• Three-year-old backs up convincing trial victories with outstanding triumph on his maiden racetrack appearance

Christmas came early for David Hayes on Sunday as Ka Ying Rising scorched to an impressive debut victory in the Class Four Hankow Handicap (1,200m) at Sha Tin.

After triumphing in his five trials on Hong Kong soil, Hayes was itching to unleash Ka Ying Rising under race conditions, and the three-year-old delivered in spades.

"It was sort of like having a present under the Christmas tree, I just had to open it in a race," Hayes said. "I thought he was good, and you have to hold your tongue a bit until they do it in a race."

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Prominent throughout the contest, Ka Ying Rising travelled powerfully around the home turn before stretching clear of his rivals to win eased down by two and three-quarter lengths.

"It's a relief to see him do what I thought he could do," Hayes said. "He's won nine barrier trials and now a race, so he's not morning glory, and might be a good racehorse."

After arriving from Australia at the end of July, Ka Ying Rising faced three trials on the Conghua turf and one down the Sha Tin straight before stepping up to 1,200m on the all-weather on November 24.

The son of Missy Moo's decisive victory will likely see him leap into Class Three company on his next assignment, and Hayes is optimistic there may be immediate improvement on the horizon.

"He's a progressive horse, and I think he'll be able to compete in Class Three for sure," Hayes said. "I would rather him run in that class with a light weight because he's only three."

"His weakness is that he's still a bit immature with his eating. I'll get him eating well over the next two weeks, and then I'll look for a race in a month or so. It's all about getting his rating up to get ready for the good races next year."

Ka Ying Rising's win took Hayes' tally for the 2023-24 season to 10, while providing Zac Purton with the first leg of a double on the 10-race card.

Purton sits at the summit of the premiership on 34 victories - 12 clear of nearest pursuer Karis Teetan - and Hayes admitted it was the reigning champion jockey who was the deciding factor behind Ka Ying Rising's starting point.

"He was ready to run on the straight over 1,000m last week, and Zac talked me out of running in the race," Hayes said.

"He was booked on [Loyal] Bo Bo and said 'don't run against it, because it's Class One'. I sat there and watched it finish fifth, and I think my horse would've beaten him.

"I wanted to give him a trial around a bend, and I wanted to see he could turn and switch legs. He didn't need to trial last time, but it was just a bit of insurance when Zac talked me out of running."

Purton completed his brace aboard Pins Prince in the Class Three Salisbury Handicap (1,400m), with the six-year-old bouncing back from a disappointing effort over 1,200m at Sha Tin on November 19.

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

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2023-12-03T12:08:02Z dg43tfdfdgfd