The calls for Rocket Man ($4) to take on Black Caviar died quickly after the Singapore star lowered it colours in the Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama in Japan two starts back.
The winner of 18 of his 23 starts can redeem in the A$1.8m Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin today but it won’t be easy, far from it.
Curren Chan ($8) won that race in Japan and the five-year-old mare is in this Sprint with a weight advantage.
Hong Kong based Aussie trainer John Size has Entrapment ($8) and Rich Unicorn ($26) in the race for the locals.
And Little Bridge ($5) and Lucky Nine ($.650) are also given chances.
Trainer Patrick Shaw says Rocket Man has weighed in at the right level for the Sprint.
“His weight when he won in Dubai was 472 kgs, he’s on 471 kgs now,”
“He was heavier, too heavy in fact, in Japan, but he’s very fit now, but then he’ll need to be from Gate 13.”
Entrapment won his first seven starts in Hong Kong before lameness caused him to miss 15 months of racing.
Size was patient and got him back to the track this season.
He won first-up before being beaten as an odds-on favourite in two lead-ups.
”Entrapment speaks for himself, he won his first seven starts in a very short space of time on both dirt and turf, so he is very versatile in that regard,” Size said.
”He came back and won first-up and then got to a high mark and levelled off.
“But he wasn’t discredited in his last two starts and hopefully he’s got another kick in him.”
Rich Unicorn, the handy second-stringer, won the Premier’s Bowl in October.
“Rich Unicorn is in fantastic health and in very good order,” Size said.
“That’s why he’s come strong in his last couple of races, he will go well.”
Curren Chan’s assistant trainer Shogo Yasuda is happy with the mare after initial concerns.
“After the long flight from Japan, I was worried how much her condition would recover,” Yasuda said.
“But she has moved into high gear, which was better than I expected.
“As for the race, it depends on the horses that we are against, but I just hope that she runs her race.”
The 2010 Melbourne Cup winning rider Gerald Mosse rides local hope Little Bridge.
“He’s very well,” Mosse said
“We gave him an open up on Thursday and the horse could not be better.
“I haven’t had a lot of experience with him but I think he’s improved a lot and our relationship is coming good at the right time.
“He’s got the good draw and anything is possible.
“He will run very well but it is a strong field.”
Another horse from Japan is the Ippo Sameshima-trained Pas de Trois ($31) .
“It is a long stretch course at Sha Tin, but my horse is tough and never gives up in the race,” Sameshima said.
“He should show his strength from the inside draw.”
Local Sacred Kingdom ($7.50) has a great record in the Sprint having won it in 2007 and 2009 before third last year.
“Sacred Kingdom is as good as I can get him,” said trainer Ricky Yiu about the eight-year-old.
“I’ve been really happy with these last two weeks of preparation and now it depends on how well he holds his condition.
“I’ve kept him fresh and we will find out if he’s as good as he was.
“The race is like last year with similar competitors.
“I’m a little bit disappointed with the widest draw and we will possibly drop him in anyway.”
John Moore and Darren Beadman team up with Admiration ($12) .
“Admiration is the new sprinting star in the stable and he still has a little way to go to reach his full potential,” Moore said.
“We will apply blinkers and we feel he will be able to hold his position and come with a sustained burst over the last 400m.”
“Don’t write him off.”
2011 HONG KONG SPRINT (1200m) – Sha Tin (5.40pm Aust est)
- No. Horse Wt. Jockey Draw Trainer Age/sex
- 1 ROCKET MAN 126 B Vorster 13 P B Shaw 6g
- 2 SACRED KINGDOM 126 Z Purton 14 P F Yiu 8 g
- 3 BATED BREATH 126 S Drowne 12 R Charlton 4 c
- 4 LUCKY NINE 126 B Prebble 6 C Fownes 4 g
- 5 SOCIETY ROCK 126 J Murtagh 2 J R Fanshawe 4 c
- 6 LITTLE BRIDGE 126 G Mosse 3 C S Shum 5 g
- 7 ENTRAPMENT 126 D Whyte 5 J Size 5 g
- 8 SOLE POWER 126 K Latham 8 E Lynam 4 g
- 9 GREEN BIRDIE 126 T Angland 4 C Fownes 8 g
- 10 ADMIRATION 126 D Beadman 10 J Moore 4 c
- 11 PAS DE TROIS 126 K Ando 1 I Sameshima 4 c
- 12 RICH UNICORN 126 M Du Plessis 9 J Size 5 g
- 13 JOY AND FUN 126 B Doyle 7 D Cruz 8 g
- 14 CURREN CHAN 122 K Ikezoe 11 T Yasuda 4f