Glo­ri­ous Fever, Time Warp con­tinue sib­ling ri­valry

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Mar­cus Hersh Fol­low Mar­cus Hersh on Twit­ter @DRFHersh

HONG KONG – We know how it can go be­tween broth­ers.

Cain flat-out killed Abel – so the bib­li­cal story goes – and 4-year-old Glo­ri­ous For­ever fig­u­ra­tively did the same to his 5-year-old full brother Time Warp last month in the BOCHK Jockey Club Cup.

In the Jockey Club, Glo­ri­ous For­ever hounded front-run­ning Time Warp into an early and mid­dle pace that left both horses gasp­ing in the Sha Tin home­stretch. The sib­lings meet again Sun­day in the Group 1, $3.58 mil­lion Hong Kong Cup, the nom­i­nal fea­ture on Sun­day’s Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Races pro­gram at Sha Tin, and fam­ily dy­nam­ics may de­ter­mine whether Time Warp be­comes the sec­ond re­peat Cup win­ner.

Time Warp faded to ninth last month in a closer-dom­i­nated af­fair af­ter be­ing taken on by Glo­ri­ous For­ever, but Time Warp knows noth­ing of racing be­yond go­ing to the front, and trainer Tony Cruz has made no se­cret this week of his in­ten­tion to let Time Warp do what he does. Glo­ri­ous For­ever can’t quite match Time Warp for raw speed and has shown more will­ing­ness to sit slightly off the pace. His con­nec­tions have sug­gested that un­der new jockey Sil­vestre de Sousa, Glo­ri­ous For­ever will be more pa­tiently rid­den Sun­day.

Jockey Zac Pur­ton put ev­ery­one to sleep rid­ing Time Warp from the front in a stronger Cup a year ago and, fac­ing just eight in a sub­stan­dard edi­tion of Hong Kong’s most im­por­tant race on Sun­day, Time Warp should have a rea­son­able chance of join­ing Cal­i­for­nia Mem­ory (2013, 2014) as this race’s only re­peat win­ner.

Werther, sec­ond in the 2017 Cup, had to be with­drawn from this year’s race Wed­nes­day be­cause of a lig­a­ment in­jury. That de­fec­tion ap­pears to leave two Ja­panese horses, the colt Sun­grazer and the filly Deirdre, as Time Warp’s main com­pe­ti­tion.

There re­mains the chance Time Warp, even given the right setup, isn’t the same horse he was a year ago, but he needed his first start this sea­son, which came over a 1,600-meter dis­tance that is short of his best, and when Glo­ri­ous For­ever got within a neck of him Nov. 4 in the Sa Sa Ladies Purse, he was get­ting 14 pounds from his big brother.

Sun­day’s race will be con­tested at level weights, though Deirdre gets a four­pound sex al­lowance. She might put it to good use, too, though as a one-run closer Deirdre could find her­self at Time Warp’s tac­ti­cal mercy. A Group 1 win­ner at home, Deirdre’s pre­vi­ous in­ter­na­tional ven­ture pro­duced a third-place fin­ish March 31 in the $6 mil­lion Dubai Turf. She’s only a 4-year-old and her most re­cent start yielded an eye­catch­ing win over sub­se­quent Group 1 win­ner Lys Gra­cieux, who starts here Sun­day in the Hong Kong Vase.

“She’s still an im­prov­ing filly,” said jockey Christophe Le­maire, who calls Deirdre his best hope among four Group 1 rides Sun­day. “She’s used to travel and she won bril­liantly last time in Tokyo.”

Sun­grazer has cam­paigned mainly as a miler, but stretched out to the Cup’s 2,000-meter dis­tance this fall to good ef­fect, fin­ish­ing sec­ond to top Ja­panese older horse Rey de Oro in the Oct. 26 Tenno Sho Au­tumn.

The oth­ers all have lengths to threaten the lead­ing con­tenders, and even if the broth­ers scrap again Sun­day it is Deirdre who is likely to ben­e­fit.

The Cup, race 8 of 10 with post time set for 3:30 a.m. East­ern, is the last and rich­est of the four Group 1’s that make up the Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Races. First post for the card is 11:25 East­ern Satur­day night, and a chance of show­ers on the day has dipped to 40 per­cent. Even if rain comes, the fast-drain­ing course will be no worse than “good.”

Nearly 100,000 race­go­ers will cram Sha Tin to see if Time Warp can land a sec­ond Cup – or fall vic­tim to an­other fam­ily feud.

Size sends four at Mr. Stun­ning

John Size, one of Hong Kong’s best train­ers and con­sid­ered es­pe­cially master­ful with sprint­ers, won the 2017 Hong Kong Sprint with Mr. Stun­ning. Now he is tasked with try­ing to beat his for­mer charge in Sun­day’s Group 1, $2.56 mil­lion fix­ture.

Size has the troops to do it. Even ab­sent Mr. Stun­ning, he has four run­ners for the 1,200-meter Sprint in Hot King Prawn, D B Pin, Beat the Clock, and Ivic­tory.

Mr. Stun­ning held on by a nar­row mar­gin over D B Pin in the 2017 Sprint, but fol­low­ing the 2017-2018 Hong Kong sea­son was moved into the sta­ble of for­mer Size as­sis­tant Frankie Lor. Mr. Stun­ning, a 6-year-old Aussie-bred geld­ing, fin­ished third and sec­ond in two Group 2’s this sea­son, with Lor try­ing to have his horse peak­ing on the big day.

“He’s def­i­nitely tak­ing a step for­ward,” jockey Karis Tee­tan said. “He was not even ready first up this sea­son.”

Mr. Stun­ning, the pos­si­ble fa­vorite over Hot King Prawn, hasn’t fin­ished worse than third in his last eight starts and is al­ways ready to throw down his con­sid­er­able Hong Kong speed.

“He’s a very brave horse,” said Size, his for­mer trainer. “He’s a hard horse to beat in a fight.”

It’s pos­si­ble Mr. Stun­ning won’t get close enough to Hot King Prawn to fight him. Hot King Prawn, just a 4-year-old, has won nine of 10 starts in Hong Kong. He’s dis­pelled the ear­lier no­tion he might be best over a straight-course 1,000 me­ters and has so far han­dled ev­ery rise in class. Sun­day marks his first try at the high­est level.’

“If a horse wins nine of 10 here, he still has to be im­prov­ing,” said Size, who down­played the neg­a­tive ef­fect of Hot King Prawn’s wide draw at post 12.

“He’s got speed and he can over­come most things with his nat­u­ral pace,” he said.

D B Pin came hard at Mr. Stun­ning to fin­ish sec­ond in the 2017 HK Sprint, but didn’t race be­tween Jan­uary and Nov. 18. He’ll im­prove on his per­for­mance that day, but could be a race away from his best.

Ivic­tory came into this Hong Kong sea­son as the lead­ing lo­cal sprinter, but with­out an ob­vi­ous ex­cuse has failed to come close to his best form in his last two starts.

Beat the Clock got started too late to make the 2017 HK Sprint, and as a one-run closer some­times starts his rally too late to get up in time. Ryan Moore picks up the mount Sun­day and fig­ures he’s on a live horse.

“The trainer’s a ge­nius,” he said. “When you ride one of his, you al­ways have a chance.”

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