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'Improving' Dinozzo headed higher, says Purton


By Andrew Hawkins

Zac Purton believes that emerging galloper Dinozzo can progress through the grades and potentially push towards some better races, but the gelding must first deal with some smart Class 3 rivals in Wednesday night’s (30 November) Australian Turf Club Trophy Handicap (1800m) at Happy Valley.

John Size-trained Dinozzo (127lb) arrived in Hong Kong as the winner of his only start in Ireland, a two-year-old auction maiden at Navan last October when prepared by Ger Lyons. His first local preparation came to an end without the horse stepping out at the races after suffering a pelvic fracture during a barrier trial in April, but this time around has been comparatively smooth sailing for the three-year-old.

The son of Lilbourne Lad made his Hong Kong debut over 1650m at Happy Valley on 19 October with Purton aboard. He loomed up as a winning chance that night but struck minor trouble near the 150m and finished third in a Class 3 won by Wah May Baby. He returned to the Valley three weeks later and stepped up to 1800m, where he was the only galloper to make up significant ground for second in a race that was dominated on­-speed by apprentice Kei Chiong aboard Packing Dragon.

“His two runs have both been good,” Purton said at Sha Tin this morning (Tuesday, 29 November). “Obviously his first start, he struck a little bit of interference in the straight when I felt like he was going to be right in it. And then last time, the leader just got it soft and was able to pinch a break on us.

“But he’s done nothing wrong, both his runs have been solid. He’s an improving type that will get better as time goes on, but he’s fit and healthy and he goes to the races tomorrow night as a big chance. Still, as a three-year-old, he’s only going to improve, so maybe there might be better races for him down the road.”

Dinozzo meets a familiar rival in Danny Shum-trained Inventor (130lb), who finished second to Wah May Baby before a last-start third to Packing Dragon. Jockey Nash Rawiller, who has formed a strong partnership Inventor, believes the son of Australian Derby winner Don Eduardo is racing like a horse in need of further now, although he also says his honesty will take him a long way.

“He’s just a very consistent horse,” Rawiller said. “He won three in a row and then had a little bit of bad luck at his next run when running second. Just at the moment, he’s giving the indication he’s looking for even a little bit further to help him go to the next level. But even carrying the big weights over the 1650m and 1800m, he’s running well, he just needs a few things to fall his way for him to win.”

“The 1800m is no concern at all, he just couldn’t make up the ground needed last time out but there’s no problem there. He gives me the feeling that’s where his future lies.”

Inventor’s stablemate Sharp Sailor (125lb) was luckless last time out at Sha Tin, striking severe trouble in the concluding stages as he finished fifth behind another stable companion in Redwood Baby.

“He was extremely unlucky last time out, I’m sure everyone could see that,” jockey Neil Callan said. “With no interference, he probably could have won, and at the very least he would have been closer. The switch back to Happy Valley is a plus, he’s run well here before, and with luck on our side from barrier one I think he could give this a shake.”

A win in the Australian Turf Club Trophy Handicap would have special significance for jockey Sam Clipperton, who hails from Sydney and regularly rode at the four tracks managed by the club – Randwick, Rosehill, Canterbury and Warwick Farm – before his move to Hong Kong in August.

“It does feel a bit like my worlds are colliding here,” Clipperton said. “The Australian Turf Club was where it all began for me, while Hong Kong is now my home and hopefully where I will be for a while. Hopefully I can win this race, it would mean a lot.

Clipperton rides Lotus Strikes Back (123lb) for John Moore, and while he admits the horse is inconsistent, he believes the chestnut gelding can improve his chances if he can jump away quicker.

“Mr Moore gave the horse a jumpout, and hopefully that can help the horse to switch on,” he said. “The problem with this horse is he has no gate speed so he ends up a long way out of his ground. I’m hoping from gate three, I can get him to settle a little bit closer – not too close, but if I can get him midfield, then I think he has a shot.”

The Australian Turf Club Trophy Handicap, which also features in-form gallopers Victory Boys (118lb) and Royal Partner (116lb) is scheduled as the seventh race on Wednesday night and is set to jump at 10:15pm.

Whyte hunting for three straight on Ferraris veteran

In the night’s other feature, the Class 3 St Andrew’s Challenge Quaich Handicap (1200m), David Ferraris-trained Sharp Hunter will be aiming to make it three wins in a row, a remarkable feat given that until the start of October, the seven-year-old had only won one of 30 Hong Kong starts.

That sole win came in April 2014 in Class 3, but after more than two years in the wilderness, Sharp Hunter (119lb) has found his best form to record back-to-back wins down in Class 4.

Regular rider Douglas Whyte admits that the return to Class 3 is a concern for the son of Choisir but believes there are a number of factors which are different this time around.

“Back up in Class 3 is a query, of course,” he said. “But the horse is extremely fit and he returns to the grade at the top of his game. I’ve noticed a big improvement in him this season in the mornings, he is more relaxed and he is striding freely. If he’s going to do it, this race is as ready as he will ever be.”

The St Andrew’s Challenge Quaich Handicap is the sixth race and will jump at 9:45pm, with the first race at Happy Valley set for 7:15pm.

Dinozzo (red and black silks) finishes a creditable third in his Hong Kong debut at Happy Valley.
Photo 1:
Dinozzo (red and black silks) finishes a creditable third in his Hong Kong debut at Happy Valley.



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