Honest galloper Jolly Banner is primed for his return to the races in Sunday’s (18 February) Class 1 Chinese New Year Cup Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin, according to rider Nash Rawiller.
The Chinese New Year Cup is the traditional feature race at the Chinese New Year meeting. This year, the Class 1 shares top billing with the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m), the second leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series.
The Ricky Yiu-trained Jolly Banner (133lb) sits at the head of the weights for the Chinese New Year Cup. The Lonhro six-year-old has already won a 1400m Class 1 this season, taking the Kwangtung Handicap Cup in September before finishing a game third in the Group 2 Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m) behind eventual Hong Kong Mile winner Beauty Generation.
Two subsequent poor efforts have not deterred Rawiller and for the jockey, who last partnered Jolly Banner in a Class 2 at Happy Valley in April, the gelding’s big weight in Sunday’s feature is offset by his trackwork form heading into Sunday’s race.
“I just came back from his last gallop and I was happy with it, he’s right where you would want him to be,” Rawiller said on Thursday morning (15 February), with Jolly Banner working 800m on the Sha Tin all-weather track in 53.9s (29.5, 24.4). “His last trial was terrific too and I think he’s entering in great form. He rarely runs a bad race anyway but the small field and the blinkers on should allow him to run a very good race.
“I just get the feeling, from when I rode him in his first gallop two and a half weeks ago to the trial and now, that he’s really on an upward spiral. He’s going into Sunday really well and I couldn’t be happier.”
Jolly Banner will jump from gate six in the field of eight.
Also set to run in the Chinese New Year Cup are Frankie Lor-trained Dundonnell (131lb) and Chris So’s Racing Supernova (124lb), who have both finished second in this race previously. John Moore-trained pair Booming Delight (132lb) and Magic Legend (123lb), Tony Cruz’s duo Wah May Friend (130lb) and Romantic Touch (126lb), and Simply Invincible (116lb) for David Hall complete the line-up.
The Chinese New Year Cup is the eighth of 11 races on Sunday’s card and will jump at 4.05pm. The first, the Class 5 Yue Yee Handicap (1400m), is scheduled for 12.30pm.