Hong Kong Derby Contenders For Mill Park Stud Graduates

A classy three year-old in the Chris Waller stable last season winning the Group III ATC Frank Packer Plate and finishing second in the Group I BRC Queensland Derby, Senor Toba (pictured above) has opened his account in Hong Kong with a stylish win at Sha Tin on Monday.

The dashing grey son of Toronado (IRE) is now trained by Caspar Fownes and powered to the line for Joao Moreira to score a half length win in the 2000m Class Two contest.

Senor Toba’s emergence as a legitimate BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) contender continued, fuelling Caspar Fownes and Joao Moreira’s hopes of successive triumphs in the Classic.

Fownes and Moreira combined last season with Sky Darci and the pair is optimistic Senor Toba can emulate the feat with success on 20 March in the HK$24 million contest next year.

“He’s one of my Derby horses. He’s a lovely horse, it’s nice to see them come and do that in their third run in Hong Kong. It was a very pleasing effort. He was a little bit like a drunken sailor down the straight – all over the place – so I’ll be looking at putting some equipment on him to help him focus a little better,” Fownes said.

“He did his job nicely but he’s a horse that will keep improving. You’ll probably see the best of him in December but this is his Derby season, so we’ll be going forward to try to get a good result there. But this horse, I think once he gets over 2400 (metres), he’s a very good horse and he’ll keep improving.”

Last season’s champion trainer, Fownes might bypass the HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin on 30 January with Senor Toba to avoid a drop in distance.

“It’s the Four-Year-Old Classic Series and he’s secured his place there now – but he needs a little bit more racing. I’ve just got to tweak his equipment a little bit to sharpen him up, he’s a little slow out of the gates – we’ve got to get that sorted out,” Fownes said.

“You can get away with it over a longer distance but when you come back to a mile it becomes tough. In saying that, we have to be happy, we’ve got a nice horse going forward.

“I just wanted to get the points on the board for this horse and then I can worry about training him for the one big race – his target is the Derby – so he’ll be spot on for that race, the rest of it will be gravy.

“He’s the type of horse who will be better suited with a good speed on and then he’ll sustain a long run – which you’ll get in the Four-Year-Old Classic Series. All-in-all we’re happy, we’ve got something really good to work with there, so it’s exciting.”

Senor Toba was a $180,000 Inglis Premier purchase from the Mill Park draft for Hermitage Thoroughbreds and has the overall record of three wins and three placings from nine starts.

Bred by well-known South Australian breeder David Peacock, Senor Toba is the first foal of Group I placed Teofilo (IRE) mare Bahamas, a half-sister to Group II VRC Matriarch Stakes winner Affair to Remember, who is also by Toronado.

Bahamas has a yearling filly by Frosted (USA) and produced a colt by Harry Angel (IRE) in October.

Toronado had a winning double at Sha Tin with lightly raced four year-old Sight Spirit making it two wins from four starts with an impressive three length victory over 1400m for the John Size stable.

An $80,000 Magic Millions Adelaide purchase from the Mill Park draft for John Foote Bloodstock, Sight Spirit (pictured above) is the first winner for Marmelo, a metro winning Duke of Marmalade (IRE) mare, whose grand-dam is Group I VRC Oaks winner Tributes.