Trainer David Hayes will unveil smart four-year-old Conqueror (Fastnet Rock) at Sha Tin on Sunday, who is looking to lay out his BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) credentials in the Class 2 Bellflower Handicap (1400m).
The Fastnet Rock gelding was runner-up to subsequent two-time Group One winner Probabeel (NZ) (Savabeel) in the Listed Karaka Million Three-Year-Old Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie Racecourse in New Zealand, with that horse subsequently winning two Group Ones, the Surround Stakes (1400m) and Epsom Handicap (1600m) among her next eight starts, which included a Gr.1 W.S Cox Plate (2040m) berth.
“He (Conqueror) was a million dollar colt and he’s been gelded – his manners are a lot better now than in Australia and he finished second to Probabeel. That’s genuine Group One form on set weights so if he can bring that to Hong Kong then he will be more than competitive,” Hayes said.
The Curraghmore graduate was a two-time winner prior to arriving in Hong Kong, under the care of Hayes at his Lindsay Park operation, but he did finish runner-up at Group Two level in the Sandown Guineas (1600m), before finishing ninth to his now stablemate, Shadow Hero, in the Gr.1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) at his final run in Australia.
“I hope so [to being a Four-Year-Old Classic Series prospect], he’s rated 85 – I reckon the 1800 metres will be his trip,” Hayes said.
This season’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series kicks off on 24 January, 2021 with the first leg, the HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m), before the HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) on 21 February, 2021 the HK$24 million BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) on 21 March, 2021.
Hayes is no stranger to Derby success, winning the race in 2003 with the talented filly Elegant Fashion, one of two big-race wins for the handler across his first Hong Kong stint having also nabbed the 2002 Hong Kong Sprint with All Thrills Too, among 458 wins for the handler.
“I think he’ll need the run – he’s got a wide gate and I’d say with the tempo of racing in Hong Kong that he’ll be better suited to the mile, 1800m and 2000m,” Hayes said.
A $1 million yearling from the 2018 New Zealand Bloodstock draft of Curraghmore, Conqueror is by Fastnet Rock out of Group One winner Diademe (NZ) (Savabeel). - HKJC