Spalato's settled in well and O'Hara's pleased
Trainer John O'Hara flew out for a pitstop visit to Hong Kong on Tuesday to be on hand for his star galloper SPALATO's first serious hit-out at Sha Tin.
In the former British colony since Friday to contest the HK$3,875,500 ($648,300) Group 2 BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Sprint over 1,200m this Sunday, a lead-up race to his intended main target, the HK$15 million Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint over 1,200m on Dec 14, Spalato is reported to have settled in well in his new surroundings.
Undefeated in six starts at Kranji, the Graham Mackie-owned Elusive City five-year-old is the only overseas runner in the Jockey Club Sprint where he will do battle against Hong Kong's sprinting elite such as dual KrisFlyer International Sprint winner Lucky Nine, Golden Shaheen winner Sterling City and Al Quoz Sprint winner Amber Sky.
The only other foreign raider at this Sunday's prelude meeting is Japan's Hana's Goal who is running in the Mile race.
O'Hara (below) said the feedback from his work rider TK Barnabas and travelling groom Sylvester Gho have so far been positive.
"Spalato has settled in well. He did not lose any weight as the flight is not that long anyway, only four hours long," said the Singaporean handler who was the young travelling lad who took Colonial Chief to his several visits to Hong Kong for trainer Ivan Allan, including the historic win in the Hong Kong Invitation Cup in 1989.
"He's eating and drinking well and didn't do much other than being hand-walked. He also had a spin on the All-Weather track. He just did one lap of trot and light canter for TK, who was very happy with him.
"I couldn't be happier with the way things have gone so far, but I'll have a better idea how he is myself when I get there tonight."
The busy trainer will head back to Singapore after the crucial turf gallop to be present at tomorrow night's meeting (seven nominations) before taking another plane to Hong Kong on Saturday for the big day at Sha Tin on the next day.
O'Hara's five runners at Kranji that day will be overseen by his assistant-trainer Alvin Kuah.