Hong Kong Horse Racing News: Weekend Preview
Chad Schofield is locked in to ride two talented contenders on Sunday (9 April), one in each of the day’s Group 2 features, the Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) and the Sprint Cup (1200m); Limitless and Thewizardofoz both are on retrieval missions of varying degrees, and similar might be said of their adept young rider.
Limitless was last seen enduring an uncomfortable run in the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) on 19 March. The British import failed to settle back in the pack under Neil Callan and was a spent force when Rapper Dragon turned up the heat in the run home. Peter Ho’s charge trailed in more than 11 lengths behind the winner to place second-last, but all previous evidence indicates that the bay is much better than that isolated example might suggest.
Dropping back to a mile for Sunday’s Chairman’s Trophy – against some of the best Hong Kong has to offer right now – Limitless will be back at the distance of his most famous win, in last June’s Britannia Handicap (1600m) at Royal Ascot. Schofield will take the race day reins for the first time, and, after galloping the Lope De Vega four-year-old this morning (Thursday, 6 April), the rider believes that Derby dud could prove beneficial in the long run.
“I think, maybe, the run over 2000 metres has really calmed him down, he’s a bit more settled and mature now,” Schofield said after partnering the headstrong galloper through 1200m in 1m 19.5s (29.0 26.5 24.0).
“He worked very well this morning,” he continued. “He’s a quirky horse, we know that, we’ve seen him over-race in his previous runs. He’s quite keen at times but today in his work, he was very relaxed.”
Limitless has raced only four times in Hong Kong for one win, an impressive Class 2 score at 1400m back in February for Silvestre de Sousa.
“He’s got an abundance of ability, you can feel that even in his track work and obviously his form suggests that too,” Schofield said. “If you ride him accordingly and get him to relax, he’s got a devastating finish and that’s what we’ll be going out to do.”
Limitless will face his Hong Kong Derby conqueror on Sunday, the exciting Rapper Dragon, as well as this season’s two-time G1 (1600m & 1400m) winner Helene Paragon, and Werther, the reigning Horse of the Year who was successful in the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) at his last start.
“I have no doubt he’ll be good enough at this level eventually,” Schofield added. “He’s going to make a better horse next season, but, on ability, let’s hope he can run well on the weekend.”
Back on the road with Thewizard
Schofield will be back in race day action for the first time since 5 March after serving a suspension and he’s raring to notch a first win since High Five’s Class 3 score on 19 February.
“I’m very hungry to get back out there, I’m normally hungry but at the moment I’m starving. I can’t wait to get back out there!” he said.
His mount in the G2 Sprint Cup (1200m), Thewizardofoz, has been off the grid for even longer.
One of last season’s great young hopes, John Size’s charge flattered to deceive, landing two smart wins at 1400m in Class 2 and Class 1, but also failing to cut the mustard when fifth as the 2.4 favourite in the Hong Kong Classic Mile and again when a lacklustre 10th in the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m).
The Redoute’s Choice gelding – drawn in gate one for this nine-runner contest – has started only once this term and that was back in October for a below-par 11th of 12 in the G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m) behind the re-opposing Lucky Bubbles. The ever-patient Size has given the five-year-old plenty of time to find his groove again and Schofield is excited to take the ride.
“It’s the same sort of thing with him as Limitless, he’s quirky but he’s got all the ability in the world,” he said. “He’s with no better trainer than Mr. Size, so I’m rapt to get to ride a quality horse like him for the leading stable in town. Let’s hope we can get it done.”
Last year’s winner Lucky Bubbles, G1 scorer Peniaphobia, and Thewizardofoz’s exciting stablemate, the four-year-old Mr Stunning, will also feature in the speed test, which is a key step-up race to the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize at the course and distance on 7 May.