trainer Douglas Whyte this season, snapping a lengthy run of outs before Sunday.

“It’s been a long time between drinks. He’s been one of my main go-to jockeys (20 wins together in 2021/22) and I’ve been a great supporter of his – we have no issues, he’s a friend of mine. It’s just circumstances and Hong Kong being Hong Kong. We just haven’t had the luck. I’m glad the monkey is off both of our backs,” Whyte said.

Whyte had hoped Flaming Rabbit, who previously won last July, was able to feature in last month’s Group 2 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cup (1600m) at Al Rayyan.

“I had this horse penned in to go to Qatar and his form just wasn’t where it was today. He’s always had it but he’s a colt and he’s just been a little bit awkward to deal with. Suppose we take today’s run, if he had run that race in Qatar, he would have been in the first three,” Whyte said.

Whyte labelled the HK$4.2 million Group 3 Premier Plate Handicap (1800m) at Sha Tin on June 23 as a potential long-range target for Flaming Rabbit, who won Group 3 races in Germany and Great Britain prior to import.

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