Champion’s Way’s (132lb) unbeaten streak goes on the line in the finale at Sha Tin on Saturday (18 May) as trainer John Size’s exciting rising star aims to become the 29th horse in Hong Kong’s professional era to win six races in a season.
That number features some of the all-time greats: Silent Witness, River Verdon, Ambitious Dragon, Able Friend and Beauty Generation.
Remarkably, Size has trained six of the “six-timers”, including Entrapment, who along with the Tony Millard-trained Ambitious Dragon went on to claim seven in a season. Beauty Generation’s recent saunter in the G1 Champions Mile took the current king of the scene to an all-time record eight in one term.
Whether or not Champion’s Way can reach the heights of the aforementioned will be determined in time but the three-year-old has certainly achieved his five wins to date in the style of a horse destined for a high level. His latest success was franked when runner-up Good Standing waltzed away with last weekend’s feature, the Class 1 Hong Kong Macau Trophy.
“You couldn’t help but be impressed, he’s won his five races quite handsomely and I think there’s more in him,” Size said this morning, Friday, 17 May.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the form; they can all gallop in Class 2, so if you can win one of those while you’re making progress it’s a pretty good sign.”
There wasn’t much that was handsome about Champion’s Way’s run through the first 1000 metres of his latest race – a wet track 1400m Class 2 in mid-April – as Joao Moreira scrubbed and nudged to maintain a position. But there was beauty indeed in his willing acceleration down the home straight, setting Good Standing four lengths off the turn and galloping by to a length and a quarter win – ears pricked at the line.
Size steps the son of Hinchinbrook to 1600m for the first time in the Class 2 Sports For All Handicap.
“It’s an interesting way to go; he didn’t travel very well at the 1400 last start so hopefully the mile is suitable for him,” he said.
“I thought it was the ground, I thought he might have been struggling on the wet track to travel properly but in the past he has shown us that he needs a bit of encouragement to get into his work. Maybe that’s not a bad thing so we’ll see how he progresses and gets a rise in class and longer distances.”
Hong Kong’s 10-time champion trainer is in pole position in the defence of his title, holding an eight-win lead over Frankie Lor and John Moore with 16 race meetings to go.
“I’m always looking over my shoulder: the competition gets tougher and tougher every season,” he said. “The number of wins or the lead can change very quickly so I’m just going to put my head down and keep trying to win a race and see if I remain in front.”
– News from Hong Kong Jockey Club