Back-to-back bid for Voyage Warrior in Easter Monday’s G2 Sprint Cup
April 5, 2021, 9:55:26 AM
Ricky Yiu has a good reputation for developing sprint potential, with four wins in the G2 Sprint Cup (1200m) among other accomplishments, and on Easter Monday (5 April), he heads to Sha Tin with Voyage Warrior bearing the expectations of his team in a bid for back-to-back victories in the HK$4.5 million contest.
Yiu is hoping for more progress from the third-season chestnut as he starts his march towards the G1 Chairman's Sprint Prize (1200m) on FWD Champions Day, in search of a record-setting fifth Sprint Cup victory (25 April).
I always think there's plenty left in the tank – I don't think we've seen his best yet,” Yiu said of the 113-rated horse, who has five wins from 16 starts in Hong Kong.
The five-year-old is looking to rebound after finishing ninth at the rear of the field in a 1200m Class 1 race last time out, while Wellington – whom he will see again – finished seven and a half lengths ahead of him.
“Early on, I believe he was caught too far behind last run, which cost him the run, but I have a lot of confidence in him – he's doing well,” the handler said.
Yiu's previous sprint heroics include Sacred Kingdom's world champion status, Amber Sky's Dubai triumph, Ultra Fantasy's Japan takeover, and Fairy King Prawn's late-90s trailblazing exploits.
And, with Holy Kingdom (2008 and 2009) and Ultra Fantasy (2010), he claimed the first three editions of the Monday's Sprint Cup in a row before his often perplexing chestnut shot clear at 23/1 for a three-quarter length score under light rain exactly a year ago.
“Vincent (Ho) won on him last year, and there was a bit of a cut in the field, but it's not really important, even though there appears to be a little bit of rain expected to begin on Thursday (1 April),” Yiu said.
Prior to his ninth over a fortnight ago, the Australian-bred son of Declaration Of War finished a creditable fourth in the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) as the market's second choice behind eventual winner Hot King Prawn.
However, Hot King Prawn and Classique Legend are absent from Monday's competition, while Wishful Thinker, Computer Patch, Regency Legend, Sky Field, and Winning Dreamer remain.
“The race is more balanced, but I'm having trouble with the draws these days,” said last year's champion handler.
Ruan Maia, who won his third Hong Kong race in Sha Tin's midweek all-dirt event, will take the lead, and the pair will start from gate 11.
“On Monday (March 29), he (Ruan Maia) jumped him (Voyage Warrior) out of the 1800 metre chute on the grass at Sha Tin, and he performed very, really well,” Yiu said.
“He did good at Conghua, but he's a horse who still wants to please you,” Yiu explained.
Because of his durability, the chestnut has six wins from 14 races and four other top-three finishes, but he has failed to finish higher than fourth in three attempts over the mile.
“Over the mile, after a couple of attempts, I believe he will get the extra 200 metres,” Yiu said.
Neil Callan of Ireland holds the ride for Monday's HK$4.5 million race, and the pair will leave from gate three.
Size receives a standing ovation in Monday's G2 Sprint Cup.
Despite having two horses entered for Monday's G2 Sprint Cup, 11-time champion trainer John Size will be reflected solely by Beauty Applause, as Hot King Prawn will be resting for the remainder of the 2021 racing season.
“He's had enough for the season, this is his six-year-old year and he won two meetings, one of which was a Group 1 so he's only had enough for the time being, but I've placed him away for the season and I'll try to keep him running as a seven-year-old, and if he's able to work up we'll go to the races,” Size stated.
Hot King Prawn finished fifth in last month's Class 1 dash behind Wellington after winning the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup in January.
radiance Applause, a dazzling chestnut son of Stratum, takes a fourth-place finish at Happy Valley to Sha Tin ahead of his debut at Pattern race stage.
“The race is there, and he's on a target of 102; there's not much on for him, but we'll try this; he likes the course and distance, so you never know,” Size explained.
The 102-rater will be ridden by Joao Moreira, and the pair will start from gate seven. The Brazilian also pairs with Waikuku from barrier four in the day's other G2 race, the Chairman's Trophy.
“He appears well, he hasn't taken a step back, he appears to be in very good form, he's been trialing well, his trackwork is standard, and he's fit and stable – he can run well again,” the trainer added.
Champion's Way will be combined with Chad Schofield from the start of the Chairman's Trophy, forming a two-pronged attack for scale.
The Easter Monday (5 April) 10-race card at Sha Tin gets underway at 1pm with section one of the Class 4 Lugard Handicap (1200m).