Glorious Forever galloped one race closer to a face-off with big brother Time Warp in December’s Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) after a sterling victory at Sha Tin this afternoon, Sunday, 21 October.
“My target at this moment is the Hong Kong Cup,” trainer Frankie Lor said after the four-year-old had made all under Zac Purton to claim the Class 2 IWC Excellent Handicap (1800m).
“See which one Zac wants to pick!” he added.
Time Warp emerged as a star of the Hong Kong scene last term with Purton in the plate. The Tony Cruz-trained chestnut rolled to an all-the-way demolition of world class rivals in the Hong Kong Cup and became the first horse to dip below two minutes over 2000m at Sha Tin when he added the Group 1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup in February.
But the year-younger Glorious Forever, a 1.3 favourite today, made rapid strides late last season towards challenging his full-sibling’s achievements. A breakthrough win in June caught the eye as the British import put an easy four lengths on his opponents; next start he grabbed the Sha Tin 10-furlong mark from Time Warp himself. The upstart’s advance continued today unabated.
The pair could yet clash in a dress rehearsal for the big one, with Lor mentioning a possible engagement back at Sha Tin in two weeks’ time.
“The Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse (1800m) is in early November – but I’m still thinking,” he said.
At start of play today, 31 ratings points separated the brothers, with Glorious Forever sitting on a mark of 96. Depending on how the handicapper rates the merit of today’s win, Glorious Forever would likely compete from a few pounds out of the weights proper should Time Warp’s connections opt for him to shoulder top-weight in that Group 3 handicap.
Purton was cautious post-race about just how high Glorious Forever might go and how quickly he might get there.
“It’s always hard to say – there’s a different kind of pressure that comes when you go into Group races,” he said.
“We’ve seen it plenty of times, horses coming through the grades and they get to the premier league and they can’t handle the intensity.”
But the champion jockey was impressed, nonetheless, with how the Archipenko gelding coped with a tough run to draw two and a half lengths clear of the field at his first start of the term. The winning time was 1m 46.59s
“Glorious Forever never got to relax in the run because Karis (Teetan) was on my outside on Insayshable and he kept digging up every time Packing Dragon tried to cross, so that kept the pressure on the whole way,” Purton said.
“My horse felt like he was a little bit flat on straightening but he kept rolling. He didn’t quicken much but he didn’t stop either.”
Today’s win completed a hat-trick for Glorious Forever, taking his Hong Kong record to three from five starts. Lor is confident his charge will improve again for the run.
“Today was his first start for him this season so after this I think he will be more relaxed. He’ll be better after this race,” he said.
Purton was typically forthright.
“Mentally, he’s going to have to learn a little bit. He’s got the engine, he just needs the brain!” he said.