“It was a good job from him tonight because he’s a three-year-old in Class 2,” Size said. “It looked like hard work when he arrived, but he’s managed to win a race before the end of the season so we’re pretty satisfied with that.”
Gunnison edged out his former Australian stablemate Fortune Booth, ridden by Moreira’s premiership rival Zac Purton, by a nose. The pair stopped the clock in 1m 08.56s, only four one-hundredths of a second outside the track record set by subsequent G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) winner Ivictory. However, Size does not see Gunnison scaling the same heights.
“I don’t think Gunnison has got too much upside,” Size said. “I think he’s going to hover around Class 2. They’ve run very fast time tonight but there were two horses that have run the same time, not just one. He could improve and should improve as a four-year-old, but I think the top of Class 2 would be a good rating for him.”
Moreira earlier rode the Ricky Yiu-trained Jolly Amber to victory in the Class 5 France Galop Owners Department Handicap (1800m) to score a double. His jockeys’ premiership lead increased to six wins after Purton struck a blank.
Jolly Amber broke through at his 17th time of asking, providing Yiu and owner Sammo Hung with a different backdrop to the last time the pair celebrated success together.
“He’s not quite as quick to win as the last horse I had for Sammo,” Yiu exclaimed, referring to Amber Sky, who won his first three starts and progressed to take the 2014 G1 Al Quoz Sprint (1000m) at Meydan. “In fact, Amber Sky’s last win was in Dubai so this is my first winner with Sammo since. Jolly Amber is a horse with talent, probably one of the best horses by Sepoy in Hong Kong, but he’s just been a slow maturer, both mentally and physically.
Yiu made it a brace of his own when he took the Class 4 Deauville August Yearling Sales Handicap (1000m) with the Karis Teetan-partnered Cheer Win.
“I had all sorts of words going through my mind when Karis was near the rear at the top of the straight,” Yiu admitted. “He’s been having some issues at the gates so we put him through the barriers to help him jump quicker. Unfortunately, they had a problem at the start and so he just relaxed too much and he missed it again.
“Karis had faith in the horse though, he asked him the whole way, came to the outside and knew that he had that sort of finishing burst.”
Jockey Alvin Ng scored his first win since November, taking the Class 3 ParisLongchamp Racecourse Handicap (1650m) aboard the Tony Cruz-trained Multi Facets, while 2017 Hong Kong International Sale graduate All You Know, prepared by Richard Gibson, scored a maiden success under jockey Douglas Whyte.
The Paul O’Sullivan-trained Harrier Jet, ridden by Neil Callan, and trainer Francis Lui’s Golden Glory, steered by Vincent Ho, completed the night’s winners.
Racing returns to Sha Tin on Sunday (27 May), where the season’s final Group 1, the Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m), headlines proceedings. The 11-race card is also set to feature the G3 Sha Tin Vase Handicap (1200m).