Hong Kong’s Champion Sprinter Aerovelocity has had a season of deflation and elation and after the seven-year-old’s latest stroke of ill fortune, trainer Paul O’Sullivan is leaning on hope’s unpredictable crutch that his stable star will line up for Sunday’s G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) in something like peak shape.
“We’ve done the best we can under the conditions and I wouldn’t go back a month and do anything differently but his trial indicated to me that his fitness levels aren’t quite where I’d like them to be,” said the Kiwi handler.
Aerovelocity’s early season malaise has been well-documented, but after missing December’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint the brilliant and belligerent bay returned with a stunning victory in January’s HKG1 Centenary Sprint Cup at the course and distance.
That prompted connections to head to Japan in an attempt to win the G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen for a second time. Colic robbed Aerovelocity of the chance – his journey to Japan and the obligatory quarantine confinements had all been in vain.
Aerovelocity lands the HKG1 Centenary Sprint Cup in style with Zac Purton on board.
“It’s been an unusual preparation, with the colic and this and that,” said O’Sullivan. Aerovelocity strode out in a 1200m barrier trial at Sha Tin last Tuesday (19 April) under big-race pilot Zac Purton and while the triple G1 winner finished ahead of the pack in 1m 09.77s – finishing into a head-wind – he did not display all of his usual verve.
“To me, he didn’t trial as well as he did before he won his last start,” observed O’Sullivan. “He’s going to have to take a lot of benefit out of that trial to be anywhere near his best, so hopefully he has.
“There’s not much more I can do with him with the race being this Sunday – he’ll have a bit of fast work Thursday but it might be too little too late. There’s no use boring into him, so under the circumstances we’ve done the best we can and hopefully it’s enough.”
Sunday marks the first time that the Chairman’s Sprint Prize will be staged as an international G1 contest and the new fourth leg of the Global Sprint Challenge has drawn a field befitting its status.
Australia’s standout, the flying grey Chautauqua, is set to line-up alongside his multiple G1-winning compatriot Buffering, while G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Mongolian Saturday will represent the US.
Meanwhile, the rising stars Thewizardofoz and Lucky Bubbles will mount a strong home defence alongside established G1 campaigners such as Peniaphobia, Not Listenin’tome, Gold-Fun and Super Jockey.