Exultant faces a weighty task in Monday’s (27 January) G3 Centenary Vase Handicap (1800m) at Sha Tin as he bids for back-to-back wins in the race.
Hong Kong’s champion stayer will shoulder 133lb against his 10 opponents with eight of those allotted 115lb or less. Only Dark Dream and Time Warp sit above that figure with 120lb imposts.
That prospect has left jockey Zac Purton with reservations ahead of the test, his first start since placing third in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) on 8 December.
“It’s never easy having to carry top-weight in these races especially coming off two strong performances at his last two starts, he really had to find everything he could second-up this season when he was able to win. Then he had another hard run in the Vase – so I think both runs took a lot out of him,” Purton said.
The Teofilo gelding impressed when winning the G2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m) in November before his admirable run behind Japan’s Glory Vase at the Hong Kong International Races.
“So here we are carrying top weight in a Group 3 – it’s not easy but the horse feels well within himself and he’s very honest so I’m sure he’ll run well,” the Australian said.
But Purton also suggested that Exultant may have lost some of the dash he showed earlier this term and which was evident when he won this race 12 months ago.
“He’s been extremely dour since the Hong Kong Vase in those trials, he hasn’t shown any speed at all but he is what he is and hopefully they can run along at a nice enough tempo to allow his stamina to come into play,” he said.