Yiu bubbling with confidence ahead of Derby winner’s return: ‘I can’t fault him’
Ricky Yiu Poon-fai believes Voyage Bubble can hit the ground running when the Hong Kong Derby hero makes his long-awaited return in the Group Two BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile on Sunday.
With a high-class quintet heading to post at Sha Tin, including California Spangle and Beauty Eternal, Yiu is confident Voyage Bubble will throw down the gauntlet to his race-fit rivals.
“He came back nicely. He’s had a good break, and he’s a horse that keeps improving,” Yiu said. “I can’t fault him. He’s such a lovely horse.”
After producing his dominant front-running display in January’s Hong Kong Classic Mile, Voyage Bubble was unable to repeat that feat in the Classic Cup (1,800m) the following month, when the Deep Field gelding weakened into sixth.
A change of tactics in the Derby (2,000m) saw Alexis Badel take Voyage Bubble back to last before timing his effort to perfection to salute aboard the $46 chance.
On his final start of last season, in April’s Group One Champions Mile, Voyage Bubble could not land a blow when finishing fourth to Golden Sixty. However, Yiu is optimistic after Voyage Bubble’s two promising recent barrier trials at Sha Tin.
“He’s still developing, but he’s a more relaxed horse,” Yiu said. “Mentally, he’s always ready. I’m looking forward to it.”
With Hugh Bowman on the sidelines after falling from the ill-fated Tuchel on Saturday’s programme, Matthew Chadwick hops aboard California Spangle for the first time since January 2022, when the pair were beaten half a length into second in the Classic Mile by Romantic Warrior.
Yiu, who saddles six runners on Sunday’s 11-race card, pitches Nimble Nimbus into black-type company for the first time in the Group Two BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2,000m).
After missing his intended engagement in the Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse (1,800m) earlier this month on veterinary advice, Nimble Nimbus will also have to tackle a step up in trip.
“According to his pedigree, he can go 1,800m or 2,000m with no problem,” Yiu said. “He’s a relaxed sort of horse, and he’ll get this trip without any worries.”
Among Nimble Nimbus’ rivals are the Pierre Ng-Pang chi-trained Glorious Dragon, who has been absent from the track since his international assignment at the Dubai World Cup meeting.
The son of Teofilo finished 12th of 14 in the Group One Dubai Turf (1,800m) before missing the Champions Mile due to lameness.
“He’s been through a lot. Injuries, X-rays, anything you can imagine. We’ve managed to get him sound, and he’s had three trials. He’s been doing really well.” Ng said. “If he runs a nice race, we can send him to a Group One over 2,000m. If not, we can send him to the [Group Three] January Cup [1,800m].”
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Ng heads to Sha Tin seven wins clear at the top of the trainers’ championship, and the second-season handler has Duke Wai and Super Wealthy representing his stable in the Group Two BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1,200m).
“Duke Wai is brilliant, and he trialled really well last week. Given it’ll be his third run this season, he still looks very well,” Ng said. “Super Wealthy is also doing well. He had problems six months ago, and we’ve given him time. He’s had three trials now, and we’re looking for a good run.”
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