John Size launches two-pronged assault on Hong Kong Classic Cup

John Size
John Size has won four Hong Kong Classic Cups.

Armed with two leading chances in the HK$13 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) at Sha Tin on Sunday, John Size hopes Ensued can continue an unexpected advance to the HK$26 million Hong Kong Derby (2000m) with a strong performance this weekend under champion British jockey Ryan Moore.

Moore is one of four visiting riders involved in tomorrow’s feature along with Mickael Barzalona (Speed Dragon), Blake Shinn (Elliptical) and Damian Lane (Simply Maverick) and the Englishman will bid for a second Hong Kong Classic Cup triumph in tandem with Size after the pair struck with Sun Jewellery in 2016.

Chasing a fifth Hong Kong Classic Cup victory after striking with Unique Jewellery (2009), It Has To Be You (2013), Thunder Fantasy (2015) and Sun Jewellery, Size is represented in the second leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series by Helios Express and Ensued.

Winless in three starts in Great Britain for James Fanshawe, Ensued surprised Size by reeling off successive wins at 1800m and 2000m.

“He’s been quite unusual the way he came into Hong Kong and won immediately at a distance, that doesn’t happen too often so he’s sort of stamped himself as one who has adapted to Hong Kong quite quickly,” Size said.

“He certainly can stay – that doesn’t seem to be an issue with him. (Being) just a little bit one-paced is probably the chink in his armour, he just doesn’t have enough acceleration. But, with that, as long as he’s running in a forward position and running freely, that’s okay.”

Moore reunites with Ensued for the first time since he finished second on the gelding over 1600m on Kempton’s Polytrack in April, 2023.

Size initially believed Ensued might not adjust quickly enough to press for a start in the Hong Kong Derby, but the gelding’s effort to post three wins and a second has impressed the 12-time Hong Kong champion trainer.

“My earlier thoughts would have been that he wouldn’t have the class for that (the Derby) but because he runs the distance, he’s gone up in the rating reasonably slowly (from 64 to 85) because his winning margins have been small. But he’s done really well, so certainly happy to have him on board,” Size said.

Size also saddles Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) victor Helios Express, who steps beyond 1600m for the first time in a burgeoning career.

“Distance doubts can always be a bit tricky, but he seems to be okay. If he gets a nice run and if things happen to suit him in the race, he’ll probably run okay,” Size said.

“We’re trying to adapt to a distance and to a tempo, which always is an issue for the jockeys who manage the horse through the race, so it depends on the circumstances on the day and what sections they run during the race. So far, he’s been okay.”

Size’s pair will contend with 12 rivals led by Helene Feeling, Chill Chibi, Beauty Crescent, Speed Dragon, Unbelievable, Chancheng Glory, Awesome Fluke, Elliptical, Ka Ying Generation, Fallon, Simply Maverick and Star Mac.

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