Hong Kong


Boughey out to break new ground with Believing

George Boughey has quickly established himself as one of the most ambitious trainers on the global stage and the Briton will bid for his own slice of history when saddling Believing for the HK$22 million G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) at Sha Tin. 

Boughey, who is in his sixth domestic season, has already speared a British Classic courtesy of Cachet’s G1 1,000 Guineas (1609m) strike in 2022 and is an established name in Europe and the Middle East. He will bid for a groundbreaking first win in Hong Kong on 28 April, when he hopes to become the feature sprint’s first international winner.

“It has never been done and it might never be done, but I’m really interested to give it a go,” the trainer, 32, said. “I’m not underestimating the task we’re setting ourselves but I’m looking forward to it. It’s the most prizemoney I think we’ve run for and that’s key. 

“I think it’s almost the pinnacle of racing to travel horses. It’s something I’ve set out to do and the racing is almost perfect in Hong Kong. It’s always fascinated me. They’ve been fantastic in inviting us and we’re looking forward to it.”

Believing is expected to be ideally suited by the 1200m Sha Tin circuit; picture supplied by hkjc.com

In Believing, who came within three quarters of a length of striking in the G1 Sprint Cup (1207m) at Haydock in September, Boughey has a fascinating contender.

“Statistically, two or three of her best efforts have come around a bend on fast ground and there’s not many chances to do that in England. Watching her train on fast ground and looking at her action, she hardly picks her feet up, so I think she’s best suited to fast ground,” he said.

Believing only turned four at the turn of the year and Boughey is confident she has more to offer at the elite level this campaign. He has his sights on trips to Royal Ascot and the Breeders’ Cup now she’s at her physical and mental peak, with no issues anticipated ahead of her scheduled flight to Hong Kong on 19 April.

“She had her quirks earlier in her career,” he said. “She used to kick the horsebox the whole way to the races and now she stands as quiet as a lamb. She’s maturing and she’s much better in the gates than she used to be. All the signs are right that she should be able to handle the journey and the event. This year she looks like a different filly, she’s got a full summer coat and she’s glowing.”

It is easy to draw comparisons between Believing and Boughey’s former stable star Cachet, who also ran in the pale blue silks of Highclere Racing, and hopes are high the owners’ latest star can deliver a victory of similar magnitude.

“She lives in Cachet’s box and she has a very similar attitude,” the trainer said. “She’s got a low head carriage, wants fast ground and is fast. They were both bought from the same sale and run for Highclere. She’s got to go and do it but all the suggestions are that she may well have improved again.”

Despite the absence of reigning champion Lucky Sweynesse, Believing will still face four Group 1 winners in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize. Al Quoz Sprint (1200m) winner California Spangle will bid to make a victorious return to his home city against Japan’s Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1200m) winner Mad Cool, January’s Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) hero Victor The Winner and the Blue Diamond Stakes winner Little Brose, who will make his Hong Kong debut.

However, Boughey is keen to seize the lucrative opportunity and believes the likely set-up of the race will play to the strengths of his strong-staying filly.

Assessing the opposition, he said: “California Spangle has been a miler and they’ll be looking to make plenty of use of him, and the stronger the pace for us the better. 

“There’s a couple of Japanese horses in there and Victor The Winner, who was third in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen the other day. It’s a Group 1 and we’ve got to give it the respect but I wouldn’t be sending her if I didn’t think she had a legitimate chance.”