Hong Kong Racing: Sky Field Readies For Group One Test

Caspar Fownes is banking on consistency and a bit of luck when Sky Field lines up in Sunday week’s Gr.1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).

“I’m sure he’ll give us a big run, he was a bit unlucky last start,” Fownes said.

“I think once we get to the ‘A’ Course with him that he’s definitely going to be a first-three chance on the big day.”

Stepping out for a barrier trial on Tuesday morning, the Deep Field gelding looked in fine fettle under Blake Shinn, pulling fiercely to clock a hard-held 1m 10.76s.

“It backfired a bit, I put the cups (blinkers) on him in the hope that he would come out and switch off but he wanted to do his own thing, although it doesn’t matter, he’s a very fit horse and he’s a very consistent horse,” Fownes said of the five-year-old.

A winner at Group Three level in last season’s Premier Cup Handicap (1400m), Sky Field also finished third in the Gr.1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) and Sha Tin Vase (1200m).

“No blinkers in the big race, he won’t have the blinkers on – he’s a fit horse and he’ll be running well,” Fownes said.

Sky Field boasts two placings this term, first-up he was a narrow second in the Gr.3 National Day Cup Handicap (1000m) before his last-start third to Lucky Patch in the Gr.2 BOCHK Jockey Club Sprint (1200m).

A regular presence at Conghua, Sky Field will remain at Sha Tin with Fownes until the race.

“He’s here at Sha Tin, we have 10 days left and we’re all here now, so it’s game on,” Fownes said.

Sky Field was purchased for $175,000 out of Trelawney Stud’s 2018 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 draft.

Meanwhile, Derek Leung quashed any stamina queries regarding Reliable Team as the New Zealand-bred gelding prepares for the HK$20 million Gr.1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m).

“There’s no doubt he can handle it, I think he can even go to 3000m – the 2400 is no problem for him,” Leung said.

The six-year-old rises to 2400m for the second time after finishing a close-up third to Butterfield in the Gr.3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap last season, however this time he does so for his first try at Group One level against a tidy group of overseas raiders.

“I think he’s a stayer and when he relaxes in the race I think he can get further – it depends on the pace in the race but if it’s suitable he should still run well,” Leung said of the seven-time winning son of Reliable Man.

Dictating a slow tempo to upstage his better credentialed rivals, Leung and Reliable Team staved off six others to record a make-all victory in the Gr.2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2000m) on 21 November.

“We were lucky, we controlled the pace and that’s how we won, I don’t mind if we’re able to do it again on the big day but it depends on the draw and the pace,” Leung said.

Reliable Team was purchased out of Phoenix Park’s 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale draft by Upper Bloodstock for $430,000.

– NZ Racing Desk

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