Ricky Yiu heads to Sunday’s LONGINES Hong Kong International Races with a three-pronged assault across the four-race HK$95 million showcase spearheaded by Voyage Warrior (Declaration of War), who will look to secure his trainer a fourth Gr.1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) success.
Yiu is the most successful trainer in the Sprint with three wins, thanks to Fairy King Prawn (1999) and Sacred Kingdom (2007 and 2009) and this weekend Voyage Warrior will look to fulfill his prodigious potential with a win in the HK$22 million sprint.
The talented chestnut set the track alight with a four-length romp on debut and backed it up with two more wins, incurring a 40-point ratings rise across his first four runs.
Touted as one of Hong Kong’s rising stars in early 2019, his progress seemingly stalled with a poor start to his second campaign.
But in April at his sixth run last term, the Declaration Of War gelding snared the Gr.2 Sprint Cup (1200m) against a classy field at 23/1 moving a step closer to fulfilling the colossal expectations placed upon him as a youngster.
“I think he can [take the next step] – we have a good jockey – Karis Teetan is aboard him, he has won the Hong Kong Sprint before but we just need a good draw and in saying that we don’t want the ground to be too firm,” Yiu said.
Yiu, though, credits the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Conghua facility as a key tool in Voyage Warrior’s improvement.
“The feedback from Conghua has been really good – really good – my assistant trainer up there has been working him and he said he is going even better than last start and condition-wise he’s in top form,” Yiu said.
Bred by well-known racing identity Bob Emery, Voyage Warrior was purchased by bloodstock agent Robert Dawe for $55,000 from the Henley Park draft at the 2017 Select Sale at Karaka before being reoffered later that year at the Ready To Run Sale of two-year-olds where he was knocked down to the $280,000 bid of Ricky Yiu out of the JK Farm draft.
He is the younger half-brother to well-performed sprinter Speech Craft (Oratorio) who won seven of his 53 starts including the Listed Hallmark Stud Handicap (1200m) at Ellerslie.