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David Hayes harbours high hopes for unbeaten Fantastic Treasure

May 16, 2021 at 11:34:35 AM

David Hayes is hoping that Fantastic Treasure's last competitive appearance for the 2020/21 season results in a double reward in the Class 2 Crystal Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (16 May) – an extended unbeaten streak and the courage to chase ambitious goals next season.

Fantastic Treasure will be spelled following Sunday's race as Hayes considers a run in the lucrative 2022 Four-Year-Old Classic Series, which includes the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m), Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m), and culminates in the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m).

“He'll have a six-week break and then be ready in September,” Hayes said, naming Written Tycoon's son as the stable's strong leading contender for the three-race age-restricted series.

“He's my top seed. If he were running in Australia, he would undoubtedly be a young Group-race horse.”

Fantastic Treasure, who will be paired by Chad Schofield on Sunday, will bear 120lb – the lightest impost of his brief, mercurial career – after rising from Class 3 to Class 2 after an incremental ratings increase from 52 points to 87 with a pair of wins in both Classes 3 and 4.

Hayes is certain that his star charge will be able to compete with barrier 10 and more seasoned opposition to maintain his unblemished record.

“I'm hoping so; all signs point to it. He's consumed all of his feed and is in excellent condition, according to the dual Hong Kong champion handler. “He's a beautiful horse. He has a tricky gate, and (the) C+3 (course) can be difficult, but good horses prefer to clear obstacles.

“A direct run with a light weight will be preferable to being trapped on the inside. He's running into some tough, experienced horses. This would be a true challenge for him, so I'll leave it to Schofield to figure out the strategy.

With 24 wins this season, Hayes is on pace to meet his goal of building an army of youthful, aspiring future stars – from 2021/22 and beyond.

Master Montaro, who has won two of his five Hong Kong starts since returning from Australia, returns from barrier 10 in the Class 2 Amethyst Handicap (1000m).

“It's actually his first training, and this is the start of his second preparation, so we took him to Conghua – he had an easy time,” Hayes said. “1000 (metres) is probably on the short side for him, but rather than trialing, I thought let's do it for gold, and he has nice 1000 metres form from Australia” (a maiden win at Pakenham Racecourse, Victoria).

“I believe that not trialing is a plus. If I had trialed him up the straight last week, I'm sure he would have done really well, but it would have taken the sting out of him for the race.

“He looks pretty good, he's in perfect form, and he'll probably head right out to 1400 (metres) in three or four weeks.

“I'm pleased with what he's accomplished so far. His racing pattern of coming from the back is all about pace, because it's difficult to come from the back if the tempo is off.

“On the firm tracks in Hong Kong, they often keep going, but he has to put in massive efforts to succeed, and a lot of his victories were big efforts, so I'm pleased with him.”

Paul O'Sullivan plans to run August Moon in the Class 4 Ruby Handicap (1000m), hoping the New Zealand-bred will build on a third-place finish behind Ka Ying Spirit earlier this month.

“His first few runs were pretty much an experiment for him, so I think he can keep on (now),” O'Sullivan said. “In terms of fitness, he's pretty sweet. At this stage, he's well suited to sprinting down the straight.

“Normally, I will wait a week between races, but the 1000 (metres) came up this week.”

O'Sullivan believes Irish import Turquoise Alpha, who has 20 wins this season, will compete in the Class 3 Lapis Lazuli Handicap (1600m) under Derek Leung, who also partners August Moon.

“He has turned the corner and he has a much stronger fence, and the jump up to the mile would be appropriate,” O'Sullivan said of the Excelebration gelding. “He has a better draw (gate five), and the jump up to the mile would be very beneficial.”

The Class 5 Topaz Handicap kicks off the 10-race card at Sha Tin on Sunday (16 May) at 1pm (dirt, 1200m).

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