Sunday – A Raging Blizzard For Sha Tin

First due off @ 06h30 on Sunday

Zac Purton is optimistic Raging Blizzard’s uncomplicated racing manners can prove decisive when John Size’s progressive charge tackles the HK$2.84 million Class 2 Jinbao Street Handicap at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Flash-back – Raging Blizzard powers away at Happy Valley (Pic – HKJC)

Chasing a hat-trick of wins, Raging Blizzard returns to Sha Tin after successive 1200m victories at Happy Valley in Class 3 and will face seven rivals – stablemate Bundle Of Charm, Atullibigeal, Drombeg Banner, We Are Hero, Lucky Encounter, Supreme Lucky and Gorgeous Win.

With 1,701 Hong Kong wins to his credit, Purton has confidence in the Per Incanto four-year-old.

“He’s continued to improve and progress through his preparation this season, as a lot of John Size’s horses do and he’s just got himself into good spots. The cheek pieces went on, he’s a little bit more focused and ridden a little bit further back off the speed. That’s just allowed him to relax a little bit more and he’s been a bit stronger,” the Australian said.

“I’ll just ride him where he’s comfortable. He’s a no-nonsense horse, he just gets out there and does what he needs to do. He’s a nice horse to ride.”

Zac Purton has another strong book of rides as he closes in on 100 wins for the season (Pic – HKJC)

Purton will attempt to bolster his 30-win lead – 91 to 61 – over Karis Teetan in the 2023/24 Hong Kong jockeys’ championship when he partners Ka Ying Warrior in the Class 4 Dongzhimen Handicap for Dennis Yip.

Runner-up twice this season, the Written Tycoon gelding has been plagued with issues throughout his three-start career.

“He’s obviously had some problems, but he seems to be a bit better at the moment – his trial was nice – so we’ve just got to keep our fingers crossed on race day,” Purton said.

“We’re going to run him in a 1000m race where the speed is a little bit quicker and hopefully that allows him to relax in behind or to get into a better rhythm and see if it makes a difference.

“Obviously on race day (last start) he was a bit disappointing. He was trialling so well and we just expected him to go there and get the job done and he travelled up like he was going to win and just couldn’t finish it off.”

Reflecting on becoming only the second jockey after Douglas Whyte (1,813 winners) to ride 1,700 winners or more in Hong Kong, Purton said: “The mind is alright, the body is starting to let me down – it’s a day-to-day proposition, really, having to patch myself up between meetings to get back out there is quite tiring, really, but that’s the life of a sportsman. It’s the position I’m in.

“If we get there (Whyte’s record), we get there. If my body doesn’t allow me to, well so be it – I’ve had a good run of things here with a lot of success. Hopefully I’ve got a few more winners left in me.”

Frankie Lor has taken a conservative approach with Santorini (Pic – HKJC)

Frankie Lor is hopeful Santorini can develop into a quality galloper next season as the Irish three-year-old prepares to make his debut under Karis Teetan in the Wangfujing Plate for Griffins on Sunday.

“He had a foot problem but now it’s back to normal. He’s trialled three times and the last trial was good. I think he should be a nice horse for next season – 1000 metres might be a bit short. I think he should still run well this Sunday,” Lor said.

By Kodiac, Santorini finished fourth in a 1000m Sha Tin trial on 2 April behind Jamie Richards-trained La Forza, who will be ridden by Purton this weekend in the first Griffin race of the season

Teetan believes Great Spirit is poised to strike after drawing favourably in barrier four in the Class 4 Chaoyangmen Handicap.

“The draw (11) didn’t play to his hand last time when he got caught out and had to do it the hard way,” Teetan said. “He’s a horse who will appreciate the 1400m now. He’s an up-and-coming horse and I’m looking forward to ride him this Sunday. I think the draw will help him a lot and I will ride him where he’s comfortable.”

Sunday’s 11-race card at Sha Tin starts with the Wangfujing Flate for Griffins at 06h30.

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