Hot King Prawn is one of the most dependable horses in training and at Sha Tin this Sunday (26 April) trainer John Size is hopeful that reliability can at last be rewarded with a Group 1 success in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m).
“At the moment this is an opportunity for him to win a big one – he’s done everything right going into the race so hopefully he gives it a good shake,” Size said.
“He just goes out there and does his job, you always know what you’re going to get and his consistency hopefully pays off one day and he can win a Group 1.”
The Denman gelding has raced 17 times for 16 top three finishes, including 10 wins. This season he has placed three times at Group 1 level and has the opportunity to cap a return from colic surgery 14 months ago with victory in the HK$18 million dash.
The five-year-old spent almost 10 months recovering on the sidelines before returning in the autumn and is now on his way to fulfilling the potential he showed as a young prospect. But that setback means that the popular grey finds himself in a race against time – age will soon start to catch up. Should he fail to score on Sunday, his next shot at a Group 1 will likely come at the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races in December, another eight months away.
“He hasn’t had much racing overall so that’s the only thing that might help him if he runs as a six-year-old next season. He did have those 10 months away from trackwork and racing so that will probably help him moving forward,” Size said.
A total of 19 five-year-old’s have won the Chairman’s Sprint Prize since 1979 and Hot King Prawn fits the mould, like Beat The Clock last year, Lucky Bubbles (2017) before that, and Chautauqua (2016). He could also secure his handler’s third win in succession with Ivictory having won for the stable in 2018.
“He’s always pretty consistent at what he does – he doesn’t change much and he’s been strong for a few months now. He’s had a bit of racing this season but hopefully he can stand up to it and he gets his chance here to win a big race.”
Three-time champion jockey Joao Moreira hops in the plate again and the pair will break from gate one against 10 competitors.
“Now is the time – I think he’s mature enough, although he might still have one more go next season but I would say that he is at his prime at the moment and that’s one of the reasons why I’m going to the races with confidence,” Moreira said.
“He’s been so consistent and he has proven himself to be a good horse and unfortunately a number of times he has bumped into better horses in some of the races.”
The grey closed off for second in a barrier trial behind Aethero six days ago on the Sha Tin dirt over 1050m.
“He feels great – the feeling he gave me suggests that there is nothing wrong with him,” Moreira said.
With showers forecast to hit Hong Kong over the next few days, a soft surface is not out of the question but both Moreira and Size were quick to quash any concerns.
“It may even suit him even better, I remember a number of races he has won on the surface and he just floated on top of it, so even if it does keep on raining it might even be a benefit,” Moreira said.
Size said: “I think he’s alright – he hasn’t missed any racing so he’s pretty fit which is a factor on the wet track and the times that he’s been on any sort of ground that hasn’t been fast he’s managed it well, so I wouldn’t be concerned about any of that.”
The trainer also has D B Pin (126lb) and Full of Beauty (126lb) in the 11-runner line-up and also featured is Aethero (122lb), Thanks Forever (126lb), Mr Stunning (126lb) and Voyage Warrior (126lb).
FWD Champions Day features three Group 1 races, the FWD QEII Cup (2000m), the Group 1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) and the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m).