James McDonald guiding Straight Arron to victory at Randwick (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Ex-Waller G3 winner set for Hong Kong debut

January 1, 2023

Ex-Chris Waller galloper Straight Arron will make his long-awaited Hong Kong debut in the final race at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Now in the care of David Hayes, the lightly-raced son of Fastnet Rock will take on Class 3 company over 1400m, with a red-hot Zac Purton in the saddle.

Straight Arron made a big impression in his short time in Australia, taking out the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) at Randwick in dominant fashion.

He then placed over 2000m in the Group 3 Packer Plate before being exported to Hong Kong.

It hasn’t exactly been smooth-sailing for the gelding since joining the Hayes camp, with his planned Hong Kong debut delayed six weeks.

“He had a hairline fracture on his cannon bone. He never went sore but because he’s such a promising horse, we backed off six weeks.

“So instead of debuting on International Day, he lines up this week,” Hayes told the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Straight Arron has had two recent trials, finishing third in both, to tune him up for his return from a 260-day break.

“We’ve given him easy trials, haven’t put him under any pressure, but gees I like the way he travels.

“He’s got a good professional manner and it wouldn’t surprise we if he won (first-up) but clearly he’s got a lot bigger fish to fry later in the season,” Hayes said.

Straight Arron will jump from barrier nine in the Flame Tree Handicap and Hayes expects the four-year-old to settle in the second half of the field.

“I’d say from nine, first-up after a long time, he’ll be giving them a bit of a start.

“He’ll keep improving out of the race,” he said.

While a first-up win would come as a pleasant surprise, Hayes is hoping Straight Arron does enough to impress his in-form pilot.

“Zac’s record speaks for itself. He’s probably got about 20 horses to choose from going towards the Derby and Classic Mile and hopefully this horse can put his hand up.”

The Flame Tree, race 11 on the card, is set to jump at 8:45pm (AEDT).

– James Lamb