Horse Racing
Will Power on turf mission in Thursday’s Chinese New Year Cup

By Declan Schuster
31/01/2022 14:18

Will Power is one of Hong Kong’s best performing dirt horses.
Will Power is one of Hong Kong’s best performing dirt horses.

Douglas Whyte hopes the timing is right with Will Power when his dirt specialist makes the switch for turf riches in Thursday’s (3 February) HK$3.15 million Class 1 Chinese New Year Cup Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin.

“He seems to be enjoying what he is doing at the moment and I think that’s the key to him, when he’s feeling good and he’s healthy he tends to bring that to the races, so he gets the perfect opportunity to show us if he can do something on the turf, and if not, then there’s a race for him a month later on the dirt,” Whyte said.

A seven-time winner on the dirt in Hong Kong – including last start – Will Power has competed on the grass only four times but has done so for two placings – once bravely missing by a neck at Happy Valley over 1200m in Class 2.

“I’ve always thought he would handle the turf and he’s run very well at Happy Valley previously.

“He’s been unlucky a few times and he’s only once been over 1400 metres – that day he was ridden a little bit upside down – and at the moment he’s in no man’s land with his rating – there’s not many options, so it’s the perfect race to give him another shot,” Whyte said.

Will Power – on 109 – is the highest rated horse in Thursday’s lucrative contest.

“He’s probably in as good form – if not slightly better than his last race, so he’s in a rich vein of form at the moment and if he gets a nice run then he should be giving a good account of himself,” Whyte said.

Will Power surges under Blake Shinn to score at the end of December, 2021.

Blake Shinn takes the reins aboard Will Power (133lb) and the pair steps away from gate seven against the likes of Lucky Express (131lb), Buddies (130lb), Californiadeepshot (123lb), Winning Dreamer (123lb), Master Montaro (116lb) and Cheerful Days (113lb).

Meanwhile, Stronger – who handed Whyte his first Group 1 win as a trainer earlier this month – has been sent to Conghua for a short stint before his next run.

“He’s pulled up great, he’s at Conghua where he’ll have a short break – there’s no race for him, so instead of going for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (G1, 1400m) which is out of his comfort zone – we’ll wait, trial him and freshen him up,” Whyte said.

The Not A Single Doubt chestnut captured a rip-roaring renewal of the HK$12 million G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m), defeating Sky Field and Hot King Prawn, respectively.

“He’s threatened to do something like that, and he’s been unlucky a few times, I’ve always said that when there’s a chink in any of the other’s armour that he’ll be the one to lap it up and that’s what happened the other day,” Whyte said.

David Hayes has Master Montaro engaged for the Chinese New Year Cup – expecting the hulking galloper to shine as he steps back in trip this Thursday.

“I think 1400 (metres) is his pet distance, we’ve experimented with a mile and it didn’t suit him, hopefully he can have a nice, easy run just behind the pace and he should be competitive with a light weight,” Hayes said.

The five-year-old finished fourth in the G3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup Handicap (1400m) two starts ago before finishing fifth last time out over the mile.

“We’re happy with him, he’s a big, tough and healthy horse and it looks like he’s holding his form,” Hayes said.

Matthew Chadwick has been booked to ride the Toronado gelding and the pair will break from gate 10 of 11.

Hayes collected a double last Sunday (30 January) and is looking to maintain the form this Thursday (3 February) at Sha Tin with six runners engaged across the 11-race fixture – which kicks off at 12.30pm with the Class 5 Yue Yee Handicap (1200m).