Champion’s Way back on winning list
Credit to trainer John Size for bypassing the Longines Hong Kong International Races for the victory
Eleven-time Hong Kong champion trainer John Size is a shrewd judge.
His decision not to enter Champion's Way in the lucrative Longines Hong Kong International Races last month was vindicated when his charge won the Group 3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup Handicap over 1,400m at Sha Tin on Friday.
It ended Champion's Way 18-month drought.
Beaten by Hong Kong banner horse Golden Sixty at his three previous starts, Champion's Way benefited from Size's decision-making, when he was given a superb ride by Karis Teetan to down the luckless Sky Darci and Mighty Giant.
Size attributed the gelding's first victory since June 2019 to a drop in class, conceding the five-year-old struggles at elite level.
"I think they're too strong for him and he's just wasting his energy," said the Australian trainer, of Champion's Way's inability to add to the six victories (from seven starts) he posted in the 2018/19 season.
"At least, he's won another race, which we were hoping to do.
"He's found Class 1 racing and Group racing a little bit difficult for him."
He added that the run of the race and track condition suited th ehorse, so he was able to do his best.
Teetan followed Size's instructions to the letter, clinging to the rail and avoiding the buffeting endured by Sky Darci from the home turn.
"John just said to 'don't do any work, come out of the good gate (2) and leave him alone, the pace should be on, sit on the rail and wait'," said Teetan.
"I must say John had the horse in really good form and he had a lot to offer in the straight. It was a good win."
Champion's Way gave Size his fifth win in the feature, after Grand Delight (2003), High Intelligent (2005), Pocket Money (2008) and Conte (2019).
Teetan was previously successful aboard Fifty Fifty for Peter Ho in 2018.
Caspar Fownes extended his lead in the trainers' championship over Frankie Lor, to 37-30, after triumphing with Master Fay, Explosive Witness and Royal Bomb.
The handler was rueful after Sky Darci's second behind Champion's Way, but was delighted with the lightly-raced gelding's performance.
"I'm very happy with him," said Fownes. "He was poleaxed on the turn, but he's right where he needs to be for the Four-Year-Old Classic Series.
"He's learning how we want him to race and, provided he's all right after the run, he'll be back here on Jan 24 (for the Hong Kong Classic Mile)." - HKJC