Pingwu Spark is one of Hong Kong’s buzz horses right now and the hulking grey will attempt to further enhance his burgeoning profile in Sunday’s (17 December) finale at Sha Tin racecourse.
Benno Yung’s charge has raced to three wins and two second placings in his five Hong Kong starts. That record has seen his rating rise from 70 on debut in June to its current 97 for a half-length victory last time over the re-opposing Doctor Geoff (122lb), a smart young prospect from the Tony Cruz stable.
Throw into the mix Australian G2 winner and Hong Kong debutant Good Standing (126lb) and the Class 2 Lukfook Jewellery Beloved Collection Handicap (1400m) has the look of a contest that could hold clues to future big-race outcomes.
“Pingwu Spark is facing strong competitors and he has the top-weight, but he’s continued to improve and this time he has a good draw (six) so he has a good chance to win,” trainer Benno Yung said at Sha Tin on Friday (15 December) morning.
Jockey Derek Leung, ever-present on the strapping Mastercraftsman five-year-old and successful last weekend in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile, has no fears about lugging a heavy weight.
“He’s a big, strong horse – he’s more than 1,300 pounds, so carrying 133 pounds is no problem for him,” he said.
Jockey and trainer, though, are unsure about where the pace in the race might come from. And both are open to the New Zealand-bred gelding taking the lead if necessary.
“On paper, there seems to be no obvious speed,” Yung said. “You just never know but if his natural speed takes him to the front and that’s where he’s comfortable, he can lead. If not, that’s ok, he can just stay where he’s comfortable.”
Leung agreed: “If the situation is that he is leading, that shouldn’t be a problem. He has experience now, so he’s not too keen. But also, if he settles second, fourth, fifth, it’s no problem for him.
“I think there’s still more to come from him,” he continued. “He’s in good form; he’s never too keen in the morning, so that means he keeps his energy for the races. We’re all happy with him.”
Doctor Geoff weighs in at the other end of the scale to his rival. The bay, a Listed winner at the distance for Ger Lyons in Ireland last May, went to post last time with his bodyweight at 1,006lb to Pingwu Spark’s 1,332lb. The smaller horse gets a 4lb pull in the handicap on Sunday.