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Size’s Courier Wonder signals exciting future for Hong Kong’s sprint ranks

May 23, 2021 at 12:29:00 PM

Courier Wonder (118lb) is rapidly developing into one of Hong Kong's sharpest sprinters, and the three-year-old will look to clear the toughest challenge of his budding career this Sunday (23 May) at Sha Tin as he faces a host of experienced and better credentialed rivals in the G3 Sha Tin Vase Handicap (1200m).

The race's least seasoned athlete, the unbeaten youngster, has already been dubbed the "next wave" of Hong Kong's sprinting ranks, a mantle 11-time champion trainer John Size hopes he will occupy.

“He demonstrates it (to become a top sprinter in Hong Kong) because he has shot up the ratings quite quickly after four starts, and it's only a question of if he continues – I can't see any excuse why he wouldn't, and that's what we're looking for,” Size said.

His demise came after he jumped from Class 4 to Class 2 in four races, winning by a total of 11 and a quarter lengths.

The Sacred Falls gelding is now a 100-rater after starting his career last October on a target of 52, and he hopes to top off his maiden campaign with victory in the weekend's HK$3.5 million chase.

“You think more about horses the more they compete, and clearly he's heading in the right direction, so hopefully he'll be one of the stronger sprinters,” Size added, meaning that this will be his final race of the season.

The New Zealand-bred is a full brother to Icebath, who finished second in last month's G1 Doncaster Mile Handicap (1600m) at Randwick Racecourse.

“In a Class 2 race, he will bear a heavy weight, so I handicapped him – I hope he'll run well if he gets a chance to do his best.

“He got there a little too early, but we can't worry because that's what good horses do,” Size said.

Joao Moreira, the championship's top jockey, will ride for the fifth time this weekend against Computer Patch (132lb), Rattan (130lb), Sky Field (130lb), Stronger (130lb), Voyage Warrior (130lb), Wishful Thinker (130lb), Duke Wai (122lb), and Fat Turtle (121lb).

Size gave the Courier Wonder a dirt trial exactly one week ago, crossing first by an easing neck after settling second throughout.

“He trialed well, he kind of leapt and was a little bit eager since it had been three weeks since his last race because he didn't really rest, but he was also very manageable because Joao could do whatever he wanted for him.

“I didn't want him to have too good a trial, so he went to the line pretty quickly, and I guess it would be enough to get him to the races on Sunday and potentially do well,” Size said.

Size suggested that his charge, who is qualified for next season's Four-Year-Old Classic Series, will stick to sprinting unless otherwise indicated.

“I will only run him in 1200 metre races before he tells me otherwise, he looks like a sprinter with plenty of pace and strength, that's what he looks like and that's how he races – I wouldn't be too creative and fiddling around with lengths unless he wasn't competing over 1200 (metres),” he added.

Size has nine runners in the 11-race card, including Drops Of God in the Class 4 Makarpura Star Handicap (1200m).

“He took a while to put it together, but I'm pleased with him and I don't think we should do anything more, so we may as well go to the races,” the handler said.

The Mossman gelding takes the lead from gate seven, with Joao Moreira atop, against a field of 13 rivals.

“He's done enough to say he will compete at a high stage, the first day is still a little problematical, you never know what you're going to get or how the horse can behave on his first day out,” Size said.

The 52-rater makes his debut after seven trials after arrival in Hong Kong last October.

The Pakistan Star Plate (1200m) for Griffins kicks off Sunday's (23 May) 11-race program at 12.30pm.

Thanks to a partial victory last Sunday, a jackpot of over HK$21.5 million will be carried over to the Triple Trio for this Sunday's race meeting (16 May). The expected dividend for a single HK$10 winning unit could surpass HK$38 million, which would be the highest dividend for a Sha Tin day meeting since the 2016/17 racing season.

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