Pierre Ng hopes Mugen can excel at 1600m

Mugen is chasing his fourth win of the season.
Mugen is chasing his fourth win of the season.

A week after almost executing an unconventional win in the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) with Galaxy Patch, Pierre Ng will test Mugen at an unfamiliar distance when the talented sprinter contests the Class 3 United Alumni Handicap (1600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (31 March).

The winner of three races this season – two at 1200m and the other at 1400m – Mugen (131lb) stretches to 1600m for the first time as he faces The Golden Scenery (135lb), All For St Paul’s (133lb), Running Glory (133lb), Flaming Rabbit (126lb), Rising From Ashes (120lb) and Superb Boy (120lb).

To be ridden for the first time by Hugh Bowman, Mugen drops in grade after his neck second to Red Lion in the Class 1 Chinese New Year Cup Handicap (1400m) on 12 February.

“Connections wanted to try him over a further distance and see how he stays, so hopefully with the hands of Bowman, he can settle well and have a good run,” said Ng, who saddled the BMW Hong Kong Derby runner-up Galaxy Patch and third place-getter Ka Ying Generation last Sunday (24 March).

“Running over 1600m is a trial for him (Mugen). He handled the 1400m well. so hopefully he can switch off in the early part of the race and wait for the last 400 metres.

“We’ll test him out over the mile and if it doesn’t work, we can always drop him back. We just have to wait and see how he goes this weekend and then hopefully we can look to some Group races later on.”

Pierre Ng leads the Hong Kong trainers’ championship with 53 wins.
Pierre Ng leads the Hong Kong trainers’ championship with 53 wins.

Galaxy Patch almost delivered an incredible Derby win for Ng, jumping from 1000m to 1400m and then to 2000m of the Classic in the space of three runs, eventually failing by a neck to catch Massive Sovereign in the fastest Derby ever run over 2000m.

Lyle Hewitson hopes Flaming Rabbit can foil Ng and Bowman’s hopes with Mugen by reproducing his best form at the weekend for Douglas Whyte.

“He’s a lovely horse – he’s probably just been below his best form of recent times but they always bounce back. His class is permanent so hopefully he can show his ability again because he is a class horse,” Hewitson said.

“I was really looking forward to what he could do this season and there was a slight setback that played a role in that and now, with a couple of runs under his belt, hopefully he’s getting stronger and getting better and back to that form.”

Zac Purton has ridden 85 winners so far this season.
Zac Purton has ridden 85 winners so far this season.

Zac Purton hopes Gorgeous Win can make it three wins in a row when Danny Shum’s charge contests the Class 3 Morningside And S.H. Ho Alumni Handicap (1200m).

“He’s an exciting horse, he’s got a good record,” Purton said of the Press Statement three-year-old who has three wins and two minor placings from five starts in Hong Kong, rising 28 points in the handicap to 80.

“If anything – I’ve said it before – he just wants to overdo things a little bit, so I think he’s still learning the process, but what he’s done has been impressive. He’s a nice horse.

“From the first trial he had here in Hong Kong, he showed he had something. He’s always turned up on race day and delivered. He’s done what Danny hoped he was going to do. Hopefully, it’s not over yet.”

Sunday’s (31 March) 10-race card at Sha Tin starts with the Class 5 New Asia Alumni Handicap (1400m) at 12.45pm.

By Daryl Timms. HKJC

Author: iRace