Most horses were just ticking over in final preparations for the 2013 Longines Hong Kong International Races, but it was the Melbourne Cup and Hong Kong Vase winner Dunaden who did some significant work, and impressed us. Working 1,200 metres on the all-weather, his times were far from extraordinary, but it was the way the well-traveled entire moved. Off the elbow in the shorter stretch of the inside course at Sha Tin, Dunaden percolated knowing he was in the lane as if a light bulb went off, reminding him this was the important part of the running. Still, trainer Mikel Delzangles recognized the challenge ahead, as reported by the Hong Kong Jockey Club. “My concern in coming here was that it might come a bit soon for him after his last run in the Japan Cup, which will have been only two weeks before Sunday. While that is still a slight concern, I am as happy as I could be with his general well being, so I hope all goes well on Sunday, but we’ll find out in the race.”
Both he and longtime rival Red Cadeaux are in such fine fettle, a testament to their versatility and the fine team both trainers have assembled to keep these old boys going.
Little Mike, the American hope in the Longines Hong Kong Cup (G1) could not be doing better according to his connections, and seems well worth a punt at a price. Trainer Dale Romans was overwhelmingly happy with the post draw for the son of now Saudi-based stallion Spanish Steps, just outside other main speed Tokei Halo. It’s possible that this accomplished gelding can see out the running and keep them at bay.
Our full analysis with tips for all four races is coming soon. Below, the official trackwork notes from the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
LONGINES Hong Kong International Races Friday track notes
Slade Power popped out of the gates at the 1000m start this morning to sharpen the Irish colt ahead of his assignment in the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint. Otherwise it was a routine morning on the track, where The Fugue slipped out on to the turf course ahead of the rest for a steady solo spin, and fellow Vase contender Galileo Rock (turf) appeared to move well.
LONGINES Hong Kong Vase
ASUKA KURICHAN (JPN)
Went an easy 1200m on the all-weather in 1m 28.6s (splits: 31.8, 30.8, 26.0)
Naosuke Sugai, trainer, said: “He is in a perfect condition. It is just about the same condition as when he won his last race and he feels very bright. He understands the race comes soon. I do not ride him but I can really feel his energy and he is full of spirit. This morning I told the rider not to move too fast and not to make him too tense. The horse knows his task. He is very relaxed but has changed into a top gear mentally. I am very happy with him.”
Worked 1200m on the all-weather under Zac Purton in 1m 25.5s (splits: 29.8, 27.7, 28.0).
Trainer John Moore said: “Dominant has a tough task from gate 14.”
Worked 1200m on the all-weather and quickened up the last 200m for 1m 24.3s (splits: 28.6, 28.4, 27.3).
Trainer Mikel Delzangles watched Dunaden gallop on the all weather, after which he said: “My concern in coming here was that it might come a bit soon for him after his last run in the Japan Cup, which will have been only two weeks before Sunday. While that is still a slight concern, I am as happy as I could be with his general well being, so I hope all goes well on Sunday, but we’ll find out in the race.”
Worked 1200m on the all-weather track in 1m 25.6s (splits: 34.0, 28.4, 23.2).
Feuerblitz limbered up on the all-weather.
Trainer Michael Figge is looking forward to Sunday’s race: “I am confident that he is 100 percent right now, and that he will give a good account of himself. It’s a tough race of course, and I would be happy were he to finish fourth, but it’s a horse race and anything can happen, so you never know.”
GALILEO ROCK (IRE)
Galloped 800m on the turf in 54.5s (splits: 30.1, 24.4).
Galloped 1200m on the all-weather under Brett Prebble in 1m 28.3s (splits: 33.5, 31.8, 23.0)
MOUNT ATHOS (GB)
The Melbourne Cup third looked bright as he cantered on the all-weather.
Trainer Luca Cumani’s assistant Charlie Henson said: “He did have a hard race in Melbourne but there’s every indication now that he’s come through that really well, and after Melbourne we now know we have options with him tactically.”
Worked a steady 1200m on the all-weather under Andrasch Starke in 1m 38.8s (splits: 31.0, 34.0, 33.8).
Trainer Peter Schiergen said of his Grosser Preis von Berlin winner: “She is in good form and everything has gone well. The key to her is a good pace and firm ground, you can forget her last run at Ascot where it was soft, and in Istanbul the pace was only ordinary. I hope there is a good pace, but my jockey (Starke) knows her and if he has to go forward then he will.”
RED CADEAUX (GB)
Cantered on the turf track under his usual work rider.
Trainer Ed Dunlop inspected the horse for the first time this week and said: ”He’s in good order. We were happy to miss the Japan Cup this year after he had a tough run in the Melbourne Cup, which wasn’t the case the year before. He’s recovered from that race now and has done well here. The Fugue’s going to be very hard to beat but the old boy (Red Cadeaux) will run well and it would be nice if we could go back-to-back here.” Dunlop added that the seven-year-old would begin his 2014 racing year in either Sydney or Dubai.
Gerald Mosse, jockey, said: “He looks very well – he looks fantastic so we will see.”
Went 1200m on the all-weather in 1m 26.6s (splits; 33.1, 28.8, 24.7).
Trainer Andreas Wohler said of his Munich Group 1 winner and Canadian International third: “He has had a good year, but a long one. Yet every time I think he’s needed a break he bounces back in a couple of days and tells me he is ready for more. Everything has gone well out here, and while The Fugue is probably the best horse in the race, the others are pretty evenly matched, so it’s really all about the race, and how it is run, and what sort of trip we get.”
THE FUGUE (GB)
Went a gentle lap of the turf track under William Buick and breezed 400m in an easy 29.1s.
Simon Marsh, racing manager to the owner, Lord Lloyd-Webber, commented: “She looks very well. She did her final piece of work at Newmarket last Friday, and she’s race fit, so she won’t be doing much here.”
LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint
Jockey Steve Drowne was happy with Jwala after he partnered the filly in a canter on the all-weather.
Drowne said: “She’s very settled right now and has a good attitude. We can’t do anything about the gate (14) but she has plenty of early pace which you can’t say about all European sprinters.”
LORD KANALOA (JPN)
Exercised on the all-weather and went through 400m in 27.3s.
Shogo Yasuda, assistant trainer, said: “He has now switched on. He has a great mood this morning and I feel his energy is getting ready for the big game. He has a good gait and moved very flexibly. I am sure he is in very good form. His work has been perfect up to now. We will work him on turf again tomorrow morning.”
SOLE POWER (IRE)
Worked 800m on the turf in 53.8s (splits: 31.7, 22.1)
TIME AFTER TIME (HK)
Gerald Mosse, jockey, said: “He changed stables so that takes time to settle and progress but Chris (So) is doing an amazing job. He’s coming along very well. It’s only his second run of the season against tough opposition, it’s a difficult draw, but we will just deal with that.”
LONGINES Hong Kong Mile
DAN EXCEL (HK)
Worked 1200m on the all-weather under Weichong Marwing in 1m 24.9s (splits: 31.5, 28.1, 25.3).
Trainer John Moore said: “He went out this morning and ran a good time and came home in 12.55s for the last 200m. Marwing reported that he pulled up very clean winded and he was very happy with the work, even though he’s going into the race one run short – there’s still going to be a tiny bit of doubt about him being 100 percent. He’s a horse that improves as the season goes on.”
Galloped 1200m on the all-weather under Olivier Doleuze in 1m 25.2s (splits: 31.9, 28.7, 24.6).
GORDON LORD BYRON (IRE)
Easy work on the all-weather and went 400m in 29s.
HELENE SPIRIT (HK)
Jockey Gerald Mosse said: “I haven’t sat on him since his last run, but he looks beautiful, he’s in good shape and he should run well. He will be up on the pace, that’s the way to ride him and we’re not going to change that. I don’t know who will run faster, but we will see. He’s very consistent and he’s in very good form – that’s very important on this day.”
Cantered on the all-weather.
Stable manager Troy Corstens said his confidence was growing about the grey’s prospects: “He’s getting better and better every day here. I’d say he’s close to spot on and now it’s just a question of whether he’s good enough but we do have a great jockey (Damien Oliver) and a good draw.
“The horse has well and truly recovered from the slight setback which forced us to scratch him during Melbourne Cup week and this has been his target race since he came back into work so it’s not an afterthought. Maybe a few more days here for him would have been ideal but he’s well and the track will suit him. Now we just hope for some luck.”
MOONLIGHT CLOUD (FR)
Worked 800m on the all-weather in 49.9s (25.3, 24.6)
Trainer Freddy Head said: “She’s in very good shape after settling in beautifully. She’s done all that we wanted of her on the track here. She goes to the mile but that’s fine for her now, I think. In the early days she raced too keenly but now she settles well in her races.
“The trip won’t be a problem but Sky Lantern might be. I think she’s the one to beat but I’m very happy with my filly. She’s kept improving all the time since we took her to Ascot and she ran so well behind Black Caviar.
“I am very happy especially as she seems really happy. She’s a clever mare and she’s saving herself. Of course there remains a question mark over the travelling as she ran badly the only time she travelled before – to Santa Anita – and we won’t know for sure about that until Sunday.”
PACKING WHIZ (HK)
Worked 800m on the all-weather in 58.0s (31.0, 27.0).
SKY LANTERN (GB)
Cantered on the turf under Richard Hughes and eased through 400m in 27.3s.
LONGINES Hong Kong Cup
AKEED MOFEED (HK)
Worked over 1200m on the all-weather under Douglas Whyte in 1m 22.1s (splits: 30.3, 26.9, 24.9).
BLAZING SPEED (HK)
Gerald Mosse, jockey, said: “He’s an interesting ride. He has a low rating but I think he can surprise everybody because I like him a lot. He has a good draw and it’s going to be interesting to see how he runs over the extra distance. I thought he was a bit more an 1800m horse than a 2000m horse but when he’s ridden a bit patiently he’s always come home strong. I’ve never touched the horse before so Tony will tell me.”
CIRRUS DES AIGLES (FR)
The grand campaigner is in Hong Kong for the fifth time and Sunday’s Cup will be his fourth International run (he missed last year through injury on race eve). He’s yet to win in Hong Kong but trainer Corine Barande-Barbe is quietly confident he will produce his best this time.
She said: “He will run his race this year, I’m sure of that. The signs have been good with him on the track and I think now that we understand everything that is required here, maybe this will help him win. He’s really very well.
“I want this. I want him to show here in Hong Kong what he can really do. It’s not about redemption. Redemption implies guilt and he is guilty of nothing, this horse, he’s been so wonderful. Perhaps you might say it’s unfinished business.”
Worked 800m on the all-weather in 57.4 (splits: 32.0, 25.4).
LITTLE MIKE (USA)
Easy work on the all-weather (800m in 1m 04.6s).
Trainer Dale Romans said: “With horses it’s all about the little hurdles getting them ready and he’s crossed them all no problem. Now we’ve just got one big one left to jump on Sunday and hopefully he can do it. It would be great to have a USA win here.”
Went a steady 1200m on the all-weather in 1m 34.5s.
Peter Schiergen reported his Group 1 Bayerisches-Zuchtrennen winner Neatico to be in good form: “He is very well, and I was very pleased with his last bit of work here earlier in the week. Unfortunately he is drawn a bit wide in gate 11, and I am not sure if he can get cover from there, but I’ll leave that to his jockey,” saidSchiergen, who was himself a multiple champion jockey in Germany. The jockey in question is Andrasch Starke, who has ridden Neatico in his last seven racecourse starts.
RAINBOW CHIC (HK)
Worked on the all-weather and clocked 26.1 s for 400m.
SAME WORLD (HK)
Worked 1200m on the all-weather under Tommy Berry in 1m 22.6s (splits: 30.0, 28.0, 24.6)
SIDE GLANCE (GB)
Andrew Balding remains upbeat about the chances of Side Glance on Sunday after his charge completed his morning routine with a school in the paddock.
The trainer said: “He’s looking good, moving well and we’ve got a good draw in gate two, so there’s a lot to look forward to. I hope he can get a piece of the cake on Sunday.”
TOKEI HALO (JPN)
Cantered on the all-weather before a paddock schooling.
Hisashi Shimizu, trainer, said: “Everything has gone perfectly up to know. He has become matured and is settled well here. Jockey Yutaka Take knows him well and handles him well all the time in races. I am very much looking forward to seeing his performance on Sunday. It has been a great honour to be selected for this wonderful occasion.”