THERE were mixed results for Australia’s three representatives in Sunday’s $1.8 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Sprint at today’s barrier draw at Sha Tin racecourse.

While the connections of Apache Cat (barrier 9) and Scenic Blast (3) were satisfied, Grahame Begg, trainer of the highly fancied All Silent, who drew the outside of the field of 14, said he would have preferred a “softer” draw.

“I know he usually gets back in his races, but now we have no option and he has never been up against a field of this calibre before,” Begg said.

Local champion and 2007 winner Sacred Kingdom (7) is the current favourite at 11/4 with London-based bookmaker William Hill ahead of All Silent at 7/2.

Scenic Blast, Australia’s reigning Horse of the Year, has eased slightly from 6/1 to 7/1 and Apache Cat, who was favourite when he finished third in the race last year, is an 8/1 chance.

Scenic Blast stands to collect a $US1 million bonus on Sunday if he can win his third Global Sprint Challenge race of the season.

Trainer Danny Morton said although Scenic Blast had had his share of problems in recent months, he believed the five-year-old was now in as good as shape as when he won the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m) at the Royal Ascot carnival in June.

“I would have liked to have started him in the Sprint Trial at Sha Tin a couple of weeks back but it didn’t really fit in with his preparation,” he said.

Morton rode Scenic Blast in an easy work-out on the all-weather track at Sha Tin this morning and said he would have a gallop on the course proper tomorrow (Friday).

All Silent also worked on the all-weather track while Apache Cat, ridden by Danielle Ellet, looked a picture of fitness when he galloped on the course proper this morning.

Trainer Greg Eurell said Apache Cat had freshened up really well since his last start fourth behind All Silent in the Patinack Farm Classic at Flemington and he believed the seven-year-old was in better shape than at this stage last year.

Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, CEO of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, said at the barrier draw that he believed the Hong Kong Sprint field, which includes nine individual group 1 winners, was the best assembled anywhere in the world in the past 20 years.


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