No horse was given less chance, at least according to the betting board, but that didn’t stop a rejuvenated seven-year-old Wishful Thinker storming to victory in the G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m) at Sha Tin today (18 October).
The gelding, having just his third start for trainer Dennis Yip, was sent out at win odds of 44/1 but surged late to overhaul the Tony Cruz-favourite Computer Patch by a short head with Rattan, the second least fancied of the seven runners, two and a quarter lengths back in third for Richard Gibson who formerly prepared the winner.
Wishful Thinker was winless last season, after six wins in his first two terms post-import from Australia, but he ran with some credit; finishing a neck third, behind Seasons Bloom, in this race and being beaten just one and a half lengths when sixth to Beat The Clock in the LONGINES Hong Kong International Sprint.
And now, despite his age and the weight advantage he enjoyed today, he may not be an unrealistic contender – at the very least among the locally trained horses – for this year’s HK$22 million Hong Kong Sprint showpiece. Aerovelocity, at eight in 2016, is the only HKIR Sprint winner older than six years.
Three horses have claimed the rich December Sprint prize after winning the Premier Bowl in the same season – Absolute Champion (2006), Aerovelocity (2014) and Mr Stunning (2017).
Winning jockey Derek Leung said Yip’s decision to take the blinkers off the seven-year-old was one of the keys to his success along with the genuine pace at which the race was run.