Horse Racing
All systems go as Yiu seeks Takamatsunomiya Kinen win with Blizzard

By Andrew Hawkins in Nagoya
24/03/2018 11:23

Blizzard exercises at Chukyo Racecourse this morning.
Blizzard exercises at Chukyo Racecourse this morning.

Trainer Ricky Yiu has given stable star Blizzard his tick of approval after the chestnut completed his preparations for Sunday’s (25 March) G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1200m) with a light piece of work at Chukyo Racecourse on Saturday morning (24 March).

Flanked by an entourage of owners, supporters and media from both Japan and Hong Kong, Yiu and jockey Karis Teetan watched on as Blizzard completed a lap of the Chukyo dirt under work rider Stanley Wong at little more than a canter.

“He’s ready to go,” Yiu said. “Today’s work was very similar to yesterday, a walk and trot at the beginning and then a canter around one lap. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully things work out better than the last time he raced in Japan.”

That run came in last October’s G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m), Japan’s only other top-level sprint. Blizzard missed the start under Gerald Mosse and the Starcraft six-year-old ended up midfield and wide.

“We tried to get a Hong Kong jockey to come across but it was the same day as some big races at home so we turned to Gerald as he had ridden the horse before,” Yiu said. “Gerald is a top jockey but he is not the type to be too aggressive early, so when he missed the start, Blizzard’s race was over. To run fifth under the circumstances, it was very good.

“I think Karis is the right jockey for the job. He is aggressive, he should have the horse in the first five and I am sure he has a plan after walking the track yesterday.”

Blizzard stretches his legs at Chukyo Racecourse ahead of the Takamatsunomiya Kinen on Sunday.
Blizzard stretches his legs at Chukyo Racecourse ahead of the Takamatsunomiya Kinen on Sunday.

Post-gallop, Blizzard weighed in at 504kg, or approximately 1,111lb. That is below his regular racing weight in Hong Kong, Yiu says, but it is comparable to his weight both when he contested the Sprinters Stakes and also when he arrived from Hong Kong.

“When we left Hong Kong, he was a little bit heavier but he was that weight shortly after he arrived – I remember because it was ones across the board,” Yiu said. “I’m not concerned though, because he has been eating everything up, to the eye he looks bigger and his manners suggest that he’s fresh too, so I think he’s in the ideal spot for Sunday.”

Sunday’s feature will see Blizzard will become just the second Hong Kong horse to run in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen. The first, Paul O’Sullivan’s Aerovelocity, took victory in 2015 as part of a stellar campaign that also included wins in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) and the G1 KrisFlyer Sprint (1200m) in Singapore.

Blizzard will jump from gate three in the 18-horse field and sits on the sixth line of betting on the Japanese totalisator in early wagering. The favourite is last season’s champion sprinter Red Falx, who will be looking to add a Takamatsunomiya Kinen crown to his two Sprinters Stakes victories. He will jump from gate six.

The Takamatsunomiya Kinen will jump at 2.40pm Hong Kong time and will be simulcast between races four and five at Sha Tin on Sunday.