New Zealand sourced horses took out six races on the 10 race card at Sha Tin on Thursday.
Sky Field (Deep Field) boosted his Hong Kong Classic Mile credentials with his second win of the term in the Class 3 Shanghai Handicap (1200m).
The talented son of Deep Field. who was purchased out of Trelawney Stud’s New Zealand Bloodstock draft as a yearling, was cuddled throughout the race by Moreira to score with plenty in hand – more than the official three quarters of a length – rounding up his six rivals from the rear of the field in some style.
But, while an exciting talent, the chestnut does have a few kinks to iron out, notably his mid-race manners and a sparky attitude, which sees him over-race.
“He’s still learning as you can see – it could have all gone wrong with his inexperience,” trainer Caspar Fownes said.
“Hopefully he keeps learning because he needs to start to settle down a bit more in the middle of the race if he’s going to be a top horse, but hopefully he does that with experience.”
Sky Field gave the strong impression that a step into Class 2 next time will be well within his scope, as only once did Moreira need to lift his whip.
“I’m not worried about Class 2 – he’ll probably get six points for the win which will take him to 86, which is a nice weight as he’ll go up in class but down in weight,” said Fownes, who leads the premiership with 11 wins, five clear of his closest pursuer.
“When they slackened up the pace it was very easy for him to get on the bit and he wanted to be a little bit keen and over-race but he came back to Joao in the end and he did his job nicely,” Fownes said.
“Even though he’s only won by three parts of a length it was a good effort – I’m very happy with it. He’s just going to have to learn to be a bit more tractable mid-race – he’s a horse with a big engine but he just needs to learn to start to chill, he’s a great horse for the future but obviously for this season we have to see how high we can take him – you never know,”
Three-time champion trainer Fownes has tasted Four-Year-Old Classic Series success previously, with Lucky Nine who secured the 2011 Hong Kong Classic Mile.
While Sky Field looks likely to tackle that HK$12 million contest, Fownes is less certain about going beyond that to the second and third legs of the three-race series.
“I’m not going to gut bust a horse for the sake of it,” he said. “With Lucky Nine, he was a superstar: he won the Classic Mile, ran second in the Classic Cup (1800m) and I could have gone on to the Derby (2000m) and he would have run in the first three but I backed off him and said ‘no, he’s done his job’,” said Fownes, who is now one short of his 900th Hong Kong win.
Meanwhile Champion jockey Zac Purton sealed a treble with victory aboard Mighty Giant (NZ) (Power) in the Class 2 Beijing Handicap (1400m), the galloper’s fourth win in succession.
“He’s a tough horse – he makes it hard for himself, he just likes to bowl along and he’s got one action but he loves to keep rolling and continue on with the gallop. He can run good sectionals and go on with it,” Purton said of the son of Power.
The Ricky Yiu-trained galloper hopped straight on the speed and from there, managed to hold his rivals at bay including the fast-finishing Not Usual Talent (NZ) (Zacinto).
“Zac (Purton) knows him really well, the big plus is that he was first-up this season, it was a good effort. What a horse!” Yiu said.
“He spent a good time in Conghua, about three to four months, and the colour of the horse went darker, some of the horses change colour, that’s very obvious. He’s still progressing, he’s still up-and-coming,” Yiu said of the 87-rater.
Purton kicked off his treble with victory aboard debutante Everyone’s Delight (NZ), a four-year-old son of El Roca, in section two of the Class 4 Chengdu Handicap (1200m), before scoring aboard Angel Of My Eyes (NZ), a son of Niagara, in the Class 4 Jinan Handicap (1400m).