Blazing Speed enjoyed a breakthrough triumph in last season’s Stewards’ Cup (1600m) and trainer Tony Cruz’s versatile charge will attempt to lift his career to an even higher summit in the upcoming edition of the race on Sunday, 25 January.
The 2014 Stewards’ Cup was Blazing Speed’s first win at local Group 1 level - the bay has since added the HKG1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) to his haul - and on Sunday the six-year-old will target a breakthrough international G1 score, the contest having been promoted to that elite level for the first time this year.
Blazing Speed faces a tough task as he aims to become only the third horse after Electronic Unicorn (2002 & 2003) and Good Ba Ba (2008 & 2009) to win back-to-back renewals since the contest became a domestic G1 mile event back in 1991. The biggest obstacle to success is likely to be the 1300lb frame of Able Friend, the brilliant winner of last month’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile at the course and distance.
Able Friend heads the field of 10 entries that also includes Hong Kong Mile runner-up Gold-Fun, as well as two other previous Stewards’ Cup winners, Glorious Days (2013) and Ambitious Dragon (2012).
Fresh from Beauty Only’s HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Mile romp last Sunday, jockey Neil Callan will once again team up with Blazing Speed, on whom he has already won the G2 LONGINES Jockey Club Cup (2000m) this term. The Dylan Thomas gelding ran a below-par 12th of 12 in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) last start but had a valid excuse.
“He was a little bit disappointing in the Hong Kong Cup last time but he was proved to be lame after and I’m sure he’s over that now,” said Callan, who has been in the plate for Blazing Speed’s last six starts.
“I’ve seen him in the morning and he looks fantastic. I haven’t sat on him much but I’m sure Tony’s got him in rude health and I’m looking forward to riding him.”
Also among the entries are G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup runner-up Military Attack, Rewarding Hero, Beauty Flame, Real Specialist and All You Wish.
The race, which carries increased prize money this year of HK$10 million, is the first leg of the Hong Kong Triple Crown. Blazing Speed won two legs last year, missing out in the Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) in February before winning the Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) in May. All three races have been raised to international G1 status this year, opening them up to overseas entrants, and each carries a HK$10 million purse.
This year’s Triple Crown carries a bonus of HK$10 million, paid to the owner of any horse that can win all three races.