John Size upbeat over Drops Of God, Blaze Warrior as championship hopes flicker
June 25, 2021, 10:15:56 AM
Although the 2020/21 Hong Kong trainers' championship is obviously Caspar Fownes' to lose, John Size believes Drops Of God and Blaze Warrior can keep the trainer's fading chances of a 12th title alive when they lead the trainer's quality entry in Sha Tin on Saturday (26 June).
Size, who trails Fownes by seven wins (68-75) with six meetings remaining until the season ends on 14 July, is dismissive of his prospects of breaking the record with other 11-time champion and Australian compatriot George Moore for the most trainers' titles in Hong Kong racing history.
“Caspar now has a significant advantage, and it will be difficult to bring him back from there. Size turned his focus to Drops Of God in the Class 3 Mount Cameron Handicap, saying, "He continues winning races, he looks the winner this far out, anyhow" (1200m).
“He raced decently (last start, when third to Diamond Brilliant as a 1.5 favourite at Sha Tin on 6 June), he covered some ground and battled on okay, so you couldn't be too harsh on him, you couldn't evaluate him too severely on that performance,” Size added.
Joao Moreira, who is on his way to a fourth jockeys' title with 146 victories this season, 27 more than Zac Purton, is similarly convinced Drops Of God will bounce back from his last-start setback, which the Brazilian believes was a result of circumstance.
“We were not thrilled with the circumstances - he drew wide, he had to cover territory facing the breeze, but he still put up a solid effort,” Moreira added. “I can't be dissatisfied with the horse; he did his best; it was only a matter of circumstances that caused him to lose.
“(Barrier) four is much better than 10; supposedly, it's going to be a fast-paced race, and he'll receive cover.” I haven't spoken with John yet, and I'm not sure what directions he'll give me, but this isn't a one-dimensional horse.
“He has the ability to lead, sit, and even come from further back than middle. Under normal conditions, I believe he will go out there with a very strong chance of winning. He has won first-up and raced well second-up, so I'm looking forward to seeing what he does this weekend.”
Size saddles nine horses in the 10-race schedule, including top-weight Blaze Warrior (133lb) in the Class 4 Sai Wan Shan Handicap (1200m).
The Sebring gelding, who won his lone race over this course and distance, has drawn barrier eight for Moreira as Size continues his careful schooling with the three-year-old, who had 14 trials before his debut.
“He had some developmental issues, but every time I stopped him and got him going again, he appeared to improve,” Size said. “He always seemed to require a little additional schooling as we went along, but he ultimately got there, and it was definitely worth the wait.
“I think he got a little lost in the race. He was covering a lot of territory and wasn't moving very fast, but he responded promptly when he was requested to leave. He did a good job finishing the race.
“When he got home, he went about his business as usual. He performs well and has always been healthy, so I believe he is ready to compete again.
“He doesn't leap that fast, but I think with some racing, he'll get acclimated to the speed of our races and he'll definitely start better as time goes on.”
Size said there would be no further late-season additions, but added, "But I'm always open to a nice surprise — I'll accept that if it's on."
Keith Yeung is optimistic that Natural Storm will benefit from a softer barrier in the Class 3 Needle Hill Handicap (2000m).
Ricky Yiu's charge finished fourth from gate 13 behind Enzemble over 2000m at Sha Tin on May 30, but will start from barrier five on Saturday.
“We had a difficult barrier draw the last time, so we had to take him back. We have a better barrier this time, so I hope we can go closer,” Yeung remarked. “I believe the light weight (118lb) is really beneficial. He's in greater shape than last time, so I expect him to run a faster race.”
Saturday's (26 June) 10-race day at Sha Tin gets underway at 1:00 p.m. with the Class 5 Tung Wan Shan Handicap (dirt, 1650m). Exultant's retirement ceremony will begin at 12:10pm at the Parade Ring.