Right Choice (NZ) (Mastercraftsman) edged an enthralling duel for the Kowloon Cricket Club Centenary Cup Handicap (1600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday to sweeten what jockey Silvestre de Sousa felt was a wrong decision one race prior.
The Brazilian was all but forced to lead the Class 2 feature race on the talented four-year-old, a move that almost backfired.
“The way the race was run wasn’t suitable for him, it was such a slow pace and with the weight he carried I felt the best position would be where he was in front, so he’d be in the right place at the right time, but he was never happy to be there doing the work,” the rider said.
Fellow Brazilian Joao Moreira pressured the leader aboard top-weight Time To Celebrate, never allowing De Sousa’s mount to relax. And, when De Sousa had to ask questions of Right Choice entering the home straight, Moreira was there to pounce.
Time To Celebrate edged the lead with 400m to race and looked momentarily as though he had the 1.9 favourite’s measure. But De Sousa was in no mood for capitulation; a powerful drive galvanized Right Choice; the New Zealand-bred rallied to regain the lead at the 200m mark and then held on as the brave Time To Celebrate lunged again at the line.
“He dug deep!” De Sousa said. “I’d like to ride him again over a mile but be more patient and let him come home from the back.
“He felt like he was still immature and babyish. He just wants to be in a fast pace where he can come home strongly. I hope he’s better than he showed today.”
The Frankie Lor-trained gelding scored by a nose in 1m 35.25s to take his career tally to five wins from six starts.
“He couldn't find any horse to lead so he got lost in front,” Lor said. “He learned something and next time, if nothing leads and he finds he’s in front, he will be better.
“I’ll look at the programme and see if we stay at a mile or go back to 1400 (metres), maybe give him a month off.”
Right Choice is a graduate of the 2016 New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling sale where he sold for $90,000 from the draft of Bradbury Park. - HKJC