Trainer Richard Gibson hopes that Australian import Harmony Hero can take a step forward at his second Hong Kong start when he reappears in the Class 3 Primula Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin’s Easter Monday (3 April) fixture.
Harmony Hero arrived in Hong Kong as an unbeaten three-year-old, the son of Elvstroem having won two from two in Victoria, Australia when named Lina’s Hero.
The second of those wins, in a moderate 1300m handicap at Sandown in Melbourne, was particularly impressive. Sitting wide throughout, Harmony Hero gathered in his rivals with ease, sprinting clear for a three and a quarter length win.
The runner-up that day, Mighty Boss, was a Group 1 winner less than two months later, taking the Caulfield Guineas last October.
This ensured that Harmony Hero, who had also caught the eye in three trials, was sent out a 2.5 favourite at his Hong Kong debut over the Sha Tin 1200m on 11 March.
Unfortunately for his backers, it was a difficult watch from start to finish, with the gelding trapped deep throughout from gate 10 under Tommy Berry.
“That first race was a bit messy, wasn’t it?” Gibson said. “I’m never one to talk up my horses until they do it on the track, so he still has something to prove.
“I think he has to improve from the first run significantly to be a chance here, but he did have a nice, easy trial under Nash (Rawiller) the other day so hopefully he’s come on for that.”
The Yue Yun Hing-owned Harmony Hero, to be ridden by Rawiller on Monday, carries top-weight of 128lb in the field of 14 and jumps from gate 11. The Primula Handicap also includes last-start winner Sun Touch (126lb) and three-time course and distance winner Hard Ball Get (115lb).
Earlier in the card, Gibson sends out Kingsfield, owned by Yue’s son Edmond, in the Class 2 Hyacinth Handicap (1400m), with Douglas Whyte in the saddle.
Kingsfield has proven a model of consistency this season with a win and three placings from six runs, while his last-start second at the course and distance on 3 March received a major form boost when that day’s winner, Ping Hai Star, went on to take the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m).
“I’ve been really proud of Kingsfield, the way that he’s come on this season,” the trainer said.
“He ran a brilliant race behind the Derby winner last time. We have freshened him up and so he has to go in there with a decent shot on Monday.”
Kingsfield meets eight rivals, including Hong Kong debutant Arcada, who races for the first time since finishing third in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes (1600m) at Newmarket in September, 2016.
The Ricky Yiu-trained Arcada, who was previously trained and owned by last year’s Melbourne Cup-winning combination of Joseph O’Brien and Lloyd Williams, only boasts one win from five starts as a juvenile.
However, that 1400m maiden win at the Curragh saw him hold out subsequent Irish Derby and English St Leger winner Capri, Zipping Classic victor The Taj Mahal and LONGINES Hong Kong Mile fifth Lancaster Bomber.
The 10-race card begins with the Class 5 Cymbidium Handicap (1200m) at 1pm.