Champion’s Way confirmed his early position as the front-runner on the road to next season’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series with a classy win in the G3 Lion Rock Trophy Handicap (1600m) at Sha Tin this afternoon, Sunday, 2 June.
“The target next season is the Four-Year-Old Classic Series, he won’t race again this season,” the Australian-bred three-year-old’s owner Dr. Arthur Leung said.
Trainer John Size observed: “Now he’s rated 100-and-something, and that’s a pretty good mark for a four-year-old to start the new season on – it’s about as good as it gets.”
It is a rare thing for a three-year-old to win a Group race in Hong Kong. Three years ago, Rapper Dragon won the inaugural edition of this race to buck that status quo and went on to become the first horse to sweep the Classic Series, winning the Hong Kong Classic Mile, Hong Kong Classic Cup and the BMW Hong Kong Derby the following season.
Champion’s Way (118lb), in securing his sixth win at his seventh career start, appears well-placed to kick on into a successful four-year-old campaign. But while today’s victory enhanced the Australian-bred’s reputation, it also showed that there is a roughness to his edges.
“I thought he should have won more easily than he did,” jockey Joao Moreira said of the 1.8 favourite. “When I asked him to quicken, he picked up for me and felt like he was going to go on and win well. But he just snaked around again, he shifted and that cost him something.
“He still needs to learn but I’m not worried for the future. He’s a young horse and he is still learning so you have to be happy with what he has done so far and it looks like he will only get better next season.”