30th January 2019

It was a big Wednesday night at Happy Valley for Price Bloodstock, with a winning treble of horses at varying stages of their careers – a new one, an established rising star and an honest toiler.

Chris So opened the scoring with Exceptional Desire in the first Class 4 sprint, John Size scored with debutant Champion’s Way in the other division of that race and later he led in Country Star as the three-year-old took his rating to triple figures and maintained his grip on the Happy Valley Million Challenge prize.

With 66 points and just one meeting to run in the contest, Country Star has the $650,000 Million Challenge first prize in reach after 5 winners at Happy Valley this season that have pushed his rating from 52 to 100 and already banked almost $6 million in stake money.

“You couldn’t ask much more of a young horse than he has done. He’s quite a tough horse for a three-year-old, so I’ve kept him going in Class 2, where some others I wouldn’t,” Size said. “It certainly doesn’t get any easier once you get to a rating of 100 as a three-year-old so I’ll be looking for any signs that he needs a break. I’ll let him tell me.”

Size’s other three-year-old winner, Champion’s Way, is just starting his journey but showed a touch of quality in winning his first start around Happy Valley without ever having been there for as much as a trial.

The gelding’s inexperience showed at different parts of the race as Joao Moreira had to keep him focused and the stewards reported he was green In the straight but none of that mattered as he proved too good for more experienced rivals.

“It was a good effort. He’s still got a bit to learn, naturally, but I always take it as a good indication if any horse is able to win at their first start,” Size said. “That indicates he’s probably got pretty good ability and we’re hoping he will improve with racing and a bit more experience.”

Exceptional Desire has now won 3 of his 11 starts over the Happy Valley 1200m, pushed his prizemoney within sight of $3 million and trainer So said the horse’s attitude takes him a long way.

“He isn’t a star but tries very hard and is very honest and he is able to win when he gets a couple of breaks his way. He got that tonight,” So said. “I thought his last run was quite good when he had a wide barrier and ran fourth but this time he had a good draw and didn’t have to do all that extra work in  the run and that was the difference. His wins have all come in Class 4 and the small win margin tonight means he’ll stay in the class next time so he might be able to win another one.”