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Hayes to unveil talented newcomer in season-opening show of strength

September 7, 2021, 7:13:19 AM

At the season-opening meeting on Sunday (5 September) at Sha Tin, David Hayes aims to make a statement of purpose for the 2021/22 season by presenting a succession of top hopes, including an intriguing first-starter.

Naboo Attack, Super Axiom, Master Montaro, and newcomer Nervous Witness, a stunning 1000m trial winner at Sha Tin on August 28, are among the eight entries for the dual Hong Kong champion trainer.

On Sunday, the Australian-bred gelding, known as Bill's Kick in Australia, will run in the Class 4 Lin Fa Shan Handicap (1000m) for Zac Purton.

“Through the line, he was excellent. He'll be one of the favorites and a difficult opponent. If he has a weakness, like Super Axiom, he probably goes on with it a little bit (over-races), and that's something we've been trying to tame the entire time he's been in Hong Kong,” Hayes said.

“He came (in late March) during Hong Kong's peak summer season, so we just took our time. Last season, he trialed well, and I thought his trial this season was promising.

“I'm quite certain he'll progress through the grades pretty fast if he comes back 10% (in race tempo).”

Naboo Attack, who returns in the Class 1 HKSAR Chief Executive's Cup Handicap, has high aspirations, according to Hayes (1200m).

“His previous trial went well, although he had a bit of a claustrophobic problem in the gates. In the trial gates, his nose hits the front and his rump contacts the rear, but you hope he doesn't have that problem at the start on race day.

“If he leaps well, he'll run well off 113 (lb), and he's certainly a quality horse.

“His body weight is a little bit more than when he won last season (1360lb).” This week, I expect him to weigh around 1375 pounds.”

Hayes feels that Super Axiom's maturity and rehabilitation from a back problem will allow him to return to the winner's circle in the Class 3 Lantau Peak Handicap (1000m).

“His previous start, he pulled up wrong behind and we decided to give him a rest because he wasn't racing anywhere near his potential, but he's come back and I felt his trial win (on August 24) was very good,” Hayes said.

“I know he goes down the straight; that's where he won his first race” (on 29 November). He's drawn gate eight on the right side of the track, and I'd want to see him perform again to see what he's capable of.”

With four-time Hong Kong champion jockeys Joao Moreira and Zac Purton facing off once more, Luke Ferraris will make his debut in the Class 5 Mount Parker Handicap aboard Dazzling Feeling, trained by the adolescent jockey's father David (1400m).

“His work has been terrific this week, he's getting ready for the race, and we're really pleased with him.” It's a bit of a deep draw (gate nine), but if we have any luck in the race, I think he's a runner,” said the South African, who is eager to make a good first impression.

“I haven't had to make a lot of adjustments. It seems like home, therefore I'm pleased with how things are progressing. I'm really looking forward to that. I'm eager to get started right now. I've been out of the saddle for too long and want to get back in.”

Moreira, who returns with a full book of ten rides, sent an alarming message to his opponents as he seeks to maintain his blistering form from last season, when he tallied 157 victories.

“I'm a winner; I enjoy what I do, and I intend to continue choosing winners.

“I haven't had to make a lot of adjustments. It seems like home, therefore I'm pleased with how things are progressing. I'm really looking forward to that. I'm eager to get started right now. I've been out of the saddle for too long and want to get back in.”

Moreira, who returns with a full book of ten rides, sent an alarming message to his opponents as he seeks to maintain his blistering form from last season, when he tallied 157 victories.

“I'm a winner; I enjoy what I do, and I intend to continue choosing winners.

“As we all know (from last season), I had some ailments that I had to deal with for a short time, and even if I have a little bit of discomfort, it's not going to stop me,” he said, evaluating Hall Of Champ's prospects in the Class 3 Sunset Peak Handicap for Caspar Fownes (1400m).

“He performed admirably in his trials. All we can hope for is that he runs in the same manner at the races.”

“It's a nice issue to have,” Moreira added, referring to rides on talents like Sky Darci and Courier Wonder. I'm looking forward to going back on those wonderful horses. I have to tell you that I have a lot of reasons to be excited.”

The season's first meeting at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday, September 5 will feature a total prize pool of HK$35 million.

The Triple Trio jackpot will be increased to HK$19 million, with the payout for a single HK$10 winning unit expected to reach HK$33 million. In addition, a HK$2 million prize will be added to the Quartet & First 4 Merged Pool, with HK$1 million awarded to both the third leg of the Triple Trio and the final race.

The Mount Parker Handicap, a Class 5 event, will begin the 10-race program at 1 p.m. on Sunday (1400m).