• Group Three winner at Moonee Valley on track for first run in the city despite minor troubles in trials

Despite a few minor hiccups in his first Hong Kong preparation, former Australian Group Three winner Magic Control will be unleashed by new trainer Jamie Richards in his city debut at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.

Formerly known as Archo Nacho, the son of Sioux Nation won three of his five starts pre-import including the Group Three Red Anchor Stakes (1,200m) at Moonee Valley last October.

He also won a hot edition of the Listed Poseidon Stakes (1,100m) down the Flemington straight, beating subsequent Group One placegetters I Am Unstoppable and King's Gambit, and a Werribee maiden on debut.

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In the lead-up to his Hong Kong debut, Magic Control has given Richards a few headaches after getting loose before his first scheduled trial.

He also lost two front shoes when jumping out of the gates in a Sha Tin dirt trial last month.

However, Richards has been pleased with how Magic Control has bounced back and is hopeful the three-year-old will strike in the Class Three Violet Handicap (1,000m) at Happy Valley.

"He's a horse that arrived up here with some good form in Melbourne," Richards said.

"He seems to be acclimatising pretty quickly and he's been trialling well, so hopefully he can do a good job for us there tomorrow night.

"Unfortunately he hasn't had a lot of luck since he arrived here. His first trial, he got loose. Then he trialled well at the Valley and then his next trial on the all-weather [at Sha Tin], he lost both of his front shoes when he jumped out of the barrier and we've since sent him up to Conghua and gave him a couple of quiet trials, just to get his confidence back again. We feel as though he's in the right sort of shape to head off to the races now."

Magic Control won his Happy Valley trial in April, comfortably scoring by two lengths from Fast Serve who he reopposes on Wednesday night. He also won his most recent Conghua trial by more than five lengths in slick time.

An ideal draw in barrier four has boosted Richards' confidence, but he is acutely aware of the challenge his charge faces on his Hong Kong debut.

"He's drawn well, Hugh [Bowman] knows him and there looks to be plenty of pace on paper, so hopefully he can just get a nice run," the Kiwi handler said.

"It's never easy for the [private purchases] to win first time out [in Hong Kong], but hopefully he can run a nice race for us.

"He's had a couple of little things that haven't been ideal, but we've given him time and the owners have been nice and patient, so hopefully we can see him run well tomorrow night."

Magic Control led in his latest trial but raced off the speed in Australia. There is no shortage of noted speedsters engaged in the Violet Handicap with Fast Serve, Youthful Spirits and Colourful Prince expected to vie for the lead.

Richards will also run Happy United, a two-time course and distance winner.

"He's in good shape," Richards said.

"He just had a quiet trial up at Conghua after not racing very well down the straight here at Sha Tin. He's much more at home at the Valley, but he's drawn a bad gate [11], so he's going to need a bit of luck."

Meanwhile, California Spangle warmed up for the Group Three Premier Cup (1,400m) on June 23 with a close second in a Sha Tin dirt trial on Tuesday morning.

The Tony Cruz-trained gelding led and was under a hold by Brenton Avdulla when beaten a short head by Top Gun in the 1,200m trial.

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (, the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

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2024-06-11T09:01:56Z dg43tfdfdgfd