By David Morgan
D B Pin tops the bill at Sha Tin’s all-weather card on Wednesday (5 April) night, and jockey Zac Purton is hopeful that the smart four-year-old will give affirmative answers to a couple of questions when he takes on 11 rivals in the Class 2 Chun Shek Handicap (1200m).
John Size’s pacey gelding is the highest-rated (97) horse engaged at the midweek meeting but he will be racing on dirt for the first time in his career; and then there’s the distance query - the bay’s four career wins have all been achieved at 1000m.
“The 1200 metres is obviously a bit of a test for him, as we’ve seen previously, but sometimes on the dirt they seem to be able to run for a little bit further than they can on the grass and we’re hoping that that’s the case,” Purton said.
D B Pin has nailed a first-two finish in each of his seven starts to date, but a brace of those defeats have been at 1200m, the most recent at Sha Tin two starts back. Since then, the Darci Brahma gelding has enhanced his short-track record with an impressive score over the minimum at Happy Valley.
And a smart 1050m barrier trial on the Sha Tin dirt last week gave Purton some confidence that the surface should not be too much of a concern. D B Pin travelled smoothly in a stalking second throughout that heat, closing off easily to within a nose of Timely Arrived, with another of Size’s exciting sprinters, Mr Stunning, a closing fourth.
“He always trials well on the dirt – he’s actually never done anything wrong, he’s always gone out there and given his best in whatever he’s done,” Purton said. And the rider is confident that the New Zealand-bred has more in the locker.
“I think, at 1000 metres, he’s going to keep climbing the ratings,” he said. “He’s a very good five-furlong horse; six furlongs is a test for him, but he gets his chance here to show us that he might be able to run it again. We’ll see, but he hasn't hit his ceiling yet, it’s just that when you get to this rating there aren’t many options out there. You’ve got to take a chance and run them where the programme allows.”
D B Pin will shoulder 133lb when he breaks from gate one at around 10.20pm on Wednesday night. At the opposite end of the handicap, Paul O’Sullivan will send out last start winner Harrier Jet (117lb), another dirt race debutant.
The Caspar Fownes-trained Blocker Dee (132lb) will attempt to nick a first win on the dirt, having placed fourth at his only previous attempt in December, while the veteran All You Wish (132lb) will make a belated dirt track bow. Tony Cruz will saddle the four-year-old Time Warp (115lb) under 5lb claimer Alvin Ng, seeking a first win at start five in Hong Kong but with winning form on the Fibresand in Britain.
Also in the line-up is a clutch of course and distance stalwarts: the John Moore-trained Pablosky (127lb), Hit The Bid (111lb including apprentice Dylan Mo’s 10lb allowance) from the Tony Millard yard, the Benno Yung-trained Perpetual Treasure (120lb) - the mount of Joao Moreira - and Fight Hero (128lb) from the Me Tsui stable.
Fight Hero heads into the race in search of a hat-trick-sealing win under Alex Lai. The six-year-old has landed three wins at the course and distance all told. The most recent of those, on 1 March, saw the Footstepsinthesand gelding power home to score by a length and a quarter from Eroico and Love Shock.
“He’s in good form and he’s a very honest competitor on the dirt – he’s never missed in his three runs here this season - always in the frame. He won well last time, it was very impressive, and I think he has a little bit left to give,” Tsui said.
“He was always naughty inside the gate but in his last few starts he’s been quieter so hopefully he’s just settling down as he gets older.”
Tsui will look for a divine win in the last, the Class 3 Lung Hang Handicap (1650m): Divine Boy (129lb), that is. The Street Cry gelding notched three wins last term when he also climbed to a career high seventh-place finish in the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) behind Chautauqua. Ten starts this term have failed to yield a win and the bay has slid from a rating of 95 to his current mark of 81.
His two starts on the dirt track, both this season, have produced fourth-place returns, latterly when running on from deep to pass the post a length and a half behind People’s Knight at the course and distance, with the re-opposing Friends Of Ka Ying (133lb) and Travel First second and third. The latter will shoulder 127lb thanks to apprentice Kei Chiong’s 5lb allowance.
“He can handle the dirt, he trials well on the surface, and he’s been fourth in both his races on it,” Tsui said of Divine Boy, drawn in gate three. “He’s come down from a peak of 95, which was too much – he’s coming down and he has a good chance now. He should be close to winning.”
Wednesday night’s Sha Tin action starts at 7.15pm with the Class 5 Sun Tin Wai Handicap (1200m). The concluding Lung Hang Handicap is due off at 10.55pm.
D B Pin lands a cozy win over 1000m at Happy Valley last start.
Fight Hero scores back-to-back wins over 1200m on dirt latest.