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Al Quoz hero Amber Sky due back Wednesday

The dazzling turf sprinter Amber Sky makes his return to racing in Hong Kong on Wednesday. Trained by Ricky Yiu, the 2014 Al Quoz Sprint (G1) winner has been out since March and aimed for a new campaign. The start is the National Day Cup (HKG3) over the straight 1,000 metres at Sha Tin. Below is the press release issued by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Dubai World Cup Horse Race Meeting 29th March 2014 at Meydan race track

Amber Sky makes his eagerly-awaited return to action in a fascinating renewal of the HKG3 National Day Cup (Handicap) at ShaTin on Wednesday, 1 October, with trainer and jockey both confident of the speedball’s chances in the 1000m test.

The Ricky Yiu-trained five-year-old has won six from 11 down Sha Tin’s 1000m straight and signed off last term in Dubai with a sensational trailblazing victory in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint (1000m) back in March.

“It was a very tough race in Dubai and he needed a long rest,” said Yiu. “He’s done extremely well after the long break, the jockey likes him, we’re ready to go and we’re looking for a little bit of improvement going into this season.”

Joao Moreira is three from three on the bay bullet and was in the plate for a barrier trial over the course and distance on 19 September. Amber Sky was never headed in that pipe-opener as he comfortably clocked 56.94s.

“He feels as good as ever,” said Moreira. “He’s going to have fresh legs, and I know he’s going to be giving a lot of weight to some of the others but I really have faith in this horse. He’s one of the best sprinters I’ve ridden in my life, so if he brings his ‘A’ game to the race he will be hard to beat, even with the weight.”

Yiu is also unconcerned about the 132lbs his charge will shoulder: “He’s done it before over the distance with top-weight, so I expect he can do it again.”

The trainer is keen to step his charge out of his comfort zone as the season progresses. Amber Sky has only twice attempted to stretch out to 1200m around the turn at Sha Tin and has been beaten both times, latterly when sixth in the G2 BOCHKWealth Management Jockey Club Sprint last November. That is a path Yiu is keen to tread again en route to a tilt at the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint in December.

“This season, I’ll try to run him over 1200m again around the bend,” he said. “He’s five now and he’s more mature; he’s stronger, both mentally and physically.

I’m hoping I can run him in the International sprint and if all goes to plan I’d hopefully run him in the trial race in November.”

Also among the nine entries for the National Day Cup is another hero of last season’s Dubai World Cup fixture, Sterling City, who that night landed the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen over 1200m on the Tapeta. John Moore’s charge will carry top-weight of 133lbs, while stablemate Charles The Great, winner of last season’s G2 BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Sprint has been allotted 131lbs.

At the foot of the weights is the exciting and lightly-raced five-year-old Rad (110bs) who has won all three Hong Kong starts, each over 1000m. But those wins are spread across two seasons and David Hall’s charge made just one appearance last term when he clocked 55.83s to see off the re-opposing Peniaphobia (114lbs) in a Class 2. The latter will be 2lbs worse off for a length and a half (assuming Rad carries the 113lbs minimum on raceday) but Tony Cruz’s two-time course and distance winner has the benefit of a run under his belt already this term.

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