Hong Kong racing moves from the regular Wednesday slot to Sha Tin on Thursday with the China National Day public holiday being celebrated throughout mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau.
Champion trainer Ricky Yiu’s stable stalwart Jolly Banner is looking to land a third Gr3 win for his handler in the National Day Cup Handicap ahead of what is likely to be the classy veteran’s sixth and final Hong Kong racing season.
“This will be one of his last few runs – probably by the end of the year we will try and send him back to Australia – he’s a nine-year-old, so we need to take it race-by-race,” Yiu said.
The Lonhro gelding has been nothing short of consistent across his career with HK$14.8 million to his name from 42 starts, featuring seven wins and 23 top three finishes, since his handler picked him out at the 2013 Australian Easter Yearling Sale for AU$300,000 (approx. HK$1.6 million).
“It was love at first sight!” Yiu said. “I rang up the client, who is the owner now, and straight away said we need to buy this horse – he’ll do well, I like him a lot, he’s a natural runner.”
The 109-rater’s last two wins have come at G3 level, firstly the 2019 Bauhinia Sprint Trophy Handicap (1000m) at 89/1 and latterly the Premier Cup Handicap (1400m) three starts ago in June, both times with Matthew Poon in the plate.
From three runs down the 1000m Sha Tin straight, the game galloper has finished no worse than fourth, with a second-place finish also to go with that stunning Bauhinia Sprint Trophy win, which came at his first try at the straight dash.
Both the gelding’s Pattern race successes have come against small fields – five and four opponents – and tomorrow he faces six others, breaking from gate six with Poon again holding the reins.
First race is off at 07h00 – click on the image below for more