Time Warp (133lb) returns to Happy Valley on Wednesday (9 January) night for the first time since June 2017 with connections hoping the gelding can enhance his notable record at the city track in the G3 January Cup Handicap (1800m).
Trainer Tony Cruz has opted to have his charge shoulder top-weight in the downtown venue’s only Group race rather than face Beauty Generation over a mile in the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) on 20 January.
“He won’t be running in mile races anymore this season, it’s too sharp for him so it makes sense to keep him over longer distances and I’m happy to take him back to Happy Valley,” Cruz said.
The iconic venue is where it all began for Time Warp: it’s the place where the British import finally hit his straps, eight races into his Hong Kong career. That first success at the Valley came in an 1800m Class 2 handicap on 14 June, 2017 and resulted in an impressive track record performance; and he followed it with an all-the-way win over the venue’s 1650m before the month was out.
Since that last visit, Tony Cruz’s charge has hit the heights with wins in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup and the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup last term, but has also proved to be a hit and miss character. The front-runner posted a solid effort last time, however, placing third in the latest edition of the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup behind his full-brother Glorious Forever.
“He ran well, I thought it was a solid effort,” regular rider Zac Purton said at Sha Tin this morning (8 January). “He set the track record at Happy Valley so that’s not a problem – he has to give weight away but I’ll just let him bowl along and let him enjoy it.
“He seemed like he enjoyed his last run. That was because the pace was nice, he got into a rhythm and that’s when he’s happy. Maybe back under lights he might improve: he might think he’s on the big stage again!”