Karis Teetan will be riding three potential pace-setters on Sunday in three of the HKIR features. Can he have more Group 1 success?

Michael Cox’s HK Six-up: Teetan the bunny on HKIR day, but can he hold on?

Michael Cox

Michael Cox

For hutchishonkers.com

02/12/19

 

There are no prizes for being in front at the top of the straight, but Karis Teetan could find himself turning first three times on International Day and is hoping his trio of pacesetters can keep him there.

All three of Teetan’s feature race rides on Sunday – Hot King Prawn (Sprint), Ka Ying Star (Mile) and Time Warp (Cup) (he doesn’t have a ride in the Vase) – do their best work from in front or close to the lead and the three speed horses provide an intriguing set of chances for the Mauritian.

 

Karis Teetan is positive about his chances of winning another Group 1 on Sunday. photo by HKJC.

 

“Let’s hope it is a red hot leader track on Sunday,” Teetan joked on a chilly morning at trackwork.

Of course it is highly unlikely there will be any tricks to a well-grassed surface on the biggest day of the year and Teetan knows his chances will depend mostly on tactical duels, with Thursday’s barrier draw of critical importance.

Teetan seemed most bullish about the chances of Ka Ying Star, on whom he entered into an early speed battle with Zac Purton and Beauty Generation last start and finished ahead of the reigning Mile champ.

“And I might have won the race as well if Beauty Generation hadn’t taken us off the track,” Teetan said. “I think Ka Ying Star comes into the race very underrated. He has run three terrific races this time in and I think he should be hard to beat. I can see him running a big race.”

Teetan wasn’t giving anything away tactically – and obviously the draw will be instructive – but suggested his horse might have the necessary leg speed to cross or hold Beauty Generation this time, even if Purton is as determined to lead as he was in the Group 2 Jockey Club Mile.

“Horses tend to lose a bit of their zip and their gate speed as they get older,” Teetan said.

Teetan gets back aboard Hot King Prawn for the first time since winning last year’s Group 3 National Day Cup on the grey and liked what he saw from the sprinter’s seasonal return when second in the Group 2 Jockey Club Sprint.

“I was on the winner obviously and Hot King Prawn was the best run of this behind Aethero,” he said. “Hot King Prawn was first-up for nearly a year so he should be better this time.”

Then there is 2017 Cup winner Time Warp, for whom a sole lead is vital, something the now six-year-old is never likely to get with younger full brother Glorious Forever in the same race.

Time Warp hasn’t won for more than a year – a ten race sequence – and was beaten more than 14-lengths last start with little bro again playing pest, but Teetan believes the chestnut might just have one big punch left, especially in a race thrown wide open by the withdrawal of Almond Eye.

“He is an old soldier and you just never know, if he turns up ready and with the right mindset, he could be very hard to run down,” he said.

 

Pick and choose or pick and stick?

Almond Eye’s presence in the initial Cup entries scared some into taking on the Vase instead – most notably fellow Japanese raider Deirdre – and the superstar’s withdrawal from the race on Saturday raised a couple of questions about when the four feature race fields should be finalised?

 

Deirdre had an outing on the dirt at Sha Tin during the week in preparation for her tilt at the Hong Kong Vase (2400m) on Sunday. Photo by HKIR.

 

As it stands fields are announced 18-days out from International Day, on the Wednesday after the Group 2 lead-up races.

Would it make any difference if fields were announced later? And should horses be able to switch races after that if circumstances change and allow?

Even if the “unveiling” of fields at Happy Valley is a bit naff and is just one of those things the Jockey Club does because that’s the way it has always been done, moving the final fields announcement back one week would not really leave enough time before horses have to be en route to Hong Kong.

Allowing horses to switch, as the connections of Deirdre might have been inclined to do now that they find themselves in a harder race worth considerably less, would punish those who were willing to take on Almond Eye. The Jockey Club is right in making connections “pick and stick” to their races.

 

Aiming High pays off

Fortune does favour the brave and for Caspar Fownes the decision to tackle Almond Eye with Rise High is now looks like a masterstroke.

There is a school of thought that forsaking a horse’s best option to avoid one horse is folly and so it has proven this time, with Rise High now likely to start close to favourite in Almond Eye’s absence.

Rise High was second in the Group 1 Champions & Chater Cup late last season over the Vase distance of 2400m, but Fownes elected to take on Japan’s best horse over 2000m.

 

Big Macs for Moreira?

With Zac Purton wasting hard this week to get down to 117-pounds to ride Aethero in the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint, it will be interesting to see if his arch-rival Joao Moreira takes rides down in the weights on the International Day undercard.

Moreira rides 115-pounds usually, claiming two-pounds over the bottom weight in handicaps, but on big days – in which older male horses carry 126 pounds in the big races – he has been known to allow himself the luxury of taking rides of 118 or above.

Three or four pounds might not seem much but it means eating a meal he might not have had otherwise on race eve or morning, and staying fully hydrated when others are parched.

The difference may only be psychological but if it means making better decisions – like when Moreira made his decisive mid-race aboard Neorealism in the 2017 QEII Cup, a day he rode 118-pounds in the following race, a few pounds could be worth it.

Jockeys (From left to right) Vincent Ho, Zac Purton and Joao Moreira relax at the IJC rider allocation at Sha Tin on Monday. Photo by HKJC.

 

Meanwhile Purton will be reaching into reserves he hasn’t tapped into for years if he takes the full weight advantage on Aethero; the last time he rode 117 was in February 2012.

 

Honorary Aussie settles in at Sha Tin

Prince Of Arran has become a fan favourite in Australia and a robust piece of work on Monday showed the battle-hardened stayer has come through his recent Cups campaign in fine form.

Placed in the last two Melbourne Cups and a two-time winner in Australia, the six-year-old laid down a marker for his Hong Kong Vase rivals when he stretched out on the turf.

Prince Of Arran was the only horse to work on the course proper on Monday and moved well through a final-400m sectional of 23.0 seconds after working three-quarter pace to the top of the straight.

 

Big odds for the actual Aussie

Prince Of Arran may be an honorary Aussie to many punters but the only actual Australian representative touched down at Hong Kong International Airport in the early hours of Monday morning.

Kris Lees-trained mare In Her Time contests Sunday’s G1 Hong Kong Sprint and regardless of where she draws for the race, supporters are sure to get massive odds about the Group 1 winner.

In Her Time arrived in Hong Kong during the week and is the sole Australian-trained runner for the International Races on Sunday. Photo by HKJC.

 

With so many recognised local stars in the Sprint, In Her Time is likely to be squeezed out of the market and could start the longest price of her career on Sunday.

 

______________________________________

 

Make sure you buy Hutchi’s analysis to get his assessment of Hong Kong International Race week, starting with the International Jockeys’ Championship Night on Wednesday at Happy Valley! Get analysis of all races on the card, including his successful Best Selections and Strategies.

Also NEW for subscribers is the addition of “HH Live”, updates on raceday, including reads on any track patterns, prices moves, best lays and track whispers!