Kranji trainer Stephen Gray has added another positive to Lim’s Cruiser’s daring bid to Sunday’s HK$20 million Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) – barrier No 3 pulled out at the Sha Tin parade ring on Wednesday.
It was his wife Bridget who was conferred the sometimes thankless responsibility of drawing the all-crucial gate, but she sure brought her lucky hand when her turn came.

“Bridget didn’t want to go as she was nervous, but Mr Lim (Siah Mong) wanted her to do it,” said Gray.

“So, she did and in the end, it was big result for Lim’s Cruiser to get that barrier. It’s worth a couple of lengths for him.”

The Casino Prince six-year-old, who will be partnered for the first time by top Australian jockey Hugh Bowman, faces the sternest test of a stellar domestic career during which he has stamped himself as the undisputed sprint kingpin in the last two years.

Gray, Lim and racing manager Mick Dittman decided to have a throw at the stumps in Hong Kong given the limited racing opportunities back home. While it is a daring gamble to take on the likes of Hot King Prawn, Fine Needle and Sir Dancealot, Gray could not fault the chestnut’s preparation to this date; everything has gone to script.

The gate draw is always a concern but luck was on his side. Besides Lim’s Cruiser’s good alley, main contenders Hot King Prawn (11), Fine Needle (12) and Mr Stunning (9) have drawn wide.

All Gray has to do now is wait for the countdown till Sunday, 2.40pm.

Michael Lee