Little Giant (133lb) sealed victory in the Group 3 Sha Tin Vase Handicap (1200m) under a cool, collected ride from Zac Purton who claimed a six-timer at Sha Tin today (Sunday 26 May).
The win was trainer David Hall’s second Group-race win this term, having waited through a four-year blank in Pattern class before Ho Ho Khan’s victory in the Group 3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup earlier this month.
“I was pretty relieved that he could get the job done today, it was a testing sort of a race with the big weight, but he’s put up two terrific performances at Group 1 level – third and a fourth,” Hall said.
Little Giant settled fourth in the run under Purton, before peeling out in the straight – cruising to a three-quarter length victory ahead of Dragon General (115lb), with last-start Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint (1200m) seventh Wishful Thinker (129lb) in third.
A two-time winner pre-import in New Zealand, Little Giant has now secured four Hong Kong wins from 10 starts in a career that has been stop-start in the past due to physical issues.
“To be able to get that win and as you said he had a lot of troubles last year, so it’s great to see,” said Hall.
The wet track wasn’t a hindrance to Little Giant who handled the good to yielding ground with ease, carrying top-weight of 133lb to victory.
“He can handle it, I think, but the heavier the track gets the harder it gets to carry the weight, so it’s always a little bit of a concern,” Hall said.
The trainer will target Little Giant towards the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) in December at Sha Tin.
“He’ll just go through the traditional path leading into December now, he’ll have a rest and hopefully we can be there in the Group 1 sprint in December,” he said.
Little Giant finished fourth in last year’s Hong Kong Sprint, beaten a length and three quarters behind Mr Stunning, but Hall now hopes his gelding will use today’s win as a springboard to further improvement.
“It’s hard, when he’s only had as many starts as he’s had and to get where he got to, you’re still hopeful there might be a little bit more there,” Hall said.
“He got beat less than two lengths in December and got beat three quarters of a length the other day (in the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize) and if you look at it he’s got a little bit closer, he’s pulled that win off today.”
John Size’s pair of Full Of Beauty (116lb) and Gunnison (117lb) finished fourth and eighth respectively.
The Tony Cruz-trained Exultant took the day’s major, the Group 1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) under Purton.