Sky Darci stepped onto the turf at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning for the first time since his BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) triumph in March as he builds towards his much anticipated return in the G3 Lion Rock Trophy Handicap (1600m) at the end of this month.
Readying for the HK$3.5 million contest on 30 May, the son of Darci Brahma crossed the line third in this morning’s barrier trial behind the unbeaten Winner Method, who clocked 57.61s down the 1000m straight, while Californiadeepshot filled second.
Much to the delight of jockey Joao Moreira, the New Zealand-bred broke cleanly and was steadily eased to the rear before meandering through the field with a bit of swagger.
“He was fine, he just went out for a piece of exercise among horses,” Moreira said. “He jumped brilliantly as usual, he relaxed nicely and he came through the field travelling on the bridle. He was only out there for an exercise, not to be tested and he’s done it very well.”
Hong Kong Derby winner Sky Darci trialled stylishly this morning, picture HKJC
Following his triumph in the HK$24 million contest two months ago, the 106-rater has enjoyed a short stint at Conghua prior to returning to Hong Kong on 30 April, much like he has done for the most part of his 12-start career.
“I think the break was what he deserved anyway, because he has done an amazing job throughout the season. He’s won four races including the Derby,” the Brazilian said.
Crowned by his Derby triumph, the bay has six wins to his name in Hong Kong, including a Class 1 score over the mile in the Chevalier Cup Handicap earlier this season, and the following start he finished second to Champion’s Way in the G3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup Handicap (1400m).
“I’m booked if he’s running because it’s still not 100 percent if he will run. If he keeps going the way he is at the moment then I think we should be running at the end of the month and I should be on him,” Moreira said.
First run in 2016, the Lion Rock Trophy is named after Lion Rock, a mountain that overlooks the back of Kowloon, 495 metres high, and it is a race that Moreira has previously scaled three times aboard Rapper Dragon (2016), The Golden Age (2018) and Champion’s Way (2019).