Four Year Olds Are Preparing For The Group 1 Races In Hong Kong

With the internationals now behind us, Hong Kong turns towards the domestic Group One scene that begins next month and the four-year-old events which culminate in the Derby in March.

The Classic Mile is the first on January 20, so the next month will be filled with four-year-olds appearing on the scene anew or those hoping to lift their current ratings with hopes of making the Group Ones.

On Sunday at Sha Tin, two horses looking towards the classics will take beating, John Size-trained Happy Era and Tony Millard-trained Jolly Victor.

Happy Era, a Northern Hemisphere-bred gelding by Iffraaj is virtually assured of running in the classic races, with his rating already 88 after three wins from his three appearances and another win would guarantee his place.

He has been tradesmanlike winning over the Sha Tin 1,400m at his last two outings in Class Three and returns there with conditions on his side in a set weights race open only to three-year-olds. It is one of only a few races for the age group, and Happy Era sneaks in just two weeks short of his fourth birthday.

Jolly Victor, on the other hand, has plenty to do from his handicap rating of 63 to make it to the Classic Mile but the son of Zabeel has shown enough in four starts to think his owners can dream, especially since returning this season.

The gelding was a big winner in average company, coming from last in Class Four over 1,400m, at the end of October then looked unlucky behind another rising four-year-old, Garlic Boy, over 1,600m.

South African jockey, Richard Fourie lost his position at a crucial part of the race then charged home for third to Garlic Boy but arguably should have beaten him.

Fourie has been replaced this weekend by Zac Purton, who has struck up a strong link with the stable via Horse Of The Year, Ambitious Dragon.

By Nathan Mody

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