A DISTINCT air of confidence mixed with a degree of guarded optimism pervaded the connections of the leading protagonists for this Sunday’s Audemars Piguet QEII Cup and Champions Mile after the barrier draws were revealed for the international Gr.1 double header.

Presvis, for example, the defending champion of APQEII Cup, is said to be in “mint condition” and “as good as last year” according to Charlie Henson, travelling head lad to trainer Luca Cumani, having this week touched down from Dubai.

“His position in barrier six doesn’t pose any trouble as everyone knows he is a hold-up horse. It’s also good that we have Ryan Moore back on board. Ryan knows him best. He gets the best tune out of him. The competition is probably tougher this year but there is no reason why he can’t win it again,” Henson surmised.

Trainer John Moore is responsible for some of the principal opposition in the form of Sha Tin’s 2000m specialist, Collection, and Viva Pataca, winner of this race in 2007 and runner-up to Presvis a year back.

“Both of mine could finish one-two - they are that well. Collection has drawn eight and ‘Viva’ is in seven and that’s not a problem for either. Their jockeys will be able to get cover and produce them with their best runs in the straight,” said Moore.

With no confirmed leader among the nine starters, there appears a shortage genuine pace in the HK$14 million showcase. One of those likely to race at least prominently will be Lizard’s Desire, so close when second in the Dubai World Cup a month ago, drawn in gate two.

“We certainly won’t want to lead, but from that barrier I suppose we will be handy with so many other runners preferring to race further back. If the pace is steady, I guess that should work to our advantage,” said Steven Jell, assistant to Mike de Kock.

Elsewhere, the first two past the post in the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby six weeks ago, can be expected to position midfield or slightly better.

“From gate four, I’d say Super Satin will settle in fourth or fifth,” trainer Caspar Fownes predicted.

“It’s tough to ask a Derby winner to step up again and if we finish within two lengths or so of the winner, I’d be happy.”

Derby winning jockey Douglas Whyte partially subscribed to latter theory, adding: “He might be about six months off a win at this sort of level, but you certainly couldn’t rule him out. I worked him this morning and he felt great. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise if he’s in the money.”

Super Pistachio, the Derby runner-up, the ever-reliable Mr Medici and the Japanese raider Never Bouchon are also likely to adopt midfield-or-better positions, their trainers said.

A decent pace is much likelier to eventuate in the Champions Mile with trainer Tony Cruz’s usual frontrunner, Egyptian Ra, seeming destined to press on from the widest gate 12 with stable mate Beauty Flash and last year’s shock victor, Sight Winner, expected to be at close quarters.

Good Ba Ba, the winner of this race in 2008, is said to have overcome his exertions in Dubai last month but Derek Cruz indicated his allocated stall on the rails was not ideal.

“He’s better when he can come around horses at the top of the straight but he’ll still be ridden back as usual,” Cruz said.

Fair Trade has always been considered as an international prospect by Caspar Fownes although the reigning champion trainer hinted that international glory might be put on hold for the time being after a slightly interrupted preparation of late.

“He hasn’t had any luck with the barrier again either. That’s three wide gates in a row for him. I suppose he’ll be in the back four in the run and trying to hit the line strongly. He will be a fighting chance for the international races in December with any luck. But at this stage, I’d settle for a finish in the top four,” Fownes remarked.

Dao Dao has impressed this week in trackwork although trainer Michael Hawkes said he “might have preferred a barrier a little more to the inside than ten” in his quest to better his close third in this race a year ago.

“He will travel just behind the pace and he will be thereabouts in the finish again,” Hawkes added.

Trainers Danny Shum (Thumbs Up) and Paul O’Sullivan (Fellowship) both anticipate similar slots around midfield or slightly further back for their major players, both HK Gr.1 winners at the distance, and the same applies to the South African runner, Imbongi.

Of the last-named, assistant trainer Steven Jell remarked: “He’s usually fairly handy in the run and he’ll have no trouble getting a decent spot from that stall. Imbongi is well, much better than when he ran midfield here last year. It was a slowly run race on a wet track. That didn’t suit him.”

Brave Kid drew gate four in his bid to make a Hong Kong record of seven wins in a season although John Size said his four-year-old “might not be up to this sort of company just yet” whereas John Moore described Able One, winner here in 2007, as being in “exemplary” form at present.

“I couldn’t be happier with Able One and he’ll be in the shake-up, but I reckon the ones to beat are Good Ba Ba and Fellowship,” Moore suggested.



Join Us on Facebook

Racing News

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Getaway & Go Racing &
Day at the Races FREE Ratings
BN: 55127167

Login Form