Former Queenslander Ping Hai Star scored his second consecutive victory at Sha Tin yesterday, again finding trouble before again bursting clear to justify the short quote. The John Size trained gelding has now taken his record to 3 wins and 3 places from 7 starts, with the 4-year-old previously known as Ted earmarking himself as a future Derby horse.
Ping Hai Star put in an early nomination for win of the year last time out, scoring a victory from a seemingly impossible position. Finding trouble again, jockey Joao Moreira said there were a few nervous moments during the run.
“I was surprised the pace slowed down that much and he got his head up, which he can do, but in the straight I had to bide my time and wait for a run,” he said.
“It would have had his owners worried, I suppose, but when a run came, I was still confident. When he gets room, this horse has such a big stride and covers so much ground, he gives you that confidence. Normally, a horse with that kind of stride should run some distance but I respect John’s opinion that the horse is just not settling well enough.”
Continuing the trend of potential superstars with bad manners in Hong Kong, the 4-year-old may be a while off acceptance in a derby race just yet, with trainer John Size conceding he has been inconsistent in each run so far.
“He’s got potential but he’s hard to plot in a race just yet because he hasn’t done the same thing twice and we’re still finding out what suits him,” he said. “When there’s a slow section in his races, he resents it. It will probably resolve itself in time but it looks at this stage like he isn’t ready to do it yet so asking him to run a distance might be a problem.”
Contrary to the promising performances by Ping Hai Star as of late, fellow Australian Ruthven is yet to place overseas, finshing 6th of 7 in yesterday’s 1800m group 3 centenary vase. Getting out to 1800 for the first time this prep was supposedly a massive plus for the Queensland Derby winner however could only manage a second last placing behind Dinozzo, Gold Mount and Eagle Way.
Giving the impression he is out of sorts of late, usual front-runner Ruthven sat 4th for the journey before fading in the final stages, finishing a long way off the eventual winner. Interestingly enough though, Ruthven has been placed 4 out of 5 races over the 2000m distance, winning only at Bendigo and Geelong under the mile in maiden and benchmark 64 company respectively.
Ruthven is still a hopeful for the BMW Hong Kong Derby however must find some ground before the 2000m race on the 18th of March.