Time Warp had his first barrier trial this morning (Friday, 5 January) since an all-the-way win in last month’s Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m), as trainer Tony Cruz upped the ante in preparation for approaching Group 1 tests that could include an overseas raid.
Cruz watched the big-striding chestnut lead his fellow triallists through a 1200m all-weather track heat over 1200m, bounding to the line ahead of the rest in a time of 1m 10.07s with Alvin Ng in the plate. Western Express, second in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile, was his closest pursuer, one length back.
“I’m happy with him, he’ll go to the Stewards’ Cup and then the Hong Kong Gold Cup,” Cruz said, before revealing that a trip to Meydan Racecourse, Dubai, could be the British import’s late-March target.
“I’m planning to enter him for races in Dubai, the Dubai Turf (1800m) and the Sheema Classic (2400m), I think he’ll be suited to going there,” he said.
Before that plan becomes concrete, the Archipenko five-year-old will line up in the Group 1 Stewards’ Cup over a mile at Sha Tin on Sunday, 28 January. That race will lead into the gelding’s prime early-year target, the Group 1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup at the Hong Kong Cup course and distance on Sunday, 25 February.
“The Stewards’ Cup is a bit too short for him, but if we don’t run him there’s nothing else in the programme for him, it would be two and a half months if we waited for the Gold Cup,” the handler said.
“He’s been good since his win in December and I’m pleased with his trial this morning. He’s a very nice horse to train, really easy to handle and I’ll give him one more barrier trial before the Stewards’ Cup because it’s a long gap since the Hong Kong Cup.”
Time Warp wasn’t the only recent G1 winner in trial action this morning. Mr Stunning, fresh from his Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) victory, scooted through a 1050m dirt track heat and crossed the line first in 1m 01.78s under Nash Rawiller. The five-year-old is winding up for a tilt at the Group 1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) on 28 January.
D B Pin pushed his John Size-trained stablemate to within a neck when second in the Hong Kong Sprint last time. This morning, the five-year-old cruised past the post third of the five triallists, two and a quarter lengths back.
The bay is also a likely starter in the Centenary Sprint Cup, while the Golden Shaheen at Meydan is a possible destination for the Sha Tin all-weather track winner.