Voyage Warrior’s blazing debut win last month ranks as one of this season’s “wow’ moments and the speedy three-year-old will attempt to repeat that performance on Monday, 22 April at Sha Tin.
Trainer Ricky Yiu’s raw galloper spread-eagled his rivals, winning by an eased-down four lengths up the 1000m straight in a handy 56.65s, and while that was only a Class 4 contest, the manner of victory suggested a much greater talent.
But Yiu is not getting carried away ahead of the Australian-bred gelding’s step up to Class 3 in the Hong Kong Lions Cup Handicap (1000m), and neither is jockey Karis Teetan.
“You can see the quality he has but it’s still early to put a high mark on him. He looks like he might work his way to the top but it’s a long way to go,” the Mauritian rider said at Sha Tin this morning (Thursday, 18 April).
Yiu is no stranger to identifying and nurturing elite sprint talent. The high-class Blizzard, G1-winning speedster Amber Sky, and, of course, the world champion Sacred Kingdom all flourished at the Yiu academy.
“We have to take it one race at a time,” the trainer said. “Somebody already compared him to a horse like Sacred Kingdom but it’s still much too early to say that. He’s just moved up to Class 3 so anything could happen.”
The handler is nonetheless pleased with the son of Declaration Of War. He expects a big run at the Easter holiday fixture.
“He pulled up 100 percent after his first race,” he said. “He’s going to do well carrying a slightly lighter weight at a distance he’s shown he loves, so far. We’re happy with him, he’s making good progress and he should run another good race.
“He hasn’t put a step wrong; he’s a very handy type of horse. He’s easy to train – a natural.”
And Yiu does not believe his rising star is a pure straight track specialist: he has no concerns about Voyage Warrior proving his abilities around the turn in time.
“He’ll have no problem going 1200 metres, he might even go 1400,” he said. “When I bought him I looked at the pedigree and thought he’d be a sprinter-miler. So that was a good win over 1000 metres – he did it so easily.”
Teetan has no doubt that the youngster learned something from his debut despite the ease of success.
“He was looking around a little bit in his first race – not too bad – but it was good experience for him. He led and had to do everything by himself, so if he can do that, it’s a good sign already,” the rider said.
I think we all knew a bit about him, he’d trialled so well; when they go to the races after that you expect them to do well but he met our expectations. In fact, he won a little bit more easily than I thought he would.
“He’s a genuine horse, a very nice horse and I think there are a lot of good things to look forward to,” he added.
Voyage Warrior (119lb) will face 13 rivals including the John Moore-trained Sunny Boy (128lb). Injuries have meant that the Australian import lines up for his Hong Kong debut having not raced since finishing fourth in a Randwick G2 in February 2017, when named Eden Roc.