DEFENDING CHAMPIONS SHARE TOP-BILLINT IN INTERNATIONAL TRIALS

PLACES in the Turf World Championships are the prize in Sunday’s double header of the Cathay Pacific International Mile and Sprint Trials and the competition is fierce.

There are six international Group 1 winners spread across the two races and three Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Race defending champions among them, namely Good Ba Ba, Eagle Mountain and Inspiration.

Eagle Mountain is making his first start since winning the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup last December after sustaining an injury to a suspensory ligament at the start of the year.

Steven Jell, representing trainer Mike de Kock, said the five-year-old had travelled well to Hong Kong and had been working nicely for jockey Kevin Shea, but that he would benefit for the outing.

“He can go well fresh and he won first up in England last year after a long layoff but he’s still not 100 per cent. We have left a little bit to work with. We’re not quite expecting he’ll win. We just want a good run to set him up for the Cup three weeks later,” Jell said.

Good Ba Ba has used this race for the past two years as a platform to winning the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile in December. Last year he ran third in this key trial and the year before he won it.

“I wasn’t at all disappointed when he finished in midfield first up [in the Mission Hills Sha Tin Trophy] and his work since has been spot-on. I’m on him myself most mornings and his work for Olivier Doleuze on the turf was very good. He will be thereabouts again,” trainer Derek Cruz predicted.

Former Champions Mile winner Able One chased home Good Ba Ba in the CXHK Mile a year ago on his second outing of the season and this time around trainer John Moore expects another forward showing.

“He found the 1200m on the sharp side for his seasonal debut and was tapped for a turn of foot at the top of the straight but he has come on a bundle since then. He has had a lot of setbacks in his career but he looks pretty good at the moment. Whatever he does on Sunday he’ll improve on for next month,” Moore remarked.

Two years ago Sacred Kingdom won the Cathay Pacific International Sprint Trial in track record time and while trainer Ricky Yiu is not anticipating such a stunning prep this time, he believes the world’s joint top-rated sprinter “should at least place.”

“He’s a pretty happy horse now. Everyone knows that he has had foot problems but just the same everybody saw how good he was in his barrier trial last week and he hasn’t missed any work since,” Yiu said.

“He’s about 90 per cent and there is nothing like a race to bring a horse on, but he has the class to be in the money, he has decent gate in six and it’s a big help that we have Brett Prebble riding as he is the hottest jockey in town right now.”

As is so often the case nowadays, John Moore is dominant in a feature race with four runners. Retained jockey Darren Beadman has elected to ride Happy Zero in a bid to shake an unwanted tag of picking the wrong horse in a feature race.

“His trial last week was good and he pulled up very clean-winded. He’s not yet 100 per cent, I didn’t want him to peak for this race. It’s all about December but having said that he has drawn very well in gate four and Happy Zero will be one of the main runners to beat,” Moore said.

“Elsewhere, Inspiration is in top form. Any mistakes by the favourite Sacred Kingdom or Happy Zero and he will take full advantage. One World is a model of consistency but he might just lack the top grade ability to win this race. But I can’t give Dim Sum much chance from the gate,” he concluded.

 

HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB MEDIA RELEASE

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