Aerovelocity arrives in Japan ahead of Takamatsunomiya Kinen
The Hong Kong-based Aerovelocity, the only overseas raider scheduled to take on the March 29 Takamatsunomiya Kinen following the withdrawal of Hong Kong’s Lucky Nine, arrived safely at Narita International Airport just after 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17.
The 7-year-old New Zealand-bred gelding was transported from Narita to quarantine at the JRA Horseracing School Quarantine Center in Shiroi, Chiba Prefecture, where he arrived at 9:40 the same morning completing a 10-hour trip from his home base Sha Tin.
Traveling with Aerovelocity was Pang Chi Ng, assistant to trainer Paul O’Sullivan. Ng said, “There were no problems with the journey itself, but after arriving in Japan, the horse was a bit nervous due to the change in surroundings.” Ng said he was instructed by O’Sullivan to keep Aerovelocity “in a happy frame of mind with only light work and to keep him enjoying his meals.” The horse has access to a 1,400-meter dirt track at the school and will be worked between 7 and 7:30 a.m. Japan time.
On Wednesday morning, Aerovelocity entered the track at 7 a.m. for a brief workout consisting of 500 meters of trotting and a lap around the 1,400-meter track at an easy gallop of 25-30 seconds per furlong. He finished with 700 meters of walking.
Ng commented. “It’s his first day after arriving in Japan and he is much calmer now. After coming out onto the track he spooked at a few things but he worked without any other problems. His work is the same as it is in Hong Kong and he knows the work well. I don’t think there are any concerns with being in a different country.”
Aerovelocity weighed in on Wednesday at 538 kg.
Aerovelocity, by Pins out of the Kaapstad mare Exodus, is owned by Ngai Daniel Yeung. The gelding currently has eight wins from 16 starts, in addition to four seconds and a third. His earnings amount to approximately 300 million yen.
After a four-race winning streak from November 2013 to February 2014, Aerovelocity moved to the graded-stakes level. He won the 1,200-meter HKG3 Sha Tin Vase last May, then ran second in the 1,400-meter HKG3 Premier Cup in June. Spelling until October, he came back for a win of the HKG2 Premier Bowl. Next out, the Jockey Club Sprint in November saw him unable to get a clear run and he finished in last place, 14th of 14 runners. However, December saw him back in the winner’s circle with victory in the Dec. 14 G1 Hong Kong Sprint. Japan’s Straight Girl finished only 1 length behind him in third place.
Last out, he finished second by a short head to Gold-Fun in the Feb. 15 Sprint Prize, a HKG1 over 1,200 meters. Aerovelocity’s regular rider is the 31-year-old Zachary Purton, who topped the jockeys’ list last season with 112 wins, 15 ahead of Joao Moreira. Purton, who has ridden Aerovelocity for all of his 12 races since the summer of 2013, is expected to have the ride in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen.
Aerovelocity’s trainer Paul O’Sullivan, 55, worked together with his father Dave for 17 years and was champion trainer in New Zealand for 11 times. He moved to Hong Kong to train in 2004, but had already made his mark in Japan with a winning record run in the Japan Cup by Horlicks in 1989. O’Sullivan has been successful wherever he has gone. Surfers Paradise won him the G1 Cox Plate in 1991. In Hong Kong, Vital King took the HK Derby in 2007 and Fellowship the HKG1 Stewards Cup in 2010. Last season, O’Sullivan’s horses gave him 23 wins, putting him in the No. 17 slot among Hong Kong trainers. This season, O’Sullivan has already surpassed last season’s mark with a current 32 wins.
The Takamatsunomiya Kinen will be held over 1,200 meters of turf at Chukyo Racecourse outside Nagoya. The race has a total purse of over 197 million yen, of which 95 million will be awarded to the winner. The race is the 11th race on the Chukyo Sunday card of 12. Post time is set for 3:40 p.m.