HONG KONG - When Hong Kong racing returns to Sha Tin on Sunday, trainer David Hayes is banking on his Group 3-winning Super Wealthy to make it two victories in a row in the Class 1 HKSAR Chief Executive's Cup Handicap.
The first of 88 matches for the new season is headed by the usual HK$3.46 million (S$620,000) feature over 1,200m.
Sky Field, Lucky Sweynesse, Trillion Win, and Winning Dreamer are the participants in the competitive race.
Super Wealthy, a first-up winner last year, is back for Hayes following two trials at Conghua and Sha Tin as well as a minor operation at the end of May.
He is an excellent 1,200-meter Sha Tin horse. He's probably been a length off the best, but he's always competed well at the highest level, according to Hayes.
"On his jaw, there was a growth. We essentially took it off since it was more purely cosmetic and it drove me nuts.
Super Wealthy, by Epaulette, who improved his rating by 22 points last season, won the 2021 Group 3 National Day Cup Handicap (1,000m). He defeated Stronger, Lucky Patch, and Sky Field.
"With this race in mind, we took a step back from him last season. With competitors like Sky Field and a few others, it seems like it will be a good edition of the race.
Super Wealthy's first trial, which took place last Friday under Australian jockey Luke Currie, was deemed "fair" by Hayes. After all, the main goal was to let his charge unwind.
"He defeated Sky Field in the National Day Cup while carrying no weight, and since then, he has improved to (a rating of) 114, so the weight will definitely make things a little more difficult. He is without a doubt a proven upper-class horse, though, according to Hayes.
Hayes, who has won more than 500 races in Hong Kong, is prepared for the upcoming season with a young team. They contain the probable 2023 Four-Year-Old Classic Series contenders Straight Arron and Bon's A Pearla.
Four-year-old bay filly Bon's A Pearla arrived in Australia as a two-time champion. She won the 1,400-meter Group 2 Thousand Guineas Prelude at Caulfield in 2021.
She finished second behind the elegant Hitotsu in the Group 2 Australian Guineas (1,600 meters) in 2022 at Flemington.
She finished third behind Hitotsu, which was excellent. I'll be closely monitoring the form from those races in Australia. That's what grabbed my attention, Hayes added. - HKJC