Pluck expat commands Challenge Cup

Jade Theatre relished a return to turf with a commanding victory in the Hong Kong Challenge Cup (1200m) on Wednesday evening.

The Pluck (USA) sprinter went out at $12 after a disappointing display on December 17.  “He didn’t like the dirt last time,” jockey Zac Purton said at Happy Valley. “He also lost a shoe and then stopped travelling.

“He was more comfortable on grass tonight,” Purton added.  “He gave me a nice kick and it was a good run.”

Jade Theatre was the first winner sired by Pluck when he broke through at Ellerslie on Boxing Day in 2015 for trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman.  Known as Gasoline in New Zealand, he added stakes-placings at Matamata and Te Rapa before transferring to Hong Kong trainer Manfred Man.

“After he won last season, we expected he would win again before now,” Man said.  “But he was either badly drawn or hampered.  In fact, he was badly drawn tonight and that affected our confidence.”

Jade Theatre’s Kiwi stablemate Pluck That was also sent to Man and he won at Sha Tin last year after being renamed Winwin Ruby.

Harbour Century is another promising son of Pluck in Hong Kong.  He came from last in a capacity field to finish within two lengths of Super Missile at Sha Tin on New Year’s Day.

It was an impressive debut by the Paul O’Sullivan-trained gelding who was pin-hooked for $72,500 out of the Vinery draft at the 2016 Inglis Classic Sale.  His dam Dream Leica (Maroof) is a half-sister to Leica Guv (NZ Derby Gr.1) and her first foal Golden Bauhinia won 10 sprints in Hong Kong.

Harbour Century didn’t make a $150,000 reserve at the 2016 NZB Ready To Run Sale before relocating to Hong Kong.  He is owned by Tony Chan Chi Ming whose horses all have a “Harbour” connection.

The next Pluck for sale in NZ is the colt from Grand Lady (Lot 840) at the Karaka Yearling Sale on February 1.  His dam won at Randwick for Gerald Ryan and is a half-sister to Rena’s Lady (Australian Oaks Gr.1), Vatuvei (Moonee Valley Cup Gr.2) and Raise (Adrian Knox Stakes Gr.3).

Pluck, who stands alongside his sire More Than Ready at Vinery, has started the New Year with 8 winners led by Plucky Girl who can double up for trainer Toby Edmonds at Doomben this Saturday.

His classy mare Life On The Wire won her fourth race in a row at Sandown on New Year’s Eve and is having a break on Seven Mile Beach in Hobart to prepare for Group 3 targets in the Bow Mistress Trophy and Vamos Stakes.