Jamie Richards hopes Zac Purton’s tactical skill will be sufficient to offset Alacrity’s challenging draw in the Class 3 Tan Shan River Handicap (1800m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (2 April) as the Chilean Group 1 winner attempts to breakthrough in Hong Kong.
Bought as a BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) aspirant, Alacrity missed the 19 March Classic won by Voyage Bubble after failing to make the necessary progress to contest the race, but Richards is confident the talented galloper can gradually develop into a quality stayer.
“We were trying to get him (Alacrity) on a Derby path and things didn’t go our way, so we’ve just taken our time with him and we’ve been stepping up him up slowly in distance – 1400m, a mile (1600m) and now 1800m – and we’re looking forward to seeing how he goes on Sunday,” Richards said.
“We’re looking forward to the back half of the season with him and then next season, he’ll hopefully be a nice staying horse.”
Foremost among Sunday’s challenge against a couple of rivals with similarly impressive overseas form lines is how five-time Hong Kong champion jockey Purton conjures a winning path from barrier 14.
“He’s having no luck at all with barriers, it’s making it very difficult for us but I guess from the 1800m chute, he’s got a nice run down the back straight to find a spot,” Richards said.
“Zac usually likes to go forward a little bit, so hopefully we can find a spot midfield or a little bit better. We just need a little bit of luck, but the horse is going well, he’s trialled well here nicely but he’s got a bad gate with a big weight – he’s going to be at his best.”
Raced in Chile as Viejos Tiempos, the Lookin At Lucky gelding claimed the G1 Club Hipico de Santiago Falabella (2000m) before export to Hong Kong.
With a fourth and fifth under Karis Teetan – both from barrier 13 – at his only two Hong Kong starts, Alacrity has shaped nicely, but confronts two other well-credentialled gallopers at the weekend – Tony Cruz-trained La City Blanche and Danny Shum’s Romantic Charm.
La City Blanche won the G1 Gran Premio Jockey Club (2000m) in Argentina as Zodiacal before joining Cruz’s yard, subsequently running third at Happy Valley before finishing 10th in both the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) behind Voyage Bubble and in the same position behind Super Sunny Sing in the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).
Romantic Charm joined Shum’s stable from Mick Price & Michael Kent (junior) after landing the G2 Sandown Guineas (1600m) in 2021 as Blue Army. Since arriving in Hong Kong, he has been unplaced in his only two outings.
Karis Teetan will bid for a second win this season on Amazing Victory when Peter Ho’s consistent galloper contests the Class 2 Beas River Handicap (1600m).
With three wins and four placings from eight starts this season, Amazing Victory has advanced from 57 to 80 in the handicap.
“He’s been racing well throughout the whole of the season and he’s gradually getting better with each and every race, so I’m looking forward to riding him again,” Teetan said. “He’s drawn well again and if it’s a true-run race, he’s going to be very competitive.”
Jerry Chau hopes Easy Snip can provide Benno Yung with his 300th win in Hong Kong when the gelding contests the Class 4 Kam Tin River Handicap (1200m).
Having finished no closer than sixth in his first 10 Hong Kong starts, Easy Snip has subsequently strung together three consecutive seconds.
“He’s been unlucky, he’s a really tough horse and he’s improved a lot this season. This time, he has an outside barrier so we’ll just ride him a bit quiet and let him finish,” Chau said. “With blinkers on, he has shown more interest, so this time hopefully we’ll get more luck.”
Sunday’s (2 April) Sha Tin card kicks off with the Class 4 Kam Tin River Handicap (1200m) at 12.45pm (AEST 14:45).
– News from Hong Kong Jockey Club