Fifty Fifty’s ready for his Group 1 test in Sunday’s Stewards’ Cup

Andrew Hawkins

24/01/2018 14:28

Fifty Fifty will step into Group 1 company for the first time on Sunday.
Fifty Fifty will step into Group 1 company for the first time on Sunday.

Fifty Fifty has been one of this season’s stellar performers, progressing from the middle of Class 3 at the start of the term into a leading player in Sunday’s (28 January) G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) at Sha Tin. Regular rider Karis Teetan believes the Peter Ho-trained grey’s biggest challenge to date can announce his arrival amongst the Hong Kong elite.

“Peter and I were speaking the other day, and we were just saying how everything we ask of this horse, he does,” Teetan said. “All of the pressure we have put him under, he has come out and performed so well. This will obviously be his real test now as he meets the top horses in Hong Kong on a level playing field.”

Last start, Fifty Fifty made his stakes debut in the G3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup Handicap (1400m), the traditional New Year’s Day feature. He carried the minimum weight of 113lb – and was still eight pounds out of the handicap, as well – but he produced a determined effort to see off another emerging galloper in John Size’s sprinter Beat The Clock.

Also behind Fifty Fifty on 1 January were G1 winners Helene Paragon, a length and a quarter from the winner in third, and Beauty Only, a further length and a half away in fourth. However, the son of Thorn Park gave both horses plenty of weight – 20lb and 19lb respectively – while in Sunday’s HK$10 million contest, they all carry the same 126lb impost.

“The last race, he produced a nice win but it obviously wasn’t as strong a field as he meets now and it was a handicap,” Teetan said. “That’s been something with him – he’s won most of his races with light weights, but you can’t knock him because he’s still gone out there and won and he’s beaten some very nice horses too.

Fifty Fifty gets the better of Beat The Clock to win the G3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup.

Fifty Fifty gets the better of Beat The Clock to win the G3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup.

“For me, I think he’s got the ability, now it’s up to him to handle this sort of pressure. I have faith in him against these horses at set weights, particularly as he is just improving all the time.”

Fifty Fifty has only been to the mile once for a win in the Class 1 Chevalier Cup Handicap two starts ago. Teetan feels that, in time, the 1600m will be seen as the five-year-old’s best trip.

“I think this season, we’ve started to see that the 1400 (metres) is a little bit quick for him,” he said. “He’s a fairly easy horse to ride, he doesn’t pull and he races pretty generously, so I am excited to see him back out to 1600 (metres) again. Honestly, I think the more he sits and is allowed to fall asleep and relax, the better he is when he starts to build his momentum, which is why I think the mile is perfect.”

Teetan took to the back straight at Sha Tin on Monday morning on Fifty Fifty, guiding the gelding through a riverside breeze-up alongside stablemate Magic Agility. As would be expected from their race records, Fifty Fifty picked up the leader comfortably, working 800m over the turf in 49.1s, including a last 400m of 23.4s.

“The horse is flying, that work was exactly what you would want to see,” Teetan said with a grin. “That’s nothing new for him, though. From day one, he’s given me a nice feel and he’s just kept progressing. I can’t wait for Sunday.”

Fifty Fifty is set to meet 12 rivals in Sunday’s race, including the last two winners of the Stewards’ Cup in Helene Paragon (2017) and Giant Treasure (2016).  Also in the entries are two G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile winners in Beauty Only and Beauty Generation, the reigning G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) winner Time Warp and 2015/16 Horse of the Year Werther.

The Stewards’ Cup is one of two Group 1 races at Sha Tin on Sunday, with the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) to feature a rematch of the first four horses home in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint – Mr Stunning, D B Pin, Blizzard and Lucky Bubbles.