Horse Racing
Rise High aims to emulate Exultant in G3 Premier Plate

By David Morgan
21/06/2019 15:59

Rise High proved he was up to G1 class last time.
Rise High proved he was up to G1 class last time.

Rise High (133lb) will attempt to make Group 1 form count when he carries top-weight in the G3 Premier Plate (1800m) at Sha Tin on Sunday, 23 June.

The talented five-year-old’s only previous Pattern race success came as a juvenile, in the G3 Golden Fleece Stakes (1600m) at Leopardstown, Ireland. But trainer Caspar Fownes has long regarded his charge as a top-liner and a new-found maturity brought a strong late run to second behind Hong Kong’s top stayer, Exultant, in the G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) last month.

“He ran well,” jockey Vincent Ho said. “He just got beat about a length off Exultant and that day they went a slow pace and Zac (Purton) took off early. If the pace had been genuine, it’s hard to say, but I probably could have got him.”

Having come up just short in the Hong Kong season’s final major, the bay will attempt to make amends in the campaign’s last Pattern race. The hope from the Fownes camp is that Rise High can follow a recent trend and springboard from a Premier Plate victory to top-flight honours: Exultant won this race off top-weight last year en route to three G1 wins, while Helene Paragon took the late-season feature in 2016 and then sealed a G1 brace the next term.

“As long as he relaxes, he can run home very strongly – when you relax him he can produce something,” Ho said.

Vincent Ho is on track to win the Toy Cruz Award as the season’s best home grown rider.
Vincent Ho is on track to win the Toy Cruz Award as the season’s best home grown rider.

The rider, who is enjoying his best season with 51 wins on the board, had not ridden Rise High in a race prior to last start but knows his partner well nonetheless. Ho has been in the plate for a couple of barrier trials and plenty of track work in the past, notably during the educative process in the months after the gelding arrived from Ireland.

“You can’t fire him up because when you do he’ll travel very strongly and won’t finish,” Ho continued. “A good draw (3) will definitely help, he has shown before that he could pull quite hard but now he relaxes a bit more, that’s why even over 2400 metres last time he was able to run on, the younger him would not have been able to handle that.”

And the jockey has no concern about racing over a distance 600m shorter than last time. Rise High’s four Hong Kong wins have all been achieved at a mile.

“I think he’s fine, he’s shown in his results before that he can handle 1800 metres, so it’s not a problem,” he said.

Time to Bloom again?

Seasons Bloom has not won since the 2018 G1 Stewards’ Cup.
Seasons Bloom has not won since the 2018 G1 Stewards’ Cup.

The 11-runner field features plenty of quality. Two-time G1 winner Time Warp will also shoulder 133lb, with the Tony Cruz-trained front-runner aiming to recapture something like his best form after four dismal displays on the bounce.

Seasons Bloom (130lb) is another G1 winner seeking a return to form. The Danny Shum-trained six-year-old has not scored since a career-best win in the G1 Stewards’ Cup 17 months ago, but has shown some finishing dash of late, notably when behind Beauty Generation in the G2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m) and last time out in the G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m).

“His last run, he actually ran a good race,” said Grant van Niekerk, who will ride Seasons Bloom in a race for the first time on Sunday. “I worked him yesterday and he actually gave me quite a good feel so I hope he gives me a good ride. I could feel his ability and his class when I gave him that little gallop.

“I think maybe he just lost his confidence along the way a little bit but I think now we’re towards the end of the season he’ll be more competitive.”

Seasons Bloom and Simply Brilliant prove no match for Beauty Generation in the G1 Champions Mile.

Trainer Frankie Lor will saddle Champions Mile third Simply Brilliant (131lb) and Ruthven (113lb), while champion trainer John Size has the smart pair of Insayshable (122lb) and Dinozzo (126lb).

As well as Time Warp, Cruz will look to the four-year-old Helene Leadingstar (113lb) and the enigmatic Savvy Six (113lb); the useful Citron Spirit (128lb) represents trainer Ricky Yiu, while Me Tsui relies on Mongolian King (113lb).

Sunday’s card offers a G3 double-header, with the Premier Cup Handicap (1400m) scheduled as race three on the programme. That contest features a couple of rising stars in the Lor-trained Flying Thunder (113lb) and the John Moore-trained Styling City (118lb).

The afternoon’s action also includes the exciting young speedster Voyage Warrior in action in the Class 3 Ma On Shan Handicap (1000m). Champion jockey Zac Purton will ride the Yiu stable’s speedster for the first time.

The first race is the Class 5 Tate’s Cairn Handicap (1200m) with a start time of 12.45pm.