Blinkers on as Bon’s A Pearla looks to upstage the boys in BMW Hong Kong Derby

Declan Schuster

15/03/2023 13:02

Bon’s A Pearla is chasing a first win in Hong Kong.
Bon’s A Pearla is chasing a first win in Hong Kong.

Bon’s A Pearla will aim to complete a rare feat when she lines up in the 146th HK$24 million BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) this Sunday afternoon (19 March) at Sha Tin.

Corvette (1976) and Elegant Fashion (2003) are the last two fillies to have won the city’s famed contest. Bon’s A Pearla will look to equal the achievement – with blinkers applied for the first time in Hong Kong – as she bids to overthrow the likes of Beauty Eternal and Super Sunny Sing among 13 high-class rivals.

Lyle Hewitson rides Bon’s A Pearla once more – as he has done in the first two legs of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series – while David Hayes trains the filly, looking to win his second crown in the race after Elegant Fashion.

Hewitson, 25, is nearing the 60 career wins mark in Hong Kong and he remains pleased with the Australian Group 1-placegetter ahead of Sunday’s BMW Hong Kong Derby.

“She’s doing very well and I’m of the opinion that she has improved lately, she’s probably going into this race better than she has ahead of any of her previous races – which is ideal going into the Derby.

“She’ll have the blinkers fitted which is going to be a big asset, it hasn’t changed her demeanour, so she’ll still be the lovely and relaxed horse she is – it’s just to help her with a bit of confidence and sharpness to respond,” Hewitson said.

Bon’s A Pearla is yet to win in Hong Kong and has mixed her form so far. She has shown tremendous closing speed at times across four starts in the city.

Bon’s A Pearla finishes seventh in the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).

“Initially I didn’t think so (to seeing out 2000m) but the more that I have done with her in trackwork and recently, especially, I do think that it is going to be up her alley. Her gallop this morning (Tuesday, 14 March) was fantastic and we’re all systems go,” Hewitson said.

First-up in Hong Kong, Bon’s A Pearla came from the tail of the field to finish just over a length behind Super Sunny Sing over 1400m last December.

“I think they (Beauty Eternal and Super Sunny Sing) are very good horses, from what we’ve seen so far, so we’re not under any illusions that we’re going to go out there to win the race but I’m quietly confident that she’ll please us,” Hewitson said.

Bon’s A Pearla placed third in the 2022 G1 Australian Guineas (1600m) pre-import at Flemington. Her biggest win came in the 2021 G2 Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m) at Caulfield.

She finished 11th in the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) and seventh in the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) – the first two legs of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series.

“Her first two runs in Class 3, she was a bit unlucky, I’m not saying she would have won but she basically never got runs. In the Classic Mile we had to settle right back in a slow race and it was hard to get a line on that.

“She acquitted herself well in the Classic Cup but she just dropped the bridle on me on the home turn and gave herself a little bit more to do when horses pressured her near the rail – hence going for the blinkers, and if she can find the improvement from that run, which is expected, I think that she can run well,” Hewitson said.

Bon’s A Pearla is one of two engaged in the BMW Hong Kong Derby for Hayes, who will also saddle Flagship Warrior – a one-time winner in Hong Kong.

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