Ad Master Fay winning the Group 3 Concorde Handicap at Ellerslie for jockey Vinnie Colgan and trainer Chad Ormsby (Image Credit: Race Images PN)

NZ sprinter Master Fay to tackle Newmarket Handicap

5 March 2024 Written by Racing & Sports

Master Fay will be giving away experience when he lines up in the Group 1 Yulong sprint at Flemington.

When New Zealand trainer Chad Ormsby sold Master Fay to Hong Kong, he was expecting the horse to potentially develop into a champion sprinter. 

Ormsby was over the moon when Master Fay scored at his Hong Kong debut on New Year's Day in 2021 and was eagerly awaiting to see when the gelding would next appear. 

Unfortunately, that day did not eventuate again in Hong Kong, and Master Fay was finally sent back to Ormsby where he made a racetrack return just over three years after that debut success. 

"I sent him up to Hong Kong confident he would break records up there," Ormsby said. 

"I thought he could be Sprinter of the Year, Horse of the Year, and when he won his first start, I thought wow, he's on the right track." 

With two wins from his two starts in New Zealand, Ormsby has brought Master Fay across to Melbourne to contest one of Australia's premier, and toughest sprints, the Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday. 

It is a tough ask for Master Fay to compete against the top level at just his fourth start, but Ormsby has that confidence in the gelding. 

Australian-bred Kiwi sprinter Imperatriz is at the very top of that level.

“We follow her at home with a lot of pride and joy seeing her go around and a good mate of mine, Opie (Bosson), rides her,” Ormsby said.

“It’s great to see her form (in Australia) the past 12-18 months and to be lining up next to her, taking her on, it’s a great thrill and pride thing too, we’re going to enjoy it.

“As much as we’d love to win, if we don’t, we’d love to see Imperatriz win again.

A NZ$100,000 purchase, Ormsby said Master Fay was potentially the best horse he has worked with in a career that has seen him as a jockey and trainer, including a stint in a training partnership with his father-in-law, Mike Moroney, who won the Newmarket with Roch 'N' Horse at her Australian debut in 2022. 

"Personally, I think he's right up there, but we won't know until we try as there's some special horses in the race," Ormsby said. 

"He's got raw ability and I have not ridden a horse that is so fast. I've ridden plenty of Group 1 horses and he's on another level and I don't think I've felt the best of him yet. 

"He's only having his fourth start and that makes us a little bit nervous. Maybe we're throwing him in the deep end too soon, but I don't think so.  He is an older horse and I think he can prove up to it." 

Ormsby said he was unsure whether Master Fay would make it back to the racetrack when he first arrived back from Hong Kong with a few niggling problems. 

Luckily, Ormsby said, everything fell into place, although Master Fay did pull-up lame in a hind-leg after his win at Ellerslie on January 27. 

"It was almost like a tie up. We ran a blood, and he had a high muscle enzyme. He's like an ADHD child, he gets over excited and can't stand still. He's like that in his races, he can get over eager at times. By the time he got home after that last start, he was fine," Ormsby said. 

Ormsby had considered a start in the Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield last month and the ATA Bob Hoysted Handicap at Flemington later this month, but felt Saturday's race, timing wise, is a perfect fit for Master Fay.