Wednesday, December 8, 2004
CATHAY PACIFIC HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL RACES 2004 - TRACKWORK NOTES
CATHAY PACIFIC HONG KONG CUP (Gr.1-2000m)
Christophe Soumillion was on hand to ride Latice, his mount in Sunday's CX Hong Kong Cup. The filly worked on the turf track at Sha Tin with fellow French CXHKIR raiders Touch of Land and Vallee Enchantee.
Latice settled in behind the other two and breezed very much within herself. "She feels very good," reported Soumillion later. "She was unlucky in the Arc. She finished seventh but had no run and should have been a lot closer - I think she will be on Sunday."
Latice's trainer Jean-Marie Beguigne echoed the Belgian rider's sentiments. "She has travelled well, she's at the same weight and she looks well. She will run her race on Sunday. I know it's a strong field but I have plenty of grounds for optimism. She won the Prix de Diane [French Oaks, Gr.1-2100m] after all," he said.
Irish Cup challenger, the Jim Bolger-trained Alexander Goldrun, was another seen to good effect on the Sha Tin turf. The filly was given a lead in her turf work by one of Germany's Vase hopes Senex, and her trainer was delighted with what he saw. "That went perfectly, just what I wanted," he said, after his filly completed her final two furlongs in 22.1 seconds. "She's in good form, and it's possible she has improved since her last run [when she won the Gr.1 Prix de l'Opera]."
French trainer Henri-Alex Pantall was also happy with the Gr.2 Prix Dollar winner Touch of Land after his horse had worked in the company of Latice and Vallee Enchantee over 1200 metres, with all three going well within themselves.
"The horse is very well, and this course should suit him. The trip and the ground should be perfect."
The third French challenger, the Andre Fabre-trained, Walkamia continued her preparations for Sunday with a regulation gallop on the all weather track, going a half mile in a leisurely 56 .4 sec.
Ballydoyle's representative Pat Keating said Powerscourt (ridden by Seamus Heffernan) has continued to make progress since his run when tenth in the Japan Cup on November 28.
Speaking from Ireland, trainer Aidan O'Brien discussed Sunday's race tactics for his Breeders' Cup Turf third. "I'd imagine we would probably wait with him; take our time a little bit more, hopefully produce him late because he has the speed to get there. When he gets there he can be a little bit idle; he is inclined to wait on other horses," he said.
"He is a horse with loads of class, loads of speed and he is probably at his best in a fast-run mile and a quarter."
Australian hope Fields Of Omagh had only a light workout on the dirt this morning after his strong gallop on the grass yesterday when the fast time he returned shocked his trainer Tony McEvoy.
"I couldn't believe he went as quick as the official times showed. If he runs up to that work on Sunday he's going to be right in the thick of it."
Japan's Dance In The Mood cantered for one lap on all-weather track under her regular exercise rider Naruhito Kasai. "She sometimes looks around and does not concentrate on her work-out when she is alone," said travelling head lad Tsukasa Uemizu from owners, Shadai Farm. "But she is in good form and will have a fast piece of work tomorrow morning. Jockey Olivier Peslier does not ride on her until race day."
Gary Tanaka's major Cup hope Rakti once again looked very keen to get on with things, taking a strong hold as he cantered on the all weather surface.
Germany's Cup challenger Soldier Hollow had his big race jockey William Mongil clocking 24.0 sec for the final 400m on the all-weather, while the David Hayes-trained Cup pair of Ain't Here and Elegant Fashion did a handy 1200m workout on the all-weather to the satisfaction of their trainer.
Of the former, Hayes said: "I think he is capable of winning but there are too many unknown factors to enable you to be confident. But it's safe to say that I'm confident."
Elegant Fashion, third in this race in 2003, was also the subject of a positive bulletin. "She had no luck in Australia but showed she was still in peak form last in the International Mile Trial. That's as good as a 1600m as she has ever run here and I'm pretty confident she will be competitive as she always is in these races," said Hayes.
Elegant Fashion has tackled three international races in HK and has yet to finish out of the money.
CATHAY PACIFIC HONG KONG MILE (Gr.1-1600m)
The quickest times of the morning posted by CXHK Mile contenders came from local hopes, Grand Zulu, The Duke and Oriental Magic (ex. Kalaman).
John Size, who trains Australian Gr.1 winner Grand Zulu, who clocked 24.5 sec for the final 400m of the all-weather on Wednesday morning, said: "We're throwing him into a difficult race, it's a strong race but we think that he is up to it and we are hoping that will perform well. His first run here [when a nose second carrying second top weight in the 1400m Chevalier Cup on November 28] was very good, very encouraging.
"We didn't know how he would adapt to Hong Kong, or how quickly he would make his presence felt. But as he trained well, we thought that it was well worth our trying him in an international race."
Oriental Magic went home in a sharp 22.4 sec for jockey Gerald Mosse on the all-weather, while Robbie Fradd steered The Duke up the same stretch in 23.2 sec.
"He felt really well and he is well worth his chance in the Mile, particularly after his win the International Mile Trial last time. He's such a tough horse. He'll give me everything on the day, that's for sure," said Fradd.
Antonius Pius, under work rider Pat Lillis, only cantered on the sand and looked well with no problems reported from Ballydoyle foreman, Pat Keating. The classy three-year-old has had his critics this year, but trainer Aidan O'Brien is looking forward to Sunday's race.
"We learned a lot about him in America [when second in the Breeders' Cup Mile]. We probably learned more about him there than we have all year. If we have him right on the day, it is very possible that the best is yet to be come," O'Brien said.
Champion JRA Sprinter-Miler Durandal, likely to be very prominent in the betting on Sunday, was in good form as he cantered on the dirt track this morning. Said travelling head lad Hirokazu Wada: "He often needs company in new surroundings and he can be quite difficult. However, he has given us no problems this time and his condition is as good as I could have hoped for."
The other Japanese CXHK Mile contender, Telegnosis appears ready for a top performance on Sunday. He has been a light canter for one lap over the dirt track under his regular exercise rider Yoshihiro Kishi, who said: "I am happy with his condition. He had a good look at the big video screen inside the track, but he is used to it now."
The in-form Mile hope from France, Valentino, went half-speed on the dirt and trainer Alain de Royer Dupre is expected to be at the course later this week to supervise a faster piece of work.
CATHAY PACIFIC HONG KONG SPRINT (Gr.1-1000m)
American sprinter Battle Won earned a glowing report from jockey Kieren Fallon who rode the horse for the time this morning.
"He felt great," Fallon enthused after Battle Won galloped on the all-weather track, covering the last 400m in 26.4 sec, "and what I really liked was the way he pulled up. Even though he had worked he had a little buck as we eased down. I'm very happy to be riding him."
"I never moved on him. I just let him breeze along and he really stretched out well. He's a serious horse," he said.
Australian sprinter Yell was clearly the fastest on the track this morning completing the last 400m of his gallop on the course proper in a sizzling 21.3 sec.
"He needed that just to clean him up,' said trainer John Hawkes, "he was lovely and balanced in his work, head down, fluent and focused. He looks terrific and everything seems to be in order."
Hawkes acknowledges that the unbeaten, defending champion Silent Witness poses a huge obstacle but is not afraid to take him on. "You can never let one horse worry you. He's obviously a great sprinter but they can all have a bad day or just be 10 per cent off their game and then you never know what might happen," he said.
Trainer Clive Brittain had his first opportunity to see his Hong Kong Sprint runner Var in action this morning.
'I am thrilled with Var," he reported of his American import. "He is very settled, which is a relief as I was worried before we came how he would cope coming back to track training."
Var has been a revelation since joining Brittain from the USA, highlighted by his win in October of the Gr.1 Prix de l'Abbaye.
"We were very lucky to get a made horse, he has loved the variety that we can give him in his training regime at home. The relaxed atmosphere of our yard has helped, I think. He has coped remarkably returning to this sort of environment. His win in the Abbaye was very impressive, the time he clocked was 55 seconds from a bad draw," Brittain added.
Another of Britain's four Hong Kong Sprint challengers The Tatling has yet to be sighted on the track at Sha Tin but his trainer Milton Bradley was on hand to report his gelding in very good shape.
"He did a lot of work before he came so he's just been in the trotting ring since he arrived. He does three quarters of an hour in the morning and then comes out and walks for half an hour again in the afternoon.
"He flew very well. His temperature was perfect when he landed but the next morning it was 104. Luckily within twelve hours it was down to 102 and within 24 hours it was back to normal. The Jockey Club vets took blood and reported back to me that it was spot on this morning.
"On Friday he will sprint sharply over four hundred meters and that is it. Ryan Moore rides him and he is a jockey I think a lot of, I do believe he will Champion Jockey in England one day."
The Tatling was seventh here last year. He missed the break and when he started to make progress the door shut on him. We are very hopeful he can go a lot closer than last year here."
Top Macau sprinter Natural Blitz who has won ten of his fourteen starts since arriving from Australia, worked up the turf straight this morning under John Didham. He clocked a time over the last four hundred meters of 23.2 sec.
Sunningdale who beat likely CXHK Mile favourite Durandal in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen (Gr.1-1200m) this spring was given an easy canter for one lap under exercise rider Takaeshi Setoguchi.
"He is eating up better than he is in Japan," said a happy Setoguchi, "his condition suggests he is ready for the race. Jockey Yuichi Fukunaga gives him a piece of fast work in the stretch tomorrow."
Calstone Light O, track-record holder for 1000m at Niigata, cantered on the dirt course. Trainer Hiroyuki Oneda commented: "He sometimes hangs out, so I prefer the inside draw. But if he gets a smooth start, the draw will not matter."
Osterhase, from Ireland, breezed down the turf in 25.6 sec leaving connections satisfied, while Pivotal Point, out to improve on a very poor British record in this race - no British runner has placed in five attempts - pleased trainer Peter Makin with an easy all-weather canter.
"He travelled out like a old pro and has not left an oat since he has been here," Makin said. "I think he is still improving; Pivotal's progeny do. His last run was his best when he beat some really good horses by three lengths or more in the Diadem Stakes (Gr.2-1200m) at Ascot last time. The strong pace will suit. He loves to have something to aim at and I am not worried about the opposition, apart, perhaps, from Silent Witness and Calstone Light O.
Makin, a modest man, who never usually shouts from the rooftops, is genuinely bullish about his horse: "We'll do a bit with him on Friday but nothing very much - just a blow out as he is perfectly fit. I think he will run seriously well."
CATHAY PACIFIC HONG KONG VASE (Gr.1-2400m)
Trainer Elie Lellouche was at Sha Tin to witness 2003 Vase heroine, Vallee Enchantee, on the turf in the company of Touch Of Land and Latice, and was hopeful that Alec Wildenstein's filly can defend her crown on Sunday.
"I'm very happy with her, no problems thankfully. This has been her end of year target all along. We know she likes the track and the ground here, so I am hopeful she'll go well again on Sunday," said Lellouche.
German raider Simonas performed light work on the all-weather and was described as "a seriously good horse" by Sunday's rider, Kieren Fallon.
"He ran a great race in the Canadian International [when second]," reported Fallon. "I had never sat on the horse before and I went too soon in the race and he pulled up on me. I'm not saying I could have won but I definitely would have given Frankie Dettori a harder time on Sulamani had I held on to him for longer. If Sulamani were here, he would start a short-priced favourite, so on that you would have to fancy my horse, having finished such a good second to him," he added.
Senex was given a nudge by William Mongil to complete a 400m turf gallop home in 23.9 sec. "Senex is a tough horse. He's a real fighter. He feels well and likes the track," said his jockey.
Clive Brittain was on hand to cast his experienced eye over CXHK Vase challenger, Warrsan, third in this race in 2003, but disappointing last time in the Japan Cup.
"Warrsan cantered under his regular work rider Des Reap who is very happy with him. He has done exceptionally well since arriving here," said Brittain.
"Nothing has come out to tell us why he ran so disappointingly in Japan, so I am putting it down to a very unfavourable wide draw. It was a huge factor. He was never able to settle into a nice position or get into a rhythm in the race. I wasn't happy even when he went down the backstretch as although he moved up a few places he was always being pushed.
"His weight is pretty good and he has eaten well. I have no worries until the stalls open! I am very pleased to have Seb Sanders riding him. He has won on him, which makes a difference. He will have a sit on him before Sunday but he won't be doing more than a canter around as he is fit having run just two weeks ago."
British runner Imperial Dancer, Sweet Stream, Polish Summer, third in this race last year and attempting a third Vase run, and Brian Boru all had an easy time of things on the all-weather.
Trainer of the latter, Aidan O'Brien, is hopeful a strong gallop materialises in the 2400m event: "Brian Boru has plenty of speed but he wants horses to go a good solid pace in front of him - that's when he is at his best, when he can find himself and come home really well. The [Sha Tin] straight should suit. It takes him time to get into gear and if he gets a clear run he should run a big race."
Hong Kong runners Beethoven (Gerald Mosse) and Super Kid clocked 24.3 and 25.5 for the final 400m on the dirt.
Super Kid's trainer John Size said: "I'm sure he will run well, but some of the European horses are seasoned and strong and have been racing in have been in tough 2400m races and they might an edge as they are match fit at this distance. With the way the programme is here, Hong Kong horses for the Vase don't have an advantage. Also, I think he is a much better horse in the New Year when it starts to rain - he prefers a slower track."
For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink