Sweet Encounter’s aiming to bounce back in Classic Cup

Declan Schuster

22/02/2023 10:51

Sweet Encounter is a four-time winner from seven starts.
Sweet Encounter is a four-time winner from seven starts.

Luke Currie is expecting an improved effort from Sweet Encounter when the Toronado gelding lines up in Sunday’s (26 February) HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).

Slow away at the start before fading to a dead-heat eighth in the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) at the end of January, Sweet Encounter was the victim of circumstances feels Currie as the New Zealand-bred bay aims to give John Size a fifth Hong Kong Classic Cup crown this weekend at Sha Tin after Unique Jewellery (2009), It Has To Be You (2013), Thunder Fantasy (2015) and Sun Jewellery (2016).

“He was one of the favourites to win last start, you can’t write him off after one run – one run when he didn’t get it quite right out of the barriers and also with the way the race shaped,” Currie said.

Voyage Bubble made all last start in the Hong Kong Classic Mile with very little pressure around him early on and throughout the race under Jamie Kah, before surging to a comfortable success in the first leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series over Tuchel and Packing Treadmill. The latter doesn’t feature this weekend.

“They stayed in their order and the leader (Voyage Bubble) was dominant, I’m hoping this time that he doesn’t get the 1800 metres and an easy lead like the other day.

“I think everyone’s probably in the same boat but the 1800 metres will test that theory and I think my horse, if he can take a nice position, then he gets a much better chance than what he got last time,” Currie said.

Sweet Encounter scores over 1800m in December.

Sweet Encounter is owned by Vicky Tang, the owner of Size’s second Hong Kong Classic Cup winner It Has To Be You, who surprised at odds of 125/1 under Australian rider Tim Clark.

The 86-rating Sweet Encounter is a four-time winner, having prevailed over 1200m, 1400m, 1600m and also 1800m last December by one and a quarter lengths in Class 3.

Currie finished second atop Tuchel in the Hong Kong Classic Mile, while this weekend he hops aboard Sweet Encounter for the first time after Ryan Moore rode the horse last start.

“He was a bit slow away in the (Hong Kong) Classic Mile last time and in a race that was dominated on the speed. I’d hope that he can get away and get into nice a position, like he has been in his prior runs,” Currie said.

Sweet Encounter crossed the line in second last position in a barrier trial over 1200m on the dirt last Tuesday (14 February) at Sha Tin under Currie, while Tuchel – also trained by Size – finished second.

Tuchel pairs with Zac Purton this Sunday, while Voyage Bubble, Sword Point, Galaxy Witness, Super Sunny Sing and more will go to post.

The three-race HK$48 million Four-Year-Old Classic Series concludes on 19 March with the running of the HK$24 million BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m).  

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