David Hayes rolls out another unraced galloper hopeful of continuing stable rebuild
April 13, 2021, 7:00:48 AM
After a good April performance, David Hayes believes first-starter Shenron will add to the stable's momentum when he competes in the second segment of the Class 4 Larch Handicap (1200m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday (14 April).
Hayes has a winner at each of the three April meetings so far, with Fantastic Treasure, Fearless Fire, and Trader, and is hoping Shenron, who has been sharpened by four trials in preparation for his debut, will continue the streak.
“He's shocked me with the quality he's displayed, he's by Shocking the (2009) Melbourne Cup champion but he's shown a touch of style with the speed he's got,” Hayes said, referring to the import's stylish trial second behind Huge Tiger over 1000 metres on 27 March at Happy Valley.
“We tried riding him a little colder in the Valley the other day, and he reacted well. He'll come from off the pace and be quick late in a sprint with a lot of pace.
“Happy Valley is always difficult for a first starter, but (in the trial at Happy Valley), he sat back and ran on, and they're always safer for a run under lights, but I wouldn't be shocked if he came near.
“He seems to be capable of running a mile, and if he can go any faster, he might be very good.”
Shenron is drawn in barrier eight and will be ridden by Blake Shinn.
Hayes, a dual champion Hong Kong handler, is gradually revitalising his squad and believes horses like Fantastic Treasure, Master Montaro, and Harmony N Blessed can be bracketed with more emerging young forms before the end of the season.
Chad Schofield, whose Sunday double included Fantastic Treasure and the John Size-trained Dragon Baby, rides Exuberant in the first segment of Danny Shum's Class 4 Larch Handicap (1200m).
“He shot out of the field in his second start (finishing third behind Fire Ball at Happy Valley on March 24) and finished the race very well. Unfortunately, he has drawn a poor gate (11), but hopefully we can get some luck in the run and he can finish as he did last time,” Schofield said.
“Since then, his work has been fine, and he has grown. Let us hope he will lift the bar once more.”
Schofield now has 18 points on the season after a pair of victories on Sunday.
“It was fantastic to win on two good young horses, and Fantastic Treasure is still undefeated, so he's an interesting horse,” he added.
Frankie Lor is still aiming to prolong a good recent streak, capped by a Sha Tin treble on Sunday – a haul that leaves him with 49 wins for the season, just seven behind Size (56), who leads Caspar Fownes (54) by two points in a crowded trainers' championship.
Lor will ride Reliable Team, a surprising winner last time out, in the Class 2 Cedar Handicap (1800m) for Karis Teetan.
“He did good last time out,” Lor said. “The owners were pleased, and I was pleased.
“He's been to Conghua then, the horses love it there, and he's returned in fine shape.”
“He's pulling a heavy load (133lb) this time, so it all depends on whether he can get a decent position.”
Lor aims to challenge former boss Size for the trainers' title with six race runners scattered through the nine-race schedule at the city circuit.
“I do give it my all. They run well if the horse is stable and in good shape. First, I try to keep the horse healthy, and then they run a nice race.”
The second part of the Class 5 Walnut Handicap will begin at 6.45pm on Wednesday (14 April) at Happy Valley (1800m).