Conte carried off the Lukfook Jewellery Cup Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin this afternoon (Sunday, 16 December), quickening clear of smart handicappers and big money imports to seal a victory that sparkled with high-class potential.
But the rising talent had to share the spotlight with an established star: Zac Purton snared a landmark 900th Hong Kong win in the last and remarked with a playful grin “I told Tony Cruz this week that I’m coming for him now!”
Conte (128lb) has long looked a horse with top level possibilities and that impression held fast as the bay’s raking stride extended down the home straight for a two-length score. Joao Moreira was the man with an easy hold on the 1.5 favourite’s red reins as he eased past the post in a time of 1m 21.16s (less than a second outside the track record), clocking a final 400m split of 23.26s.
John Size has applied his famed patience with the five-year-old. The 10-time Champion Trainer gave the Starcraft gelding a four-month stretch without a race through the latter part of last season, and then waited from June until November before reintroducing his charge to the fray.
“It was a nice win today; it was just Class 2 but I had to show a little bit of patience to make sure he was up to it when he got to this class. If I’d started a little bit earlier in the season he might not have been up to it because when they go up the grades too fast it can work against them,” he said.