The feature at Sha Tin on Saturday (23 December) may have been the Griffin Trophy, but runaway victor Win Beauty Win was quickly overshadowed later on the card by two other three-year-olds in Hot King Prawn and Exultant.
The common thread linking all three winners, though, was not just their age but their jockey, with Zac Purton in the plate aboard all three winners.
“It’s always encouraging when the new brigade comes along,” Purton said. “The future is bright after seeing some of these horses today.”
The John Size-trained Hot King Prawn remained unbeaten, winning his fifth consecutive start over the straight 1000m at his first Class 2 attempt in the Chek Keng Handicap.
Size has been reticent to throw three-year-olds into Class 2 in the past, especially this early in the season, but Hot King Prawn flashed his potential as the grey gelding produced a display of sustained speed to score by a length and a quarter. The margin was his smallest to date, but his trainer believes that was to be expected.
“It’s Class 2, you just can’t put them away as easy,” Size said. “It’s a different grade and he’s a living example of what happens. You just can’t look so good when you go up to Class 2, they can all gallop and it’s that simple. I didn’t expect any more from him today, he had to beat off a tough one in Pablosky and then they all had their chance to beat him.
“I was happy with that, and in fact, he’s probably surpassed where I would have expected him to be by now. I had no intention of running him here, but the race was a bit too tempting and it was nice to see him get that done. One step at a time.”
Size suggested that Hot King Prawn was unlikely to be seen on the racetrack again until May at the earliest.
“I’ll give him a break and see what’s on at the end of the season,” he said. “I’ll give him one or two and then hope he comes back strong as a four-year-old. There’s not a lot for him now.”
Possibly the day’s most eye-catching victory went to Tony Cruz-trained Exultant in the Class 2 Long Ke Handicap (2000m), with the Irish 2,000 Guineas placegetter stamping himself as a leading BMW Hong Kong Derby contender.