Two is better than one.
That is the mantra the Siu family is abiding by when it comes to the G1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday, 9 December.
Family patriarch Siu Pak-kwan owns British raider Stormy Antarctic, while last year’s winner Time Warp represents his son, Martin Siu.
Things didn’t go to plan for Stormy Antarctic on his last visit to Sha Tin, as he pulled ferociously hard in the 2017 G1 Champions Mile and faded to finish fifth of seven behind Contentment.
However, trainer Ed Walker insists that below-par run was due to the application of first-time blinkers, and that the five-year-old – who has finished in the first four in each of his races this year – is a different proposition now he has undergone a gelding operation.
“He ran an absolute blinder to be fourth in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot last time, for half a furlong I thought we were really going to be in with a winning chance, but he wasn’t beaten far. He hasn’t put a foot wrong this year and is a model of consistency. He’s in great shape.” Walker said.
The son of Stormy Atlantic produced one of his best performances when finishing second to three-time G1 winner Benbatl in the G1 Grosser Dallmayr Preis – Bayerisches Zuchtrennen over 2000m in July, and James Doyle, who rode him in Germany, has been booked for the ride in Hong Kong.
Walker respects Time Warp but is hoping to capitalise on a chink in the front-runner’s armour. The Hong Kong star paid the price for engaging in a pace battle with his full-brother Glorious Forever – a former Walker trainee – on his last start in the G2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2000m).
“He’s obviously a very good horse on his day, but he needs to get things his own way, as we saw on his last start when he and Glorious Forever cut each other’s throats,” the handler said.
Although Stormy Antarctic has only run over 2000m once, Walker is confident the conditions of the Cup will suit better than the 1600m trip of the Hong Kong Mile.
“I think the Cup has cut up a bit,” he observed. “I’ve certainly known stronger renewals. A mile on soft ground is his optimum, hence why he isn’t in Hong Kong full time, but on faster ground he stays further, as he showed when third in the Woodbine Mile in September – he looked to be crying out for it.”
Stormy Antarctic, who is due to fly out on Saturday (1 December), is the sole British representative in the HK$28 million contest, while Deirdre, Sungrazer and Stapahnos are making the journey from Japan.