Italian form carried Beauty Only to a Hong Kong Classic Mile triumph in 2015 and on Sunday (21 January) Umberto Rispoli and Patriot Hero will try to seal another famous victory for ‘lo Stivale’ in the HK$10 million feature.
Patriot Hero is nowadays under the watch of South African handler David Ferraris at Sha Tin’s Olympic Stables but started his career in Italy, racing four times pre-import. After notching two wins at 1500m and a mile, the chestnut placed second in last season’s G3 Premio Parioli (1600m) and fifth in the G2 Derby Italiano (2200m).
Ferraris will pit the gelding against the best of his peers off the back of only one Hong Kong start, a debut 10th in a Class 2 handicap over 1400m at Sha Tin on 1 January. But that finishing position belied a positive effort: the son of Pivotal found things happening a little too quickly in the early stages, settled back at the tail under Rispoli and then closed to finish on the heels of another Classic Mile candidate, seventh-placed Ruthven.
“Patriot Hero was just beaten about four lengths and he’s a really lovely horse. It might come a bit too soon for him but you’ve got to try – they’re all level weights – and see how good he is. He galloped very well on Tuesday on the grass and I certainly don’t think he’ll disgrace himself,” Ferraris said.