Horse Racing
Purton aims to get Superich on the Classic Series trail

By David Morgan
28/12/2018 15:39

Superich wins his seasonal debut at the National Day meeting on 1 October.
Superich wins his seasonal debut at the National Day meeting on 1 October.

Hong Kong’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series kicks off in four weeks’ time, and, after Dark Dream laid down an impressive marker with a Class 2 win last weekend, Superich (126lb) will attempt to prove his mettle as a serious protagonist when he takes in Saturday’s (29 December) finale at Sha Tin.

The Frankie Lor-trained gelding is already into his second Hong Kong season, with seven starts to date yielding three wins and four minor placings. That experience gives the New Zealand-bred an edge, at this stage, over many of the high-profile autumn imports from Europe and Australasia. Acclimatisation, after all, is a big chunk of the battle for any new arrivals.

But Superich has not yet added to a campaign-opening Class 3 win at 1200m. Two defeats when stepped up to 1400m have followed: a fast-closing third and then a late-mugging second.

“He could easily have won those races, he’s a nice horse,” jockey Zac Purton said during this morning’s (Friday, 28 December) barrier trials session at Sha Tin.  “He’s been a little bit out of luck the last couple of starts but hopefully things go his way this time and we can rectify that.”

The champion jockey believes the son of Red Giant will, in time, thrive beyond the 1400m of Saturday’s Class 2 Shek Mun Handicap.

“He’s lost a bit of his turn-of-foot; he’s probably looking for a little bit further now, he doesn’t have the same zip that he had before. I think, as he steps up over a little bit more ground, he might be a little more comfortable,” he said.


Superich is edged out narrowly last start.

Purton takes the view that Superich could develop into a candidate for a berth in the three-race Classic Series, which kicks off on 27 January with the Hong Kong Classic Mile. The four-year-old championship continues three weeks later with the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) and concludes in March with the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m).

“The further he’s got into his preparation the more he’s felt like he wants more ground, so that might help him further down the track,” he said of the 89-rated galloper.

More than half of the 14 runners carry Classic Series aspirations, including G1 Prix du Jockey Club fifth Packing Warrior (125lb) who makes his local debut for trainer Tony Cruz. The Lor-trained Glorious Spectrum(118lb) was high-class in Italy, while fellow imports Kings Shield (123lb) and Gold Win (129lb) were down the field on debut behind the talented John Size-trained sprinter Raging Storm.

The former Australian racer Lone Eagle (119lb) fared well enough on debut last time; Bear Slam (120lb) is a Listed winner in Britain but has found things tough in two Hong Kong starts; and the Size-trained Mr So And So (122lb) won at the fifth attempt last time.

Those young guns will face more experienced gallopers – and solid yardsticks – such as the David Hall-trained Fast Most Furious (126lb) and Regency Bo Bo (128lb) from the Danny Shum stable.

Sha Tin’s ruby, Kwok’s Fighter

Sha Tin Racecourse under construction the year before its opening.
Sha Tin Racecourse under construction the year before its opening.

Saturday’s action celebrates 40 years since Sha Tin Racecourse opened, back in 1978. The fixture was rerouted to this weekend as a result of Typhoon Mangkhut, which caused the postponement of the 16 September race day.

The Sha Tin Racecourse 40th Anniversary Cup Handicap (1000m) is race five on the 10-contest card.

In the afternoon’s seventh event, Purton teams up with Hong Kong celebrity Aaron Kwok’s latest horse, Dancing Fighter. The Australian-bred Zoustar three-year-old makes his career debut in the Class 4 Lee On Handicap (1000m), more than a year and a few grades away from the 2020 Four-Year-Old Classic Series.

“He’s a nice enough horse, he’s shown speed in his trials and that’s usually a nice asset to have in Hong Kong,” the rider said of the Caspar Fownes-trained gelding.

“It’s a nice race, there are a couple of horses in it that go pretty well so he’s going to have to step up and get himself in the right spot, and if he can do that he’ll be competitive.

“Caspar hasn’t given him a whole heap of work but he’s done enough to go to the races and hopefully do well.”


Dancing Fighter passes the post first in a recent turf trial.

Purton steps back into the fray after a Christmas side-lined through suspension and he admitted to enjoying the festive downtime a little too much.

“I’ve spent it eating my way through Hong Kong, unfortunately. Now I’ve got to try and get it all back off!” he said.

Racing starts at 1pm with the Class 4 Lek Yuen Handicap (dirt, 1650m).