Voyage Warrior (middle) wins the 2020 G2 Sprint Cup (1200m).
Hong Kong Jockey Club
By Declan Schuster
Hopeful of getting Voyage Warrior (120lb) to find another ‘gear’, trainer Ricky Yiu has applied the blinkers in a bid to unlock more from the chestnut’s reserves when he contests Friday’s (1 October) G3 National Day Cup Handicap (1000m) at Sha Tin.
“Hopefully the blinkers can put another ‘gear’ into him, one more gear, he’s never worn them, so this is the first time to sharpen him up and make him focus more,” Yiu said.
“We’ll go forward for the speed in this race,” he said. Adopting a hard and fast approach, Yiu is looking to keep things simple with an effective method that has previously proven successful for his charge down the straight.
“He carries a decent weight, he knows the game and he knows the straight course so we’re making it simple,” the handler said of the four-time course and distance winner.
The now 105-rater still holds the Class 3 1000m course record at Sha Tin, stopping the clock at 54.89s in April, 2019 at only his second start - three seasons ago - but Friday will be his first run down the straight since January, 2020.
The winner of three out of his first four starts, the speedster added two more wins to his haul in his second campaign, including the 2020 G2 Sprint Cup (1200m) but has been winless since then.
“Ruan Maia will ride him,” Yiu said. Maia drove Voyage Warrior to a solid fourth in April’s G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) behind Wellington, Computer Patch and Sky Field, respectively.
“He’s one of the exceptions for his sire, he has plenty of speed being by Declaration Of War,” Yiu said in reference to Declaration Of War’s record at stud, having sired winners of the G1 Melbourne Cup (3200m), G1 Queensland Oaks (2400m), G1 Victoria Derby (2500m) and G1 Belmont Derby (2000m).
“He’s done well at Conghua and this is a fairly good option for him to start with,” Yiu said.
The Australian-bred tuned up with a first-past-the-post effort at Conghua over 1000m in a barrier trial on the grass, finishing a nose ahead of Computer Patch (127lb), who he meets again this Friday.
Also in the race is Sky Field (133lb), Stronger (128lb), Lucky Patch (124lb), Wishful Thinker (120lb) and Super Wealthy (113lb).
Friday’s (1 October) 10-race fixture at Sha Tin kicks off at 1pm with the first section of the Class 4 Chengdu Handicap (1200m).