NOT sure if horses are eligible for Cathay Pacific's Asia Miles program but if so then Dao Dao has certainly chalked up some points in the past three years. Perhaps his connections should see if they can redeem them!

The six-year-old gelding has undertaken his third trip from Sydney to Hong Kong to contest Sunday’s Champions Mile at Sha Tin for the third year running, having finished 8th in 2008 and third, beaten only a head, last year.

His travelling saga began in 2007 when he was shipped to Hong Kong to be trained by John Size after having trialed and raced successfully in Sydney in December 2006 and January 2007.

He won four races at Sha Tin in 2007 and 2008 but a major prize eluded him and it was back to Sydney to continue his racing career under John Hawkes in 2009.

A resurgence in his form saw him back last year for April's feature mile race and he was arguably unlucky behind Sight Winner and Egyptian Ra.

We're really looking forward to having another crack at the race. He's certainly accustomed to the flying, he's in terrific shape and his recent form has been very solid,” said co-trainer John Hawkes who operates in partnership with his sons Michael and Wayne.

Dao Dao came into the Champions Mile last year off a Listed race win. This year he's not won in four preparatory runs but they've been at Group 1 and Group 2 level and there's little doubt his form is stronger than 12 months ago.

He has run seconds, in the Expressway Stakes and George Ryder Stakes, behind the Chris Waller trained stablemates Rangirangdoo and Danleigh who would both be rated in the top five 1400m-1600m horses in Australia.

He also ran second in the Futurity Stakes, the first leg of the Asian Mile Challenge, behind Typhoon Tracy, the highest rated mare in Australia.

Dao Dao boasts seven wins and eight placings from 18 starts for earning of more than $AUD1.1 million in stakes.

GLOBETROTTING PRESVIS BACK TO DEFEND QEII CROWN

WHEN Presvis came from last to first to run down Viva Pataca in the 2009 Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup, he was in a rich vein of form that saw him rated as one of the hottest horses on the international circuit at that time.

His victory at Sha Tin followed his emergence from high class handicapper in 2008 to international superstar in 2009, thanks to back to back wins in Dubai, followed by a second place finish to Gladiatorus in the Dubai Duty Free on Dubai World Cup night.

Following his APQEII victory, Presvis ended his early season campaign with the narrowest of defeats in the SAI Cup at Kranji in May, just failing to nail Gloria De Campeao on the line – the very same horse that popped up in Dubai to win the Dubai World Cup at Meydan last month.

Taken back to England for a long rest afterwards, Presvis did not see a racecourse until November when running second to the useful Tranquil Tiger on his reappearance.

Next stop was Hong Kong again, where Presvis, still short of his very peak, according to his trainer was a running on third behind Vision D’Etat in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup, a run that took his career earnings through the £2 million barrier.

The globetrotting Presvis then headed for Dubai once more, to the Carnival and a crack at either the Dubai Duty Free on turf, or the big one – the US$10,000,000 Dubai World Cup itself on Meydan’s synthetic ‘tapeta’ surface.

A run on the tapeta at Meydan in which he was beaten seven lengths in a slowly run three-horse race, was followed with a win over Godolphin’s Alexandros on the turf, a sequence that decided Cumani to target the turf race once again.

“We gave him a race on both surfaces to help us decide where to go, and his runs suggested he was more at home on the turf,” said the trainer.

A huge run was expected from Presvis, with jockey Christophe Lemaire deputising for Ryan Moore who was riding for the Sir Michael Stoute yard, his retaining stable. But Presvis failed to get in a blow, and finished a disappointing 11th of 16.

Cumani remains philosophical about that last run.  “He always starts slowly, and he was drawn very wide again.  You need a lot of luck in running to overcome those factors, and in the race he had a wall of horses in front of him, and nowhere to go. Christophe accepted the situation and he didn’t have a hard race.”

Does Cumani harbor any doubts as to whether the six-year-old Presviss retains all his old ability?

“Absolutely none,” he declares, “he showed he was as good as ever in his race before the Dubai Duty Free, and he was ready to run that night too, if the gaps had come.”

“With his style of racing, he’s always going to need some luck in running. We’ve got Collection to beat, based on the evidence of the Hong Kong Cup last December, but he’s been in good form in Dubai since his last start. He’ll do a final piece of work there on Sunday, and then he’ll fly to Hong Kong on Monday.”

No back number, expect the champion to mount a brave defense of his APQEII crown.

CHINCHON GIVES FRENCH ANOTHER HOPE OF VICTORY AT SHA TIN

IGNORING French-trained challengers at Hong Kong’s showpiece international meetings has proved an expensive hobby, and Chantilly trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias is more than a little optimistic that it will be his turn in the sunshine when Chinchon competes for the APQE II Cup on Sunday.

Last December trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre’s Daryakana’s win in the Vase and Eric Libaud’s strike with Vision D’Etat in the Cup resulted in a memorable double for the French invasion. Laffon-Parias fields France’s only representative on Sunday week and sounds in no mood to let his adopted country down.

Why should Chinchon do better than in last year’s Sha Tin spectacular, beaten just less than 2 lengths in fourth to Presvis, who of course returns to defend his APQE II Cup crown? The trainer gives his reasons:

“To go for a race like the QEII Cup with a four-year-old is a little soon. We now have a more relaxed horse and one who has certainly improved physically since last year. In fact he’s simply a better horse,” insists the 46-year-old Spanish-born-trainer who was five times champion amateur rider in his own country before he left for the richer pickings and much higher status of French racing in general, and its training headquarters at Chantilly in particular.

“Chinchon ran quite a good race at Sha Tin in 2009, and with more luck he might have been third. “ Perhaps the trainer is downplaying the achievement of his horse who was having his first adventure away from France, and who was to gain more overseas experience when he shipped westwards to compete in the Grade One Man O’War Stakes at Belmont Park in July, again finishing a strong fourth.

In fact Laffon-Parias points out that Chinchon refuses to run a bad race, whatever the venue or the conditions, and his racing record confirms this unusual fact. In 16 starts the horse has only once finished out of the first four, and that was when fifth over 2100m in the G1 Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly, ironically easily the best performance of his three-year-old career on any measure of ratings.

What was frustrating for the trainer was that Chinchon, whom he not only trains but also bred, went nine races and sixteen months without actually winning, prompting Laffon-Parias to joke after the horse did finally finish ahead in a G3 at Maisons-Laffitte in Paris last September. “What’s happened? This horse never wins!”

In fact that arrival in the winners’ circle didn’t especially excite Laffon-Parias.  “Chinchon had a tough year and was well past his best that day. We then stopped his season early with his five-year-old career in our thoughts.”

The break worked wonders as Chinchon accelerated clear to thrash his rivals in March’s Prix Exbury, the Saint-Cloud G3 race which is notable for being the first Group race of the European season. Over the APQE II Cup distance of 2000m he had only finished third in the same race last year, another indication that Chinchon is on the improve, while Laffon-Parias is keen to point out that the form of the Prix Exbury has been enhanced by some subsequent performances on the Paris tracks this week.

 

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