By Graham Cunningham – HKJC
The colourful career of Mr Stunning has taken another dramatic twist with the news that champion jockey Zac Purton will replace Karis Teetan when Hong Kong’s highest rated sprinter contests the Group 2 Sprint Cup (1200m) at Sha Tin on 7 April.
Frankie Lor took control of the six-year-old when owner Maurice Koo moved him from John Size last summer and Mr Stunning duly gave his new handler and Teetan their first Hong Kong Group 1 successes when he won the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint for the second year running in December.
However, the son of Exceed And Excel was beaten a neck by former stablemate Beat The Clock in the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup in January and Lor, speaking after Mr Stunning eased home in front under Purton in a 1050m dirt trial this morning (Tuesday, 26 March), suggested the change in rider was prompted by a desire to keep the gelding in peak form for as long as possible.
“Mr Stunning was strong but different today,” he said. “You can see Zac has got soft hands and so he gets the horse more relaxed.”
“The owner talked to me about Mr Stunning being six already and next year he will be turned seven. He still thinks about if the horse can keep top form or not. Zac maybe gives the horse a chance to still have two big races for him, so that’s why he changed the jockeys.”
Already locked into master miler Beauty Generation and star stayer Exultant, Purton is now rider of choice for the highest rated horse in each of Hong Kong’s three main distance divisions and has realistic prospects of landing all three Group 1 contests on FWD Champions Day (28 April).
“We’ve still got a long way to go before then but I haven’t had a decent sprinter all season and it’s nice to finally get on one,” he said.
“Mr Stunning felt pretty good. He wasn’t under any pressure but he floated through the trial and is a very laid back customer.”