Patriot Hero (119lb) brings Hong Kong Derby form to Wednesday (11 April) night’s Happy Valley card, albeit a slender thread, as trainer David Ferraris continues the “lovely” galloper’s progression with a first outing at the city track.
“I don’t think Happy Valley will be a problem – he’s a beautiful horse, a laidback horse,” the South African handler said at Sha Tin this morning, Tuesday, 10 April.
Patriot Hero is set to line up in the Class 2 Pottinger Peak Handicap at the Valley, having finished last of 14 behind Ping Hai Star in Hong Kong’s blue riband last month. But Ferraris believes the drop from 2000m to 1650m in a lesser grade will be beneficial.
“He was thrown in the deep end in the Derby, but to be drawn five and race three wide no cover is a bit hard to swallow,” he said. “He’s well, he hasn’t got the best gate (10) on Wednesday night but he’ll be taken back and given cover. He’ll be rattling home really well.”
Patriot Hero, second in the Group 3 Italian 2,000 Guineas (1600m) pre-import, has raced only four times in Hong Kong and showed promise in three Derby lead-ups: the Pivotal chestnut ran third to Ruthven over 1800m in his start immediately prior.
“His run before the Derby was a very good run and I thought he’d make the necessary improvement; having said that, the Derby was a very strong field. Back there in Class 2 now, I think it’s the right race for him with a light weight.”
Patriot Hero’s pedigree is not short of speed, the eye-catching gelding being a three parts brother to a top-rated sprinter in Italy, Noble Hachy.
“I think a mile – 1800 tops, but a mile is fine for him,” Ferraris said.
Karis Teetan will be aboard for the first time.
The handler is also set to saddle Pikachu (125lb) in the 10-runner contest. The seven-year-old is a two-time winner at the track, once at the course and distance.
“Pikachu has done a bit of racing but he’s been running in very strong company and he’s always dangerous in this class at Happy Valley over a mile. He’ll run very well; he’s maintained his form and I’m very happy with him,” Ferraris said of Alberto Sanna’s mount.
Top-weight Litterateur (128lb) is on a hat-trick following a brace of wins at the course and distance. Richard Gibson’s often headstrong racer is set to break from gate one under Neil Callan.
Seeking a four-timer at the course and distance is the Danny Shum-trained Winning Faith (120lb). With gate three and apprentice Matthew Poon’s five-pound claim to factor in, the handler is expecting a good run despite a 22-point rating hike since the sequence began back in December.
“That five pounds allowance will be a big help,” Shum said.
“The horse has been in really good form and he has a good draw, so I’m pretty confident he’ll run a very good race. Matthew has ridden him in trackwork already, so he’s had a chance to get to know the horse a little bit.
“I think, at Happy Valley at 1650 (metres), he can still give more; he’s a Happy Valley horse – Sha Tin, I don’t know,” he added.
The field also features multiple course and distance winners Imperial Gallantry (124lb) and Star Majestic (121lb), as well as Rickfield (120lb), Infinity Endeavour (119lb), Circuit Glory (118lb) and General Sherman (118lb).
In the evening’s trophy race, the Class 3 Indian Recreation Club Challenge Cup Handicap (1650m), Teetan will side with the Me Tsui-trained Pretty Bauhinia (126lb). The Mauritian was in the plate for a course and distance win two starts back and again when second at the track last time out.
“He’s in good shape, his last run was good,” Teetan said. “He can get himself a little bit too far back but you cannot test him too hard from the beginning otherwise he won’t finish. That’s his pattern of racing so we’ll have to do the same with him and hope that he can let down.”
The 12-runner contest is set to see the Hong Kong debut of Time Warp’s full-brother, the Frankie Lor-trained Glorious Forever (126lb). The Archipenko four-year-old won two of eight starts in the UK, the latest being a minor 1990m handicap at Sandown Park.
Happy Valley’s eight-race action starts at 7.15pm with the Class 4 D’Aguilar Peak Handicap (1200m).