Trainer Paul O’Sullivan has no plans of retiring Aerovelocity after the veteran sprinter won his second Group 1 HK$18.5m Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin on Longines Hong Kong International Race Day on Sunday.
Hong Kong based Australian jockey Zac Purton was aboard Aerovelocity ($9) for his 2014 Hong Kong Sprint win and rode another perfect race to steer the eight year old to a short head win over the fast finishing Lucky Bubbles ($2.80 favourite) under the hard riding of Brett Prebble.
Last year’s winner Peniaphobia ($11) held on for third after setting the pace while Takedown ($11) in sixth position was the first of the two Australian sprinters to cross the line with Rebel Dane ($31) fading in the straight to finish eleventh.
O’Sullivan had to nurse Aerovelocity through many issues over his illustrious career but and while it was a slight surprise to see him win his second Hong Kong Sprint, the Hong Kong based Kiwi trainer has no thoughts of retiring his stable star.
“I certainly expected him to be competitive, it was just a matter of whether time had caught up with him,” O’Sullivan said.
“He’d had probably the best preparation that he’d had going into an international, but he had indicated that he was getting a little bit older – he was taking a little bit longer to come to hand. I thought he’d get some prize money for sure, but to win it is just fantastic.
“He’s had plenty of issues. He had a heart irregularity, he had a significant amount of blood in his trachea on that day, he travelled to Japan last season and got colic.”
“But I said to Daniel (Yeung, owner) before the race today, I can’t get him any better than this. I think he’s peaked on the day, it’s just a matter of whether he’s still got it in him.”
O’Sullivan is now planning a return trip to Japan to try to win another Group 1 JPY¥185,900,000 The Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1200m) at Chukyo after winning the Japan sprint in 2015 and is also thinking of tackling the Hong Kong Sprint again next year.
“He’ll go through the motions now,” O’Sullivan said.
“Centenary Sprint Cup next, and maybe he’ll go back to Japan, try for two Takamatsunomiya Kinens now. I don’t think he’ll go to Dubai. The Japanese, as wonderful as their horses are, their sprinters are their Achilles heel.”
Purton was full of praise for Aerovelocity after the eight year old recorded his fifth Group 1 victory on Sunday, rating it as the best of his twelve victories from his twenty-four race starts.
“Out of all his wins, I think this is the most satisfying one because we’ve had some troubles with him,” Purton said.
“He has had some problems, he’s older now and Paul had to pull everything out of his trick bag to get him in the condition he is today. I’m just the lucky one to be piloting him.
“It’s a good feeling because we were of the opinion that we were starting to lose him. And we know he’s a warrior and he gives everything he’s got and although he didn’t perform at his best today, his heart is so big that he was able to give us that effort.”
“Paul fine-tuned him and dropped the extra little pounds that he was carrying and got him as best as he could for today so he’s done a great job.”