Hong Kong Racing: G2 Premier Bowl Handicap
From Knightsbridge’s John Heffernan
It’s hard to go past the top 3 Mr Stunning, Thewizardofoz and Luck Bubbles. On past performances Lucky Bubbles has to come out on top, but Thewizardof oz does have “Magic” Joao Moreira on board and that is a real advantage.
Thewizardofoz will be trying to expand on the incredible run Redoute’s Choice has had lately.
from By David Morgan at HKJC
Mr Stunning (133lb) and Thewizardofoz (133lb) are locked together at the top of the weights for Sunday’s (22 October) G2 Premier Bowl Handicap at Sha Tin Racecourse, and the John Size-trained duo head into the 1200m feature having finished stride for stride in an eye-catching barrier trial seven days ago.
Hong Kong’s two highest-rated gallopers lead a strong team of four from the Size yard, with the high-class Amazing Kids (129lb) and D B Pin (116lb) also in the field of 11. Champion jockey Joao Moreira has sided with Thewizardofoz, prompting speculation that the Redoute’s Choice six-year-old might be the stable pick this time.
“You could read into that if you wanted to,” was Size’s matter-of-fact reaction to the suggestion during this morning’s (Friday, 20 October) barrier trial session at Sha Tin. “It’s a handicap and naturally every horse is rated up to his performances in the past, so on paper every horse should have an equal opportunity of winning the race.”
A week ago, Mr Stunning and Thewizardofoz left track watchers purring as they cruised past the winning post in a 1050m dirt trial, each under a hold, with daylight back to D B Pin and the rest.
With Moreira slated to ride Thewizardofoz, Nash Rawiller held the reins on Mr Stunning for that hit-out and the Australian hoop is looking forward to climbing back aboard on Sunday.
“I don’t think I’ve ever ridden a better barrier trial, at least in Hong Kong,” Rawiller exclaimed, while adding a note of caution. “Mr Stunning seems very well, he has the highest rating for a reason but whether he deserves it is a question – some of those horses have gone on and won a Group 1 and he is still trying to win one. The rating is not ideal, but on what I felt the other morning, he’s going to be very competitive.”
Mr Stunning won last season’s G2 Sprint Cup at the course and distance before running a neck second to the re-opposing Lucky Bubbles (132lb) in the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) in May. The Exceed And Excel five-year-old stepped out this term on 1 October when sixth in the G3 National Day Cup Handicap (1000m).
“Mr Stunning’s first start was good,” Size said, “it was a rain-affected track but he seemed to begin smartly and was very keen to race – the middle section was pretty quick – so he’s got that run out of his system. He had a pretty good experience so he should improve on that.”
Thewizardofoz, fourth in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize, hit a career peak when routing his opponents in the G3 Premier Cup Handicap (1400m) last time out. That was in June: the bay carried top-weight of 133lb to a dominant three-and-a-half-length success.
“Thewizardofoz hasn’t had a perfect preparation in the last couple of years but now I think he’s okay,” Size said. “His win at 1400 metres was very impressive carrying that weight but now he’s got to be going to Group 1s in set-weight races and his life becomes more difficult. But certainly he’s promising to do more.
“I think his record and his last performance says that 1400 is an ideal distance for him. But we’ll have to work with we’ve got. In a 1200-metre race, if it’s fast-run he’ll probably come into it at the finish – 1600-metre races, it’s probably doubtful that he’ll get the journey. He’s one of those 1400-metre horses that have to live with the system.”
Mr Stunning will break from gate six on Sunday, with Thewizardofoz drawn 10. Size would have preferred a better draw than 11 of 11 for D B Pin, a smart third behind Dashing Fellow (120lb) in the National Day Cup last time.
“D B Pin has got a bit of an awkward draw, to say the least, but if the first two or three horses can run along and show their natural speed he’ll probably get over there running third or fourth and hopefully just one off the fence,” Size said.
In March, Size broke new ground when Amazing Kids became his first runner in Dubai. The Falkirk gelding ran with merit for sixth in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint (1200m). The bay, drawn nine, heads into Sunday off a running-on eighth first-up in the National Day Cup.
“Amazing Kids didn’t have a long preparation or a lot of work going into the first race and so it was problematical whether he’d come out of it well, but at home he’s done extremely well since the race so I’m not concerned about him, I think he’ll run well again,” the handler said.
The high-class contest also includes G1 winner Peniaphobia (132lb) and G2 scorer Not Listenin’tome (131lb), as well as Fabulous One (113lb), Magic Legend (113lb) and Strathmore (113lb).
Sunday also features the G2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m), in which Champion Miler Beauty Only (133lb), former Horse of the Year Werther (132lb), and fellow G1 winner Helene Paragon (133lb) will compete.