Courier Wonder impresses in the G3 Sha Tin Vase, extends record to a perfect five
May 25, 2021 at 11:35:31 AM
Courier Wonder (118lb) stretched his unbeaten streak to five this afternoon (Sunday, May 23) at Sha Tin with an age and experience defying victory in the HK$3.5 million G3 Sha Tin Vase Handicap (1200m).
The three-year-old juvenile completed his flawless debut season with a classy win over a set of the circuit's best sprinters, including Computer Patch (132lb) and Sky Field (130lb), who finished second and third in last month's G1 Chairman's Sprint Prize (1200m) to Wellington on FWD Champions Day (25 April).
Under championship-leading jockey Joao Moreira, the Sacred Falls gelding broke cleanly from gate six to settle in the box seat before taking over at the 200m for a three-quarter-length win over the fast-closing Stronger (130lb) and Sky Field, respectively.
“I pulled him out in the straight, and he bolted home like he always does – good horses like him give jockeys an incredible feeling,” Moreira said.
Moreira's victory today was his second in the event, after his triumph aboard Not Listenin'tome for John Moore in 2015, while trainer John Size won his first.
“I'm really excited (for next season), he's the kind of horse that everybody wants,” Moreira said.
Courier Wonder is the absolute brother of Icebath, who finished second in last month's G1 Doncaster Mile Handicap at Randwick Racecourse.
“We had a fantastic opportunity to learn a little bit more about him today; the tempo was very natural, so he had a chance to settle behind others.
“When we first started spinning, he got a little lost and tried to run out today, shying away from the other horses, but as we advanced, he began to relax, which is fantastic,” Moreira said.
With a pre-race ranking of 100 and flashes of top-class ability, the New Zealand-bred is on the verge of performing at G1 level after just five starts.
Size reported that the gelding's long-term target will be the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) at the 2021 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races: “That is where we are going (Hong Kong Sprint).”
“There are no races I would like to run him in now, and I think he actually indicated that he was looking for a break anyway – that was the feeling I got watching the race live,” Size said, implying that Courier Wonder would be resting.
“He has potential, and we just have to handle it to keep him out of harm's way before we let him loose on a racetrack,” he said.
Size completed an early treble with debutant champions Toronado Phantom and Drops Of God, the former winning the Pakistan Star Plate (1200m) for Griffins under Chad Schofield and the latter winning the Class 4 Makarpura Star Handicap (1200m) under Moreira, who would later complete a treble.
“I think he has a lot of potential, and I'm pretty optimistic about his future – he's going to win some races,” Size said of Toronado Phantom.
Size's three-win advantage at the top of the Hong Kong trainers' championship was maintained with a treble as he seeks a 12th victory, while closest rival Caspar Fownes caught three of his own and climbed to 62 wins in overall second position.
“He seems like the sprinter he's meant to be, he's well-behaved, and even on his first day of racing, he manages to do all right,” Size said of Drops Of God.
The Hulk won the Class 3 Vengeance Of Rain Handicap (1400m) under Karis Teetan, before Hall Of Champ won the first part of the Class 3 Indigenous Handicap (1400m) later in the day under Blake Shinn.
Both Fownes and Moreira completed their trebles in the finale, the Class 3 River Verdon Handicap (1200m), as Killer Bee beat his rivals by a length and a half as the race's 1.6 favorite.
“He had everything going against him today, the doors, the situations that didn't support him – he was exposed four wide with no protection, but at least he was sweet and comfortable underneath.
“When I dug him up, he demonstrated that he has consistency and class, and only good horses will prevail in those circumstances,” Moreira said.
Racing in Hong Kong resumes next Wednesday (May 26) at Happy Valley.