Pakistan Star may not race again this season as stewards get tough
Hong Kong's most famous horse, internet sensation Pakistan Star, will not take part in the jurisdiction's richest raceday in December after the Hong Kong Jockey Club threatened to reinstate the embargo on his participation – should his recalcitrant behaviour continue.
Pakistan Star, who shot to worldwide fame with a sensational last-to-first burst on his debut, has only further enhanced his status as a global phenomenon by first frustrating fans in Hong Kong by not quite getting there in time to suffer a series of heavy odds-on defeats and then proving his class by chasing home ill-fated superstar Rapper Dragon in the Hong Kong Classic Cup and Hong Kong Derby.
The story then took another twist when he pulled himself up in the Group 3 Premier Plate in June, for which he was the 1-5 favourite, which resulted in the stewards placing an embargo on his participation until successfully trialling on the track and proving his willingness to race.
But in Tuesday's trial he again ignored jockey Joao Moreira's urgings and came to a near standstill at the exact same point on the course, causing the stewards on Wednesday morning to state he must satisfactorily undertake two gallops from the 1,800m mark along the back straight of the turf course at Sha Tin, past the problematic point, and then if successful take part in a further two barrier trials over 1,600m before being allowed to race.
Cruz admitted afterwards it may be months before the four-year-old is ready to undergo the tests and said: "The International races in December? Forget it, he might not even race this season."
Speaking to the South China Morning Post after the hearing, he added: "We need to be sure this problem has been rectified before we start thinking about any big races.
"I want to say thanks to the Jockey Club for the chance to work through this. Nobody wants to see a horse doing these kinds of things, like the last time he ran in the Premier Plate, putting his brakes on and stopping, man, it was a shock. As a jockey and as a trainer I've never had a horse do this.
"I'm going to try and erase this stupid habit he has, and the great thing is that the owner and Club are giving us plenty of time to do what we want.
"It's not a simple thing you can erase. Horses, like humans, have habits. It just goes to show a horse like him recognises places and faces, and that he is a thinker and he has a good memory. You can't get rid of it right away. It's not easy to rectify this type of problem and I suppose if I can't fix it he will go elsewhere, but I'm confident I can do it."