Trainer Caspar Fownes is hoping for a big effort from Marvel Hero in the Class 2 Chai Wan Kok Handicap (1650m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (27 December) as the five-year-old prepares for the sole Group race at the city track, next month’s G3 January Cup (1800m).
Marvel Hero was tight for room late when a fast-finishing third to The Golden Age and Dinozzo over 1800m on LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship night, 6 December.
“He was doing his best work late there, it was exactly what you want to see going forward to these sorts of races,” Fownes said. “He’s not the most straightforward horse, he has had a couple of leg issues, but he’s in good form again now. Dropping back to 1650m, with some good speed on, he’ll love that – that’s what he needs.
“Obviously his target race is two weeks later, but this is a race that falls in nicely so hopefully he can win both and reward the owner.”
Marvel Hero progressed from Class 3 to Class 1 in the space of four starts last season, highlighted by his big-margin victory in the Class 1 Happy Valley Vase Handicap (1800m) in March. That day, the Irish import had horses like Circuit Land, Packing Dragon and Horse Of Fortune in his wake, and Fownes says the January Cup has been the ultimate target for almost a year.
“He’s a horse that goes at both tracks, but he handles Happy Valley particularly well so you try to find whatever races you can target over there,” he said. “He’s now back at a mark where he is very competitive, he’s on 100 and that’s ideal for him. At that rating at that track, he’s always a chance. He’ll be coming home late again.”
Vincent Ho, who has ridden Marvel Hero in five of his six starts this campaign, is in the saddle again on Wednesday, with Fownes confirming that Joao Moreira would jump aboard once more in the 10 January feature. The son of Lord Shanakill has drawn gate four.
Marvel Hero (133lb) faces 11 rivals, including 2017 Hong Kong Classic Cup fifth California Whip (123lb), who steps up beyond 1400m for the first time since the February feature. Also in the field are potential Four-Year-Old Classic Series contenders for this season in Singapore Sling (121lb) and Insayshable (121lb), with the latter making his Hong Kong debut for John Size and Joao Moreira.
The Chai Wan Kok Handicap closes the post-Christmas card at 10.50pm, with the opener, the Class 5 Yau Kom Tau Handicap (1800m), beginning the meeting at 7.15pm.