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Size hopes Sun can rise to Classic Cup challenge


Sun Jewellery confirmed his position at the head of his generation with a smart victory in last month’s HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Mile, and on Sunday (21 February) John Size’s rising star will attempt to regain that subsequently lost status with success in the second of Hong Kong’s three four-year-old majors, the HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).

The weekend feature is a fascinating affair. For Sun Jewellery it is a case of new race, similar story. The Snitzel gelding (110) may have been surpassed in the four-year-old pecking order by the speedier Amazing Kids (112) and Thewizardofoz (111) but the chestnut remains the highest rated horse in Sunday’s race and, as was the case before the Classic Mile, he has stamina concerns to address.

Last time Sun Jewellery proved emphatically that 1600m was within his scope, but the Classic Cup’s 1800m remains a query. Only Floral Pegasus in 2007 has completed the Classic Mile/Classic Cup double.

“Distances are always a concern for horses that haven’t tried them before,” said Size. “Alternatively, they haven’t failed at the distance either. If the horse hasn’t proved or disproved that they can’t run over the trip then you may as well try.”

Sun Jewellery’s speed slanted breeding gives obvious cause for concern, the same concern that resulted in win odds of 9.2 for his Classic Mile triumph. So far, the Australian import has answered every question, compiling a record of five wins and a second placing from six Hong Kong starts.

“He hasn’t done anything wrong since he’s been here,” said Size. “He’s had a perfect introduction to Hong Kong racing and he’s never disappointed in any way. In the Classic Mile things went very well for him. He was the highest-rated horse going into that event and he deserved his chance.

“Ryan (Moore) rode the horse well - most of the good jockeys can do that, they can jump on a horse they’ve never seen before and get it done.”

Sun Jewellery held off the strong-closing Werther to win the first big test on the road to the HKG1 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) - which takes place at the end of March. That gelding and the talented third-place finisher, Blizzard, are set to re-oppose on Sunday.

“The horses that ran in the 1600m, that ran well, like Werther and Blizzard, they should be hard to beat,” observed Size.

A raft of talented and proven imports from Down Under and Europe are set to line up, such as Friends Of Ka Ying, Consort, Giovanni Canaletto, Green Dispatch, The Monarch, California Disegno, White Magic and McQueen. But among the most interesting is Sun Jewellery’s stablemate Eastern Express, a horse that has raced solely in Hong Kong and has risen through the ranks with three wins from seven starts, latterly a 2000m Class 3 handicap success on January 31.

That latest win took Eastern Express to a mark of 81 and the Fastnet Rock four-year-old, a half-brother to the likes of Satchem and Eye Of The Storm, will need a good showing on Sunday in order to lift his rating to a number befitting a genuine BMW Hong Kong Derby contender.

“Eastern Express is quite versatile,” said Size of the Irish-bred, who has scored at 1200m and 1800m as well this season. “He hasn’t run anywhere near the ratings that he should have to go into such an event but we’re keen to run him in the Derby and he’s already proven at 2000 metres - he’s won a race here and he won it quite handsomely.

“I think he’s got a lot of improvement to come, sadly he’s just a little bit immature and the race is coming up a little too soon for him but we’ll try and qualify him. It was always going to be a little bit that way because he’s a June foal. In saying that he’s acquitted himself quite well and at this point it hasn’t bothered him.”

Size is on the hunt for a fourth win in the Hong Kong Classic Cup. Hong Kong’s seven-time Champion Trainer has won the race previously with Thunder Fantasy (2015), It Has To Be You (2013) and Unique Jewellery (2009).


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