Is Yip’s Cup charge Hong Kong’s Secret Weapon this year?
Twelve months ago, Secret Weapon led home a futile chasing brigade behind the all-conquering Maurice in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m), finishing three lengths adrift of the Japanese champion.
This year, with Maurice now well-engaged in his second career as a stallion, trainer Dennis Yip and jockey Nash Rawiller are hopeful that Secret Weapon can go one better in Sunday’s (10 December) HK$25 million feature.
“He came through his last start very well,” Yip said at Sha Tin on Monday morning (4 December). “I think his form is perfect and I couldn’t be happier with him. It took a top horse to beat him last year and if the same Secret Weapon turns up in 2017, I think they’ll know he is there.
“Early in the season, everything pointed towards this race. I knew I could take my time with him this year and just bring him along at his own pace. So he’s needed a couple of runs but I think now, he’s coming along really well. I’d be disappointed if he didn’t do something this weekend.”
Rawiller, who steered Secret Weapon to his last victory in the G2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m) in November 2016, has ridden the Choisir gelding in four of his five starts since last year’s placing. He believes that the seven-year-old enters as something of a forgotten horse.
“Everyone has been made pretty aware that the horse was a bit behind the eight-ball early but that he had been set for this weekend,” he said. “He’s been a little forgotten, it seems. He has just continued to improve day to day, from whatever he does. I’m as happy with him as I’ve ever been, he’s better than he was when I won on him last year so that’s exciting.”
Secret Weapon finished fifth last start, four and a half lengths behind Werther in this year’s Jockey Club Cup. For Rawiller, that race was just the test he needed to be “cherry ripe” for the big dance.
“Last start was a pretty solid race, they ran it hard,” he said. “It was a race that was either going to make or break him and I think he has come through it with flying colours. I think it has him spot on for next Sunday’s big race.
“His best form puts him in good stead. What he’s done in the last few weeks is really not important now, it’s how he feels this week and he’s right on track. He feels amazing.”
Secret Weapon is one of three rides for Rawiller as the Australian jockey seeks his first HKIR victory. He is also set to partner Hong Kong’s highest-rated galloper Mr Stunning in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) and Sichuan Dar in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m).