Premier Bowl gives Aerovelocity first shot at big guns
23 October 2014
Paul O’Sullivan has high hopes for Pins galloper Aerovelocity (122lbs) and Sunday’s (26 October) HKG2 Premier Bowl (Handicap) will give the trainer a sighter for the future, with a tilt at December’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint being his stable star’s prime target.
The 1200m contest provides an opportunity for O’Sullivan’s six-year-old to take aim at two of Hong Kong’s Group 1 heavyweights, the John Moore-trained pair of Sterling City (132lbs) and Able Friend (133lbs). The former won this contest last term and made his mark internationally with victory in the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen (1200m – Tapeta) in March, while the latter has emerged as a miler of prodigious talent.
“The top-weight, Able Friend, he will be very interesting – any good horse is capable of sprinting well fresh,” said O’Sullivan. “Being a handicap, if Aerovelocity’s going to be competitive in those better races, he’s got to be competitive in this – he won’t be getting 10lbs off them next time! It will be a hell of a good race.”
Aerovelocity won five of seven starts in 2013/2014, his second season in Hong Kong, rising from a rating of 71 to his current mark of 113. Victorious in the HKG3 Sha Tin Vase in May, Sunday’s race represents his biggest test yet.
“This race and the Jockey Club Sprint in November will tell us where we’re at,” said O’Sullivan. “In the past he’s always taken one race before he’s hit form but I’ve done more with him this time before a first-up race than I’ve done at other times, just because of the fact that it’s a good race and he’s got to pull his finger out if he’s going to be good enough for the International Races. He’s as forward as I can get him without giving him a race – there’s a little bit of improvement left in him.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do along the way; it’s just a matter of what level he can get to,” continued the Kiwi handler. “He’s a tough horse, mentally, he tries pretty hard. We may be going through a transition period with the sprinters here in Hong Kong. There’s no champion like Sacred Kingdom around – yes, Lucky Nine’s an old marvel, but he’s rising eight.”
Able Friend, the brilliant winner of the HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Mile last term, met a couple of Tartars subsequently when runner-up to Variety Club in the G1 Champions Mile, and to Designs On Rome in both the HKG1 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) and HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).
The field of 11 also features last season’s G2 BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Sprint winner Charles The Great (130lbs) and the smart Frederick Engels (125lbs), both from the Moore stable.
The David Hall-trained Bundle Of Joy (121lbs) won the HKG3 National Day Cup (1000m) last start to make it two from two for the season. Behind him in third that day was Super Jockey (111lbs), trained by Tony Millard who also fields Golden Harvest (119lbs), successful last start in a Class 1 at the course and distance. Smart Volatility (114lbs) from the Francis Lui stable was second in that Class 1 handicap and re-opposes.
The Dennis Yip-trained Go Baby Go (115lbs) and the Tony Cruz-trained Bullish Friend (118lbs) complete the line-up.
The race carries increased prize money of HK$3.875 million, up HK$375,000 on last year, as does the day’s other feature contest, the HKG2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy (1600m), which has attracted a stellar field that includes Designs On Rome, Ambitious Dragon, Military Attack, California Memory and Dominant.