Second in the HK$32 million Gr1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile last month, Voyage Bubble has taken another forward step as a five-year-old following setbacks and his shock 45/1 BMW Hong Kong Derby success last season for trainer Ricky Yiu.
“He’s doing really, really well. It seems as though he has never had a race. He’ll race in the Stewards’ Cup on the 21st of January,” Yiu said.
Voyage Bubble has five wins from 14 starts, twice prevailing over the mile. He beat home runners from Hong Kong, Japan, Ireland, France and Singapore in the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile, tenaciously posting a career-best run behind Golden Sixty.
“I expect there’ll be a lot more entries with Golden Sixty not running in the Stewards’ Cup. It’ll be a very interesting race for Voyage Bubble to see how he performs again, but he does keep improving – he is a magnificent horse,” Yiu said.
Beauty Eternal, Beauty Joy and Encountered – all defeated by Golden Sixty and Voyage Bubble in December – are likely to contest the Stewards’ Cup, just like California Spangle, who has been unplaced across his past three starts.
James McDonald has been booked to ride Voyage Bubble on 21 January.
Golden Sixty is an eight-time Group 1 winner over the mile in Hong Kong, suffering only two defeats over the distance across his career to Waikuku and California Spangle.
Looking to Happy Valley’s fixture on Thursday, Yiu saddles the three-time winning Excellent Fighter in the Class 3 Sea Eagle Handicap.
“He’s trialled a few times at Happy Valley and it’s about time I gave him a go. He’s been disappointing so far this season, but I think he will perform again,” Yiu said.
Excellent Fighter has returned this campaign to finish eleventh and third. He breaks from barrier seven tomorrow night with jockey Andrea Atzeni up.
A cracking Class 2 Albatross Handicap closes the midweek card, featuring Son Pak Fu, who aims for a hat-trick of wins with Jerry Chau for trainer Benno Yung.
“This season he has kept improving, which is a good sign for him. He’s in good form now and he’s always competitive, even in Class 2,” Yung said.
The HK$2.84 million dash also features Howdeepisyourlove, Nordic Dragon, Majestic Knight, Wonder Kit, Ima Single Man, among others.
Harry Bentley will make a return to race-riding tomorrow. The Brit has been booked for six rides, spearheaded by the in-form M Unicorn, a three-time winner this season who tackles Class 3 for the first time in the Nightjar Handicap.
Thursday’s eight-race fixture at Happy Valley commences at 13h10 with the second section of the Class 4 Lark Handicap.