By David Morgan – HKJC
Voyage Warrior’s win in the Class 4 Pine Tree Hill Handicap (1000m) was widely-anticipated but that did not diminish the palpable “wow”: The manner of the debutant’s four-length triumph was all that his connections had hoped for – perhaps a little more.
Jockey Karis Teetan – the beneficiary of De Sousa’s demotion, as the rider of Multimillion – found the lead easily from the rail-side gate 14 and the inexperienced Declaration Of War gelding relished the trail-blazing role. By the 500m point he had burnt off the harrying Great Fit; by the furlong pole he was clear and cruising towards what could have been a dozen-length margin; at the 100m, ears pricked as his supporters celebrated, the chestnut was eased down, his work done, the victory sealed.
“The horse showed a great turn-of-foot and he’s done nothing wrong so far. He’s a very exciting horse to progress,” trainer Ricky Yiu said after his charge had stopped the clock at 56.65s, with a final 400m split of 22.67s.
“They’ll give him a double-digit rise in rating so he’ll go into Class 3 now but if I keep running him over the thousand (metres) he will win a couple more, at least. He just needs to learn to settle – that will make him a better horse,” Yiu continued.
“He’s still green, he’s still learning. He was running around a little bit towards the last furlong and the jockey got a little bit excited and dropped his stick – but he didn’t need it anyway!”
The three-year-old debutant returned the 1.5 favourite on the back of two blitzing barrier trials in recent weeks. Those warm-up efforts gave Teetan confidence going into the Australian-bred galloper’s first assignment.
“He’s a nice little horse and we expected him to run well,” the Mauritian ace said.
“He’s been trialling a similar way so it wasn’t too surprising, and it wasn’t the strongest field today, but it’s good that he won and he still doesn’t know much about what is happening around him or what he should do. I think there is still a long way to go with him and a few things to fix but it was a good first step.”