Straight Arron confirms elite potential with Group 3 triumph

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Still uncertain of Straight Arron's absolute potential, has outlined an programme for the exciting young stayer after his tough Group 3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap (2400m) victory at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Taking on a string of seasoned, accomplished rivals on soft ground, Straight Arron (117lb) confirmed Fownes' high opinion with a neck victory over fellow four-year-old (115lb), with (116lb) a further length away in 2m 30.72s.

With three wins from his past four starts, Straight Arron overcame relative inexperience and maturity to provide Vincent Ho with a four-timer and left Fownes to ponder a possible Group 1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) tilt on 28 May.

“He's a good horse, his true rating is still not there but we'll see how he pulls up,” Fownes said. “We'll make an entry. I wouldn't think it's going to be too big a field, probably about six or seven runners, so we'll just see.

“He's done his job already and I'm looking forward to next season. What he's done in such a short period is pretty hard to do and history tells you that once you start to get up to these ratings, you can progress through and hopefully be a really nice horse.”

Cosseted away in midfield throughout, Straight Arron gradually improved to be in a striking position approaching the home turn before Ho drove the gelding between leader Beautyverse and Sword Point to gradually edge clear.

“That was good. He toughed it out. It was a hard effort for him, there was no pace and he just trucked up there nicely and all you can do is get a winning result,” Fownes said.

“Conditions were quite tough today, he's jumped from 1800m to 2400m – it's a big step up in a short period of time. We're proud of him, he's going the right way.

In downing Group 1 winners Russian Emperor and Panfield and Queen Mother Memorial Cup winners Butterfield and Senor Toba, Straight Arron continued a swift emergence Ho believes could propel the four-year-old to the highest levels next season.

“Straight Arron is a nice horse. It was a tough run but, with the light weight, it helped. He's a decent horse,” Ho said. “At the Internationals (Hong Kong International Races) next season, we can aim for some races – it will be fun.”

Ho continued an outstanding season with the quartet, also prevailing with Young Horizon, Master Of Fortune and All Is Good.

Revelling in sodden conditions following heavy rain, Young Horizon swept to a five-and-a-quarter length triumph in the Class 5 Celosia Handicap (1400m) for David Hayes before Ho struck again when Hong Kong International Sale graduate Master Of Fortune ground his way to victory in the Class 4 Hydrangea Handicap (1600m) for Pierre Ng.

All Is Good delivered the third leg of Ho's four-timer with success in the Class 4 Lotus Handicap (1400m) for Lui before Straight Arron gave Ho his 72nd win of the term.

made it three wins in a row with victory in the Class 2 Hong Kong Chiu Chow Chamber Of Commerce Centenary Cup Handicap (1200m) to give John Size and Zac Purton a double in tandem.

The Not A Single Doubt gelding earned a HK$1 million PP Bonus with the win, overhauling Winning Dreamer and Nervous Witness in 1:10.96 as Size and Purton slotted their 32nd win of the campaign together.

“For a Class 2, it was a very weak race, he's got a liking for a soft track and I was out in the better ground so things were in his favour – we had the speed on and that helped him relax and he did a good job and hopefully he can go on with it,” Purton said.

Size and Purton, who lead the Hong Kong trainers' and jockey championships respectively, earlier combined when ground his way to victory in the first section of Class 4 Dandelion Handicap (1200m).

Size landed a treble when Seizing The Moment stormed to success in the Class 3 Tulip Handicap (1400m) under Alexis Badel to give the 11-time Hong Kong Champion Trainer 59 wins for the season – 10 in front of (49).

Packing Hurricane made it two Sha Tin victories in eight days – in contrasting conditions – and also claimed a HK$1 million PP Bonus by winning the Class 3 Freesia Handicap (2000m) for Caspar Fownes.

Triumphant on 30 April under Joao Moreira on good ground, the Mondialiste gelding coped with today's yielding conditions under Harry Bentley to continue impressive progress.

A dual winner in as Shawnee Warrior when trained by David O'Meara, Packing Hurricane was unplaced in his first five Hong Kong starts but has since struck form with a vengeance.

“It's obviously very soft but the horses are going through it well, it's not holding or sticky ground,” Bentley said. “It just takes a horse that suits the conditions to act on it. He (Packing Hurricane) had a very light weight (120lb) and when the rain really came, I thought it would throw him in with bit more of a chance – I thought he would go on the ground, with the light weight as a big advantage, and it all went to plan.”

Chris So's Flying High slotted his fourth course and distance win this season with a dominant performance in the Class 3 Magnolia Handicap (1000m) as Matthew Chadwick snared a brace.

Francis Lui described Chancheng Glory as a “nice horse” after the American-bred newcomer's victory under Lyle Hewitson in the Carnation Plate (1000m) for Griffins.

From the first crop by emerging US sire Mor Spirit, winner of the Group 1 Met Mile (1600m, dirt) at Belmont Park, Chancheng Glory impressed Lui in his trackwork and trials before debuting successfully.

Super Highway has proved challenging for Frankie Lor but the gelding relished the going to finish powerfully and clinch the second section of the Class 4 Dandelion Handicap (1200m) for Matthew Chadwick.

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