By David Morgan
Hong Kong’s season still has a feel of the new term about it with only four meetings down but the opening weeks have already delivered plenty of excitement. So with the campaign brewing nicely it was time for a clutch of the local big boys to come out to play at Sha Tin’s barrier trials this morning, the first Group race tests being only a week and a half away.
Peniaphobia appeared to be sharp in his first trial since the summer break. Trainer Tony Cruz’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint victor will likely step out in the G3 National Day Cup Handicap (1000m) at Sha Tin on National Day, Saturday 1 October - a first step on the road to defending his title at December’s LONGINES Hong Kong International Races.
Matthew Chadwick is enjoying the partnership with current buzz horse Pakistan Star and the jockey is equally pleased to be cementing his association with Peniaphobia. The five-year-old showed good toe to track the pace-setting Rad and edged past that weakening galloper in the closing stages to pass the post first, a half-length ahead of the John Moore-trained Not Listenin’tome, a smooth traveller under Neil Callan.
“Peniaphobia went well,” he said. “He went fresh today, he jumped nicely and I’m happy with the way he finished. He should be better for that trial and the way he went today I think he’ll be okay for his first run.”
Not Listenin’tome won last year’s edition of the National Day Cup and Chadwick sees that rival as the big danger should they both make the line-up this time around.
“If the opposition is what I think it will be then I’d expect it to be between Peniaphobia and Not Listenin’tome. They’ll be carrying similar weights and I’d be happy to be on Peniaphobia,” said Chadwick, who made it two from seven aboard the son of Dandy Man with success in the HKG3 Sha Tin Vase (1200m) back in May.
Two more Cruz stable high-weights blew away the cobwebs this morning. The Kwok family’s duo of smart milers Beauty Flame and Beauty Only are likely starters in the G3 Celebration Cup Handicap (1400m) on National Day. Watched by owner Simon Kwok, Beauty Flame led from trap to line in a 1000m turf trial, in which the Richard Gibson-trained Giant Treasure, runner-up in last year’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile, moved sweetly under a hold for sixth.
A little later, Beauty Only stretched out in a 1200m all-weather trial on a track rated ‘wet slow’. Rainy conditions resulted in a number of scratchings from the trials, notably Aerovelocity from batch six with trainer Paul O’Sullivan opting to wait for a drier day. Beauty Only’s aversion to a wet surface has been documented in the past, and, that being the case, Zac Purton kept the five-year-old wide out of the kickback and let him box on home under his own steam for a seven-length fifth of seven.
“Beauty Only doesn’t like a good to yielding track on the turf, so with all the rain that was about this morning and the track in the condition it was, I was always expecting him to trial on the ordinary side and that’s what he did,” Purton said. “There was nothing flash about it - he did jump out well and travelled for the first part but he’s just not comfortable on that surface.”
Peniaphobia passes the post first under Matthew Chadwick at Tuesday��s Sha Tin barrier trials.
Beauty Flame makes all in a 1000m turf trial this morning.