Jolly Banner might be in the twilight of his career as a nine-year-old but that didn’t stop him from snaring second in last month’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) against an international field and his recent form has trainer Ricky Yiu brimming with optimism ahead of Sunday’s (24 January) G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m).
“I’m really happy with him – more than happy, especially because he is a nine-year-old – I think he’ll run very well,” Yiu said.
With 45 Hong Kong starts under his belt and HK$20.48 million in the bank, this weekend’s HK$12 million sprint represents his second last chance to snare a G1 before the season’s final top-level sprint, the Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) on 25 April.
“This will be his last season – he’s a lovely animal, we’re so happy with where he is now and I’m happy for the owner,” Yiu said.
Although he is in the final stages of his career with retirement looming at season’s end, the Lonhro gelding is defying his age on the track and is arguably in career-best form with three runner-up efforts from four starts this term, including his slashing second last start to Japan’s Danon Smash in the HK$22 million showcase sprint.
“I’ve been looking after him since day one and I know what he needs – space between his runs that’s how we manage his legs, around six weeks – I can’t run him too much,” the reigning champion trainer said.