By Andrew Hawkins
Jockey Nash Rawiller believes that Mongolian King has the ability to win a race soon in Class 3, but that luck is yet to fall the way of the Australian import. The gelding’s bad luck continued when he drew the outside gate for the Class 3 Jardine Handicap (1650m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (29 March), although the rider said there were positives to the wide berth as the galloper makes his city track debut.
“He’s a lovely horse and he’s just had nothing go right for him at his last few runs,” Rawiller said at Sha Tin trackwork on Tuesday morning (28 March). “I suppose from 12, we’re not going to find too much trouble early hopefully! I’m just hoping we can get that ounce of luck and he will be very hard to beat.
The son of Sufficient, previously named War Pig in Australia, arrived in Hong Kong as the winner of four of his six starts at country and provincial tracks surrounding Sydney. The highlight was a four and a quarter length victory in the Nowra Cup, an open handicap over 1600m, at his last start before he was imported.
Since his arrival, Mongolian King has produced four strong efforts without winning, all at Sha Tin. The best of these was a second to Mr Potential over 1400m three back with Oisin Murphy aboard, before Rawiller partnered the Me Tsui trainee to fifths behind Nothingilikemore over 1400m and dead-heaters Go Beauty Go and What Else But You over a mile.
“He’s been luckless so it’s hard to be too critical of him,” Rawiller said. “Where he’s at currently, though, he’s learning his craft so he doesn’t really help himself. He’s got good ability, he’s just a horse that needs a few things to go his way.”
Rawiller said the wide gate may force him to look at pushing towards the lead on the four-year-old, especially around the Happy Valley 1650m, which has a quick run to the first turn.
“It’s a C+3 track so Me and I will look at the race closely, we will work out what’s best for the horse and for his chances,” said the rider. “He’s got the gate speed to roll forward and depending on what the pace looks like, it might not be a bad option because it will allow him to get into his comfort zone, on the speed and out of trouble.”
Mongolian King meets 11 rivals, including Chris So-trained Roundabout, 2016 BMW Hong Kong Derby runner Hero Look, John Moore's Agree, and High Volatility, who has drawn the inside for Francis Lui.
The Jardine Handicap jumps as the seventh of eight races at 10:15pm.
Moreira hoping for more Cheer with Yiu’s Win
Rider Joao Moreira admitted he was still awestruck by a big weekend that saw him win the G1 Dubai Turf (1800m) on Vivlos as well as scoring a double at Sha Tin the following day, but his attention has quickly turned to Happy Valley’s meeting on Wednesday night, particularly to Cheer Win in the closer, the Class 3 East Point Handicap (1200m).
It will be Ricky Yiu-trained Cheer Win’s first attempt at Class 3, after a strong second to Jumbo Happiness at the top of Class 4 last time out pushed his rating up to 61. He drops from 133 pounds to 118 pounds, but Moreira believes the switch from gate 12 to barrier four is the most crucial difference.
“He drew very wide last time and I had to use quite a bit of him to get a position,” he said. “This time I’m going to be able to get where I was a bit quicker, without having to use too much of him. He’s a winning chance, that’s for sure.”
Moreira was aboard for the three-year-old’s only victory, in a restricted Class 4 over the Sha Tin straight 1000m in October. The Brazilian, who did not ride him again until his last start, says that the son of Showcasing has improved over the past six months.
“He’s got much more gate speed now than he did before with so much more racing experience,” he said. “It’s a good thing for Happy Valley, you need a fast horse to be able to get into a position quickly, especially when you are drawn wide. This time, everything will fall in his favour with the low draw.”
The East Point Handicap ends the eight-race card at 10:50pm, with the opener, the Class 5 Yee Wo Street Handicap (1650m), opening the meeting at 7:15pm.
Mongolian King (inside) finishes a creditable second behind Mr Potential over 1400m three starts back.
Joao Moreira steers Cheer Win to an impressive victory in a restricted Class 4 race earlier this season.