Zac Purton believes Circuit Stellar’s barrier manners will be crucial to the outcome of the HK$4.2 million G3 Celebration Cup Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (24 September) when Tony Cruz searches for a third successive victory in the season’s first Group contest.
To face only five rivals this weekend – Beauty Joy (135lb), Healthy Happy (125lb), Straight Arron (125lb), Encountered (123lb) and The Golden Scenery (115lb) – Circuit Stellar competed in 15 races last season for three wins, six minor placings and finishing no further back than sixth in a sustained display of remarkable consistency.
Starting last season on a mark of 80, the Irish-bred finished the campaign on 105, having posted two Group 3 second placings with performances Purton hopes can deliver his fourth G3 Celebration Cup Handicap triumph after previous success with California Spangle (2022) and Beauty Generation (2018 and 2019).
“He (Circuit Stellar) is a little bit of a tricky horse from the gates. Sometimes he steps a bit slowly and if that happens, he races a bit further back. But if he begins well, he can be right there. It will be up to him on the day,” Purton said.
“I haven’t spoken to Tony about the horse yet, either, so I’m not sure what his thoughts are but the horse was racing really well towards the back end of last season and Tony’s horses are racing well, so hopefully he can come out and do something for us.”
Apart from Circuit Stellar, Cruz – who has won the past two editions of the race with California Spangle and Buddies – will be represented by Beauty Joy and The Golden Scenery.