Hall hopes Beluga can strike in Group 3 Lion Rock Trophy

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In the throes of another productive season, David Hall hopes can deliver black type success for the stable when he contests the $3.9 million Group 3 (1600m) against a small but select band of rivals at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Pitted against last season's winner Beauty Joy (135lb), dual Group 3 winner Tourbillon Diamond (128lb), richly-talented (122lb) and seasoned foes (118lb) and (115lb), Beluga (117lb) will carry his lightest weight since winning with 113lb in Class 1 company at Sha Tin in February, 2023.

Hall, who has 32 wins and 74 minor placings from 394 starters so far this season, hopes the handicap conditions will allow Beluga, a seven-time winner in Hong Kong, to shine in Group 3 company.

“Being a handicap and as a genuine a horse as he is, off the light weight (117lb), I think he's always competitive and I'm looking forward to the race where, if he can get those circumstances where he gets a draw and he's on pace, to see how he measures up against the better horses with the weight allowances,” he said.

“He's had a great season. He's had two big, solid Class 1 wins and he's just a horse who's turned up every season for us. He's been a great horse for the stable and if he could pull off one more (win) before the end of the year, it would be pretty pleasing – he's a very consistent horse.”

Hall attributes Beluga's recent sixth and 11th placings to drawing barrier 14 on both occasions after the first five runs of the campaign yielded two wins, a second and two thirds.

“His last two runs, he's drawn those outside gates so he's had to go back and give away big starts but he's still run on very well and we all know from a good draw he can take up a good spot,” Hall said.

Beluga will jump from barrier five on Sunday for .

On the cusp of notching his 50th winner of the season, will saddle Cordyceps Six in an intriguing edition of the HK$3.9 million G3 Sha Tin Vase Handicap (1200m).

The winner of six of 20 starts for Richard Gibson, Cordyceps Six will make his debut for Lui after finishing third in a 1200m barrier trial on the dirt at Sha Tin on 23 May.

“He seems okay. He's had one barrier trial and he ran well at that trial, so I'm happy with him. I hope he can run well on Sunday,” Lui said.

To carry only 115lb, Cordyceps Six will face champion Hong Kong sprinter Lucky Sweynesse (135lb), Sight Success (125lb), (121lb), (115lb), Rewarding Together (115lb), Victor The Winner (115lb) and (115lb).

In what shapes as high-stakes tactical battle, Victor The Winner has drawn gate one with triple Group 1 winner Lucky Sweynesse in barrier three, Sight Success in gate eight, Courier Wonder in barrier five and Cordyceps Six in gate seven.

Master Eight has barrier two, Ima Single Man departs from gate four and Rewarding Together has barrier six.

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