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Eastern Express ��going the right way�� into BMW Hong Kong Derby


Karis Teetan will pilot Eastern Express in Sunday’s (20 March) HK$18 million HKG1 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) at Sha Tin Racecourse and the Mauritian rider is delighted with the progress John Size’s rapid improver has made since making the frame in last month’s HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).

The bay debuted in April last year, running twice before the season’s end, and next stepped out in November for a breakthrough win. Two more wins and three placed returns have followed, including that last start dead-heat third in the level-weights Classic Cup when he defied a rating of 81 to finish within a neck of the 110-rated victor, Sun Jewellery. 

Eastern Express pleased Teetan in a 1200m all-weather barrier trial at Sha Tin last Friday (11 March), when the Fastnet Rock gelding ran home strongly for third. Sun Jewellery was two lengths ahead in second, while three more Derby contenders, Lucky Girl, Giovanni Canaletto and Green Dispatch finished behind.

“I was very happy with Friday’s trial,” said Teetan. “He’s the type of horse that doesn’t get along with the all-weather track, he doesn’t do well on it at all because he’s a big, leggy, galloping horse, so I was actually not expecting him to trial as well as he did. I was expecting him to just fall back and get himself nicely into a handy position, like he normally races. Into the straight he got into that big action of his and he really went through the line.

“The horse is feeling nice and fresh and I’m glad he’s going the right way still. Fitness-wise and mentally, he’s got so much stronger. He’s the type of horse that always tries his best, he’s a horse that if you can get into a handy position he will just keep galloping, he’ll just keep finding. I can see a lot of improvement going towards the Derby. I’m very happy with him.”

Eastern Express’ three wins have been achieved at 1200m, 1800m and the Derby distance of 2000m.

“The further you step him up in distance, the better he gets,” continued Teetan. “Some horses don't see a distance but with him he just keeps finding. The distance is not a problem, we just need some luck, see how other horses cope with the distance and we’ll be right there.

“He’s got that big heart that keeps trying but earlier in his career he won over shorter distances just because he had ability, and that meant he could win at those sprint distances. Now we’re getting to his right distance. Last time he met strong horses that looked like they were going to go past him and he fought back at them again. The more horses come to him he just keeps battling.”

This year’s BMW Hong Kong Derby promises to be the most open and exciting of recent times. The Size-trained Sun Jewellery is bidding to become the first horse to win all three four-year-old majors after narrow verdicts in the HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Mile and HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Cup. The John Moore-trained Werther was runner-up in those two races and will seek revenge on Sunday, while the Ricky Yiu-trained Blizzard was third in both contests, sharing that berth with Eastern Express in the Classic Cup.

Big-name European import Giovanni Canaletto, trained by Tony Cruz, was flying home to finish fifth in the Classic Cup last start and is the mount of Joao Moreira, while another such candidate is the Moore-trained Helene Paragon, the smart winner of a Class 2 at Sha Tin last time. Moore also has White Magic and Victory Magic.

Meanwhile, trainer Richard Gibson relies on Consort, G1-placed in England, who seemed to thrive in a recent turf barrier trial. Completing the field of 14 are the Cruz-trained King Genki and Green Dispatch, the Dennis Yip-trained Lucky Girl, Friends Of Ka Ying from the Benno Yung stable and the Chris So-trained Hero Look.

Eastern Express (No.5) wins his penultimate start, a 2000m Class 3 Handicap, under Karis Teetan.
Photo 1:
Eastern Express (No.5) wins his penultimate start, a 2000m Class 3 Handicap, under Karis Teetan.


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