Attempting to extend a bountiful start to 2023, Hugh Bowman is optimistic Benno Yung`s Forerunner can continue the Australian`s strong recent run with success in the Class 4 Cineraria Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin on Saturday (21 January).
Bowman has tallied six wins in as many January meetings to have 15 victories overall for the season and believes French-bred Forerunner is primed to provide more success after a handsome debut performance at Sha Tin on 24 December.
“I was impressed. He gave me a good feel. He`s a horse who still lacks a little bit of physical strength, so there`s good improvement in him. He`s a very sensible horse and he did everything beautifully last start,” Bowman said of the Almanzor gelding.
“He had a good draw (barrier nine), which he has the advantage of again (gate four), so there`s no reason why he can`t come out – win, lose or draw – and go better than he did first-up.”
A Hong Kong International Sale graduate and rated 59, Forerunner has plenty of scope for further development, according to Bowman.
“He`s a horse that`s got a few gears and I would suggest he`s got a few ratings points up his sleeve so you would like to think that he would improve on what he did last start – it`s all upside for him – and with the advantage of a good draw, he should run well again,” he said.
“I thought it was a dominant win and I thought he a bit up his sleeve. I think 1400 metres is a good distance range for him in Hong Kong and it opens up a lot of options for him later. I can see him being very effective over a mile and even further later on.”
With seven rides tomorrow, including Five G Patch for Tony Cruz, Bowman will bid to further enhance his record as Frankie Lor hopes an increase in distance will assist Beauty Live in the Class 2 Lily Handicap (1600m) under Zac Purton.
“Last time, over 1400 metres, he came from nearly second last – and strongly – so I think he needs 1600 metres. He ran last Sunday, but he looks well and I think 1600 metres is his best distance,” said Lor, who leads the trainers` championship with 29 wins. “I hope he can go up to another level.”
Lor is also represented in the same race by All For St Paul`s, who will be ridden by Matthew Poon.
“He is very honest, he will try to lead and I hope he can run well again,” Lor said.
Ricky Yiu hopes Excellent Fighter, who won on debut on 18 December under Jye McNeil, can maintain his unbeaten record in the Class 4 Rose Handicap (1000m) under Silvestre de Sousa.
“It was expected that he would run well and even with bit of interference, he still managed to win. It was a good effort from the horse. He`s still kept improving since the run,” the 2019/20 Hong Kong champion trainer said. “He should run well again. To me, over 1000 metres, to draw barrier 11 is good.”
Keen to add to the 30 winners he has already slotted this term, de Sousa teams with Jamie Richards-trained Magniac in the Class 3 Peony Handicap (1200m) in Saturday`s finale, which also features Beauty Eternal for John Size and Zac Purton.
Winner of three consecutive two-year-old contests in Perth last year, Magniac has finished a conservative third behind Outgate in a 1200m trial on Sha Tin`s dirt on 10 January.
“He`s a nice type of horse,” Richards said. “He came out of Perth and he`s had four trials and he`s trialled up well and we`re happy with his progress. He`s still only a three-year-old, which is difficult when you`re kicking off like this in Class 3 as a PP, but he`s got a good draw (barrier 1) and Silvestre is going to ride him, so he`s got a few things in his favour.
“It`s a starting point – obviously PPs don`t have a great record first-up – it`s a pretty hot field and it`s going to be pretty hard to beat Beauty Eternal, but I think he`ll run a nice race and the more he does, the more he`ll improve.”
Lucky Sweynesse limbered up for his G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) assignment with a victory in a 1200m trial at Sha Tin this morning, clocking 1m 10.47s to defeat last-start winner Drombeg Banner and Sweet Encounter, with top stayer Panfield a closing fourth.
“I thought it was a good trial, he just continues to improve. Every piece of work, he`s getting stronger, he`s enjoying himself – he`s in a really good frame of mind at the moment,” Purton said.
“He got the start right today, which obviously helped him and he travelled around really nicely.”
Beyond the Centenary Sprint Cup, Manfred Man`s star could possibly tackle the G1 Queen`s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) or travel to Dubai for the World Cup meeting.
Saturday`s (21 January) card kicks off with the Class 2 Daffodil Handicap (1200m, dirt) at 12.15pm.