Glorious Fever, Time Warp continue sibling rivalry
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Werther, second in the 2017 Cup, had to be withdrawn from this year’s race Wednesday because of a ligament injury.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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