Rattan has posted a series of exciting performances in the handicap grades this term and on Sunday the late-dashing gelding will test his mettle against the best of his peers in the set-weights HK$10 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).
Richard Gibson’s charge is one of five horses among the feature’s 13 entrants that will enter the Four-Year-Old Classic Series fray having side-stepped last month’s opener, the Hong Kong Classic Mile. The last horse to succeed off such a preparation was Ambitious Dragon, seven years ago.
Comparisons with one of Hong Kong’s all-time greats are best left there. But there is no question that Rattan’s profile makes him an interesting new contender against the four-year-old standout and Classic Mile victor, Nothingilikemore.
“Rattan’s an excellent athlete,” Gibson said. “His preparation this year has been really good, he races well and I’m very happy with him.”
The Savabeel gelding tied up a hat-trick of Class 3 wins at Sha Tin over 1400m and a mile earlier this term before coming up a half-length short behind Time To Celebrate in a 1600m Class 2 in December. Late last month, the New Zealand-bred stormed home from deep for second-place behind the pace-stealing Sergeant Titanium in a 1800m Class 2 - his closing 400m splits in both races were faster than any of his rivals.
“I guess there’s a degree of frustration that the horse has run well in his last two races and we haven’t won either of those races. That’s not any blame on the jockey, it’s just the way the races shaped up,” Gibson said.
Chad Schofield partnered Rattan in all of those races but will side with Hong Kong Classic Mile runner-up Singapore Sling on Sunday, with Alexis Badel taking the reins instead.
Rattan’s performances have lifted the second season galloper from 64 to 88 in the ratings. But his current peak is still 24 points shy of Nothingilikemore, a likely short-priced favourite on Sunday.
“It’s for Rattan to prove his worth,” Gibson said. “I think the only thing that’s important is the horse’s race-record and his record is excellent. In an ideal world, you would have preferred him to have a few more (ratings) points going into a big race like this.” -HKJC