Gibson has his trio primed for Sunday’s BMW Hong Kong Derby

AKEED MOFEED and GOLD-FUN announced Pan Sutong’s arrival as a big-time owner with their exploits in the 2013 Hong Kong Four-Year-Old Series. The pinnacle of that tri-race challenge was the former’s victory in the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) with the latter a creditable third. On Sunday (15 March), Pan and trainer Richard Gibson will again mount a twin assault on Sha Tin’s HK$18 million blue riband contest.

Gibson masterminded AKEED MOFEED’s Hong Kong career, which also featured a standout victory in the 2013 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup. But when that star of yesteryear hung up his racing plates to forge a career as a stallion at Pan’s Goldin Farms operation, the Englishman was tasked with unearthing another potential Derby ace or two. He came back with GIANT TREASURE and OBLITERATOR.

The grey GIANT TREASURE is perhaps the more burnished of those two rough diamonds who on Sunday will line up in a Derby that many seasoned commentators are calling the most open in recent Hong Kong history. The British import impressed in winning first up at Sha Tin back in December and has placed third in each of his three starts since, including in the first two legs of the Four-Year-Old Series, the Hong Kong Classic Mile, and, last month, in the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).

“We are delighted with how we have got the horse coming into the race,” said Gibson of the MIZZEN MAST gelding. “He has done well this year without really nailing it in the big races, but I don’t think we’ve quite got our tactics right in those big races and we are hoping to turn things around on Sunday.

“I think he is getting better with age, he is a big horse, a late maturing type and he has come on a bit since the races earlier in the year, and we know it is going to take a good horse to beat him on Sunday. He has peaked at the right time and it will take a very good horse to beat us. We are confident in his ability and we have obviously got to nail our tactics.”

OBLITERATOR, a different type altogether, has failed to make the frame in his three Hong Kong starts, but the ORATORIO gelding showed his potential when a solid sixth in the Classic Cup before running home wide from the tail to finish seventh behind Derby rival CONTENTMENT in a Class 2 over 1800m on 1 March.

“The horse ran very well last time,” said Gibson. “The race went wrong for us but you can’t blame the horse. He arrived very late into Hong Kong, so we would expect him to improve over this trip. He is a slow starter but he is a stamina horse, so (Christophe) Soumillon has got to try to get him out better than in his previous races because he will like the trip.”

But Gibson also has an interesting third card to play, GOT FLY. The French-bred could yet trump his Pan Sutong-owned stablemates. Ryan Moore is jetting in to partner the EARLY MARCH gelding, a Listed winner at the distance in Europe who has won two from four in Hong Kong. Last time out the bay was a fine half-length third to the re-opposing DYNAMISM, to whom he conceded 9lb.

“GOT FLY has had a fantastic year, he’s never put a step wrong,” said Gibson, who has intentionally avoided Group class contests up to this point. “He raced brilliantly last time, beaten by a short distance but carrying a lot of weight. We didn’t put him against the big boys because we wanted to save his best for the Derby. We know this is his trip, he is going to have a lot of fans on race day and with this draw (gate four) he has got to have a great chance.”



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