Pakistan Star won the Group 1 QEII Cup over 2000m in 2018. Photo by HKJC.


Michael Cox’s HK Six-up: Paul O’Sullivan’s radical plan to shake up Pakistan Star with sprints

By Michael Cox  @KemblaCoxy




Paul O’Sullivan has come up with a “radical plan” to rejuvenate Pakistan Star’s career with a sprint start and Australian jockey Blake Shinn will be the man charged with guiding the sometimes wayward talent.

Tuesday’s dirt trial at Sha Tin with Shinn aboard will be the first of two jump-outs ahead of a first-up shot at the Group 2 Premier Bowl on October 20.

Pakistan Star famously won his griffin debut over 1200m back in 2016 but has since campaigned at 1400m and beyond, with his Group 1 wins coming over 2000m and 2400m.

The now six-year-old had three starts for O’Sullivan at the end of last term and while Pakistan Star wasn’t beaten more than 2.5 lengths in any of them, the Kiwi trainer is thinking outside the square as he looks to regain the enigmatic horse’s former spark.

“He was looming into those races looking like he would win them but then just knocking up over that last 200 or 300 metres,” O’Sullivan said.

“I just thought it was time to try something different with him. If it works it will be a masterstroke and if it doesn’t we can just progress him up to a mile and back to his proven trips.”

Champion miler Able Friend stormed home to win the 2015 Premier Bowl with a spectacular swooping finish and O’Sullivan believes Pakistan Star has shown some signs a sprint trip is within his horse’s range.

“If you look at his 1200m dirt trials, he is an absolute machine, there wouldn’t be many horses that could stick with him,” he said.


Beauty Generation has them at limit

Hong Kong stars Beauty Generation and Zac Purton. Photo by HKJC.


Confirmation that Beauty Generation will kick-off his campaign in the Group 3 Celebration Cup on October 1 has rival trainers scrambling to find lightweight jockeys.

Beauty Generation will be gunning for a third straight win in the traditional starting point for top horses and his near-record rating of 137 and handicap conditions of the race will leave most of his rivals assigned the limit weight of 113-pounds (51kg).

The two-time Horse of the Year will haul top weight of 133-pounds (60kg) as he chases his third straight win in the race, with Southern Legend (119-pounds) (54kg) the only likely rival not on the limit.

Frankie Lor has already locked in lightweight South African Grant van Niekerk to ride 2018 Hong Kong Derby winner Furore, while Joao Moreira will ride Waikuku for John Size, leaving few other options for those who want to throw their horses in the deep end.

One horse that won’t be there is John Size’s promising miler Conte, who is sidelined for what is listed on the HKJC website as a “bone stress injury”.

Danny Shum is weighing up whether to skip the race with Group 1 winner Seasons Bloom, who placed an encouraging second when first-up in the Chief Executive’s Cup on opening day.

One of the great aspects of Hong Kong racing is that there is nowhere to hide for the top horses. So while Shum and others might give the Celebration Cup a miss in favour of the Group 2 Sha Tin Trophy three weeks later, Beauty Generation will probably be waiting for them there as well.


Vale Geoff Lane

There are Hong Kong racing careers and then there are lifetime achievements like the contribution star jockey, trainer and Jockey Club official Geoff Lane made to Hong Kong racing.

Lane died, aged 80, on the Gold Coast on Sunday.

Lane had already compiled a Hall of Fame career in Australia as a superstar apprentice and renowned big race rider before he arrived in Hong Kong for the start of the professional era.

With weight a constant battle throughout his 20s, Lane moved to Hong Kong to take advantage of the higher weight scale.

After riding a total of 109 winners over the first eight seasons of professional racing in Hong Kong, Lane then served time was an assistant starter, riding instructor and steward.

It was as trainer that Lane would continue to be a popular figure at Sha Tin, preparing 349 winners over 16 seasons between 1998 and 2003, before training for four more years in Macau.


Lor Thinkin’ positive with import

After last season’s success in the four-year-old series with Furore, Mission Tycoon and Dark Dream, it is no surprise that Frankie Lor has a host of Hong Kong Derby hopefuls on his hands, but he is now racing the clock with Australian-import Thinkin’ Big.

The two-time Group 3 winner has been out of work since August 30 after a left suspensory injury.

A hopeful Lor said “there is still time” to get the four-year-old on track in time for the first leg of the four-year-old series in January, and reported all is well with his other imports.

Of his 2020 Derby team, Lor seems most bullish about the prospects of Surely Sacred, who is yet to be renamed but has been assigned brand D085.

“He has galloped three times now and looks to have acclimatised well,” Lor said of the dual-Group 2 winner from Tony Pike’s stable in New Zealand.


Millard a popular man  

Tony Millard was quick with a quip when asked about the eye-catching effort of South African-import Cot Campbell at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Cot Campbell bombed the start and flew home to dead-heat for second behind Happy Fun and a step up in trip should see the five-year-old start strong in the market next time out.

Asked whether or not Cot Campbell had any problems that contributed to the horse’s underwhelming form in three starts last campaign, the popular South African-trainer said;


“No, the only problem was we couldn’t get a jockey to stick with him, but we shouldn’t have any issues this time, by the time I got home from the races there must have been more than 20 messages on my phone with jockeys asking for the ride.”


Whyte’s win-per-meeting streak over 

Four meetings into his rookie season, Douglas Whyte went within a short head of maintaining a win-per-meeting record start to his career on Sunday but his statistics remain impressive.

Before La Panache was bloused in a Class 5 at Sha Tin, the South African had trained one winner at each of the first three meetings, with each of the winners classic patch-up transfer jobs.

Just how much patching up Whyte had to do is evident when you look at the previous records of Adonis, Big Fortune and Last Kingdom.

All “Hong Kong maidens”, the trio had a combined record of zero from 55 starts before their first-up wins this term.

So when Whyte sends three horse to Happy Valley on Wednesday don’t be fooled by what looks like their subpar form: his runners Storm Signal, Iron Boy and Best Alliance have a combined record of four from 70 for their previous trainers.



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