Wishful Thinker adds further Australian flavour to Al Quoz Sprint

Brave Smash, Illustrious Lad and Viddora aren’t the only horses in Saturday night’s Group One Al Quoz Sprint (1200m) to have raced in Australia.

Wishful Thinker, formerly known as Katsuro, will line up for Hong Kong trainer Richard Gibson in the US$2 million sprint having crossed from the Mick Price yard in 2017.

The gelding didn’t exactly look a Group One sprinter in the making when finishing sixth in a Mornington maiden on debut, but there was far more to like about his second outing when he scored by almost two lengths at Ballarat.

The son of I Am Invincible was competitive without winning at his next three starts, before taking out a $100,000 Saturday race at Moonee Valley, defeating Benz and Liberty Song.

Katsuro’s second win at start number six was enough to attract the interest of Hong Kong buyers and it didn’t take him long to adapt to his new surroundings, winning at Sha Tin at just his second start as Wishful Thinker.

Three starts later, he took the prized scalp of high-class sprinter Hot King Prawn, who would go on to win his next four starts – two of those at Group Two level.

Wishful Thinker struck a purple patch of form at the back-end of last year, recording back-to-back wins at Happy Valley and Sha Tin, and the Gibson-trained sprinter has carried that through to 2019.

A strong closing win over California Fortune at Class 1 level was followed by a soft victory in the same grade at Sha Tin on March 10.

That win convinced Gibson to have a shot at the Al Quoz on World Cup night, set to be Wishful Thinker’s first taste of Group One racing.

“It’s exciting to have a horse at this age who is still on the up,” Gibson told David Morgan of the HKJC.

“He came from being a middle-of-the-road handicapper in Australia and he’s become a Group performer in Hong Kong, which is a credit.

“I’ve always wanted to run the horse 1200 metres straight, I think that’s his best trip, so we’re looking forward to the challenge of running against what looks a very good sprinter in Blue Point,” Gibson said.

Wishful Thinker will be piloted by his regular jockey Alexis Badel in the Al Quoz and currently sits on the fifth line of betting at $17, prior to the barrier draw.



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