After lighting up Happy Valley with a treble on Wednesday night (16 February), trainer Ricky Yiu is quickly turning his attention to Group 1 glory with Mighty Giant in Sunday’s (20 February) HKD$12 million Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) at Sha Tin.
Third in this race last year to Waikuku, Mighty Giant returns second-up this season following an extended break after finishing a distant last in September’s Group 3 Celebration Cup Handicap (1400m), where he was found to have bled post-race.
But Yiu – Hong Kong’s champion trainer in 2019/20 – believes an extended stint at Conghua has the hulking chestnut primed to bounce back this weekend.
“He’s really good, he bled last start, but I must say, I am very happy with him – especially since he has been at Conghua,” Yiu said.
A winner of seven races in Hong Kong, the Power gelding stunned four rivals at Sha Tin in April of last year – his most recent win and biggest to date – when leading from the get-go under an inspired ride from Neil Callan to savour victory in the Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) against Southern Legend, More Than This, Champion’s Way and Waikuku.
In preparation for his return, Yiu’s charge has had two trials on the Conghua turf, crossing the post first in his latest effort over 1200m in 1m 12.15s (25.3, 22.7, 24.1).
“He’s trialled twice since his last run and we’ve scoped him which has come back clean, he looks well and he returns fresh – he’ll run a good race,” Yiu said.
Across his 2019/20 and 2020/21 campaigns, Mighty Giant enjoyed a meteoric rise which featured five consecutive wins – twice scoring at Class 2 level.
“He looks promising off the trials, a lot of horses go to Conghua and they freshen up, they enjoy the tracks – he’s refreshed and 1400 (metres) is his best trip,” Yiu said.
Derek Leung takes the reins this weekend and the pair step away from gate five against Waikuku, Ka Ying Star, Sky Field, Wellington, Healthy Happy, Lucky Express and Californiadeepshot.
“He’s trialled well, I’m looking forward to seeing him run this Sunday – all the feedback from Conghua is good – it’s positive,” Yiu said.
Yiu holds concerns about Mighty Giant at the beginning of his races – an occasionally slow starter who generally does his best work at the head of the field.
“Sometimes he can be a bit slow at the start, so he does need a jockey that knows him – that can be even better for him because if you ask him to chase (early on) he won’t finish off the race,” Yiu outlined.
The six-year-old New Zealand-bred – who tips the scales at around 1200-plus pounds – has banked HKD$10.52 million for connections in Hong Kong.
“We’re looking forward to it (the race). Derek is a bigger rider, so he’ll be able to stretch himself because this horse is a big horse,” Yiu said.