AEROVELOCITY shows tenacity to claim Premier Bowl success

Pins gelding Aerovelocity showed his trademark tenacity as he overcame a sloppy start and a top-class field of rivals to win the HKG2 Premier Bowl (Handicap) under the in-form Zac Purton at Sha Tin racecourse on Sunday.

Paul O’Sullivan’s charge has risen through the grades to put himself in the running for a spot in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint on 14 December, after seeing off the likes of G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Sterling City and the hugely-talented Able Friend.

“He’s proved he’s worthy to take his place in the international trial race next month and we’ll take it from there,” said the trainer of the New Zealand-bred gelding, the winner of six of his last seven starts. “We can relax on our laurels for four weeks before we have to come back. It would be nice to win one of those international races in December, but we’ll have to see how he goes next time.”

Aerovelocity (carrying 122lbs) uncharacteristically missed the break and was left to race back in the field as the 11 runners set out with 1200m of Sha Tin’s turf ahead of them.

“It was unusual,” said Purton “He was standing in the gates really well but he just curled himself up and went into a coil, so when the gates opened he just went up. I was lucky to stay on him.”

Purton settled his mount in the last trio as the Tony Millard-trained Super Jockey took them along, with the leader easing the tempo on the top turn before kicking for home in the straight. At that stage, with 400m to race, the contest looked to be Able Friend’s for the taking; the John Moore-trained chestnut was traveling powerfully under Nash Rawiller.

But top-weight of 133lbs and a lack of race fitness after a slight recent setback anchored Able Friend, as last season’s HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Mile victor flattened out in the closing stages. Not so Aerovelocity. The six-year-old, who had shown his wellbeing in a couple of barrier trials ahead of his first start of the campaign, enjoyed a trouble-free run down the inside rail to overhaul the game Super Jockey close home.

“The B+2 track generally favours horses back on the inside, and after I missed it I thought I’d just ride for luck and hopefully I’d get it, and I did. They all moved off nicely for me!” said a grinning Purton.

The winning margin was a short-head, with the Francis Lui-trained Smart Volatility running on to finish a further neck third and Able Firend another half-length away in fourth. The winning time was a shade inside standard at 1m 08.7s.

O’Sullivan will now target Aerovelocity at the BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Sprint on 23 November before targeting the HK$18.5 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint on 14 December, both over the course and distance.

“That was a good effort because they seemed to go pretty steady going across the top there, and the way this track’s riding today it’s a good effort to come from that far back. He had a pretty tough run today but he has a lot of those and he just bounces through them – that doesn’t worry him. I think he wins his races a lot on his tenacity, he’s a pretty brave horse,” said the trainer.

“That showed that Zac’s a gun jock, he showed the good sense, once he’d missed the start, not to rush the horse – Plan B. It gives us another dimension for upcoming races. He doesn’t have to be on-speed charging forward, and if we draw a wide gate now we can possibly ride for luck – ride for a bit of patience. He’s always been a very tractable horse, he never pulls in his races and he does everything right.

“I bought him as a yearling and then he qualified to come to Hong Kong and I couldn’t sell him,” added O’Sullivan. “There’ll be 25 guys sitting up there in the grandstand now that I tried to sell to. These owners came out of the blue.”

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