Thursday’s was a full and crowded morning at Sha Tin as barriers were drawn for the four Longines Hong Kong International Races. You can review the entire race card HERE, but there weren’t too many terrible draws in the race. BLAZING SPEED wasn’t done many favours for getting 12 of 12 in the Hong Kong Cup, while the hotpot favourite for the Hong Kong Mile, ABLE FRIEND drew widest for his try. As for that, Able Friend should encounter little to no trouble from the barrier, the only problem potentially being a lack of pace in the race. Japanese runner WORLD ACE is likely to go up and attend, while GOLD-FUN should be in the early mix.
Owner and former HKJC boss Ronald Arculli was chuffed with RED CADEAUX’s draw in eight, reminding some in the media that the horse won from there in 2012, which was, of course, his last victory. EMPOLI, draw wide in the Dubai Sheema Classic, did get stuck widest in 12, but should go forward and have plenty of time to settle inside as needed.
We caught up with jockey Mirco Demuro, who won the 2011 Dubai World Cup on Victoire Pisa. Demuro has rides in all four LHKIR, with his best chance likely being GLORIOUS DAYS, who won the 2013 Hong Kong Mile off a long layoff. The report on Glorious Days is the same no matter with whom you speak here in HK – it worked in 2013, why wouldn’t it work in 2014? Of course, ABLE FRIEND is a massive factor, and the shortest favourite at the meeting, but still, it’s Demuro’s best shot.
Several years on, we asked if the Dubai World Cup win was still the pinnacle of his career, and Demuro didn’t hesitate. “Yes, absolutely.”
Highlighting the emotional nature of the win for racing-crazy Japan in the aftermath of the brutal devastation of the earthquake and tsunami, Demuro suggested there was likely never to be a performance to top that win.
Japan’s STRAIGHT GIRL was the mover of the morning, flying home in 21.80 seconds for her final piece of work before the Hong Kong Sprint. Trainer Hideaki Fujiwara added: “I wanted to confirm how she would act on the surface here. She ran powerfully and showed good speed. I think the track is fine for her.”
Another of the Fujiwara contingent, FIERO (below), took it nice and easy and well within himself in an 800-metre move in 54.70 seconds, home the final 400 in 23.70. “He moved well this morning and, to my eye, his gallop on turf showed he should handle the track. There is nothing to worry about his condition, he is well. It’s not like we were selected to run the race and just decided to come after the G1 Mile Championship, we have been targeting this race for a while.”
Those comments are similar to what Fujiwara has said relative to his Hong Kong Cup chance, ARCHIMEDES, who looked in good stead today after an impressive work on Wednesday.
The well-traveled GORDON LORD BYRON looked superb in advance of another HK try, this time the Hong Kong Sprint. The Tom Hogan-trained, bargain basement purchase, put in a nice easy, but spirited move, finishing with a final 400 in 23.90 seconds. There are still questions as to whether the trip is long enough for him on firm going, and Hogan acknowledges such. “He’s in great shape as you saw this morning. I’ll tell you on Sunday afternoon whether we had him in the right race.”
It was good news for BUFFERING, the Aussie front-running sprinter who had an abscess come and go in fast fashion this week. He galloped the dirt track without trouble.
Below are the full trackwork notes from the crack team at the HKJC.
LONGINES Hong Kong Vase
CURREN MIROTIC (JPN)
Galloped on the turf in 1m 21.1s (30.1 28.6 22.4)
Shohei Shimosaka, racing manager, said: “The horse drove strongly in the stretch, but we would let him do it as he liked. He was supposed to gallop on Wednesday, but he was slightly tired after the travel and so we changed the schedule. He is very fit and I hope he will maintain his condition throughSunday.”
Cantered on the all-weather track.
Trainer Peter Schiergen said: “Everything is OK. Empoli is content here and the ground conditions will be ideal. People have mentioned possible trouble at the gates but that was only in Dubai earlier this year when I really do not know what happened. I don’t envisage any gate problems on Sunday.”
Cantered slowly on the dirt track with Annelie Ackerman up.
Richard Lambert, travelling head lad: “He does not need to do much after yesterday’s piece of work. His times were very good, I thought (22.3s in the last 400 metres). He’s still very lively though, as you can see. He’s looking everywhere and is much more distracted than when at home. It’s a good sign. Let’s now keep our fingers crossed.”
Worked 800m on the all-weather in 57.2s (30.5, 26.7).
RED CADEAUX (GB)
Steady canter on the all-weather track.
Robin Trevor-Jones, assistant to trainer Ed Dunlop, said: “There’s nothing more to say about him. He’s in great shape, and we’re happy with him. Everyone knows this horse by now, he’s been around for such a long time both here and in Australia, what more is there to say?”
SNOW SKY (GB)
Stretched his legs on the turf.
Jockey Ryan Moore said: “He comes here with plenty of upside and is still open to some improvement. He ran nicely in the St Leger and from all reports he’s done well here.”
WILLIE CAZALS (HK)
Worked 800m on all-weather track in 56.7s (30.1, 26.6).
LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint
Worked on the all-weather over 800m in 58.6s (30.5, 28.1).
Cantered freely on the all-weather track this morning.
Trainer Robert Heathcote said: “He was good in his action this morning, out there with his ears pricked and looking comfortable. I’ve never had a horse go lame so quick and then come right so quickly. He’s looking OK.
“We had a similar situation with the horse two years ago. We had to scratch him from the BTC Cup the day before the race but then eight days later he’d recovered quickly enough to run second to Sea Siren in the Doomben 10,000, beaten a head. It’s good this incident happened to him so early in the week here as he’s had the time to recover.”
FLAGSHIP SHINE (HK)
Galloped 800m on the backstretch of the turf track under Nash Rawiller in 50.5s (25.4, 25.1).
Jockey Nash Rawiller: “We just bowled along down the back, nothing special, just had a good feel of him and made sure he’s happy in himself. He’s just loving his work at the moment and he’s in a terrific frame of mind. I’ve been riding this horse in work since I got here (Hong Kong) and I’ve got a lot of time for him. He hasn’t fired in his recent runs at the mile but he was good when he came back in trip for the Jockey Club Sprint. In fact I thought his last run was really good. The better the barrier and the more pressure there is early, the better his chance will be.”
Trainer John Moore said: “Flagship Shine’s been freshened up – let him put on a bit of weight for the 1200m and now he hope he can draw a gate and pick up some nice prize-money.”
GORDON LORD BYRON (IRE)
Galloped 1200m on the turf in 1m 26.8s (32.3, 30.6, 23.9)
Trainer Tom Hogan said: “He’s in great shape as you saw this morning. I’ll tell you on Sunday afternoon whether we had him in the right race, but we’re not frightened of any of them in particular in the Sprint. It’s very open and we are one of six or seven who could win it.”
LUCKY NINE (HK)
Worked on the all-weather over 800m in 59.7s (34.1, 25.6)
Worked 800m on the all-weather in 56s (30.1, 25.9)
SMART VOLATILITY (HK)
Worked 800m on the turf course under Gerald Mosse in 55.6s (30.9, 24.7).
SOLE POWER (IRE)
Cantered on the all-weather
Trainer Edward Lynam said: Nothing new to report. Now I’m just hoping for a good draw later this morning.”
STERLING CITY (HK)
Galloped 800m of the backstretch on the turf course under Joao Moreira in 49.7s (25.7, 24.0).
Trainer John Moore said: “Sterling City is kicking his brand off, he’s very well in himself. I think he surprised Joao (Moreira) a bit with his work this morning. That was good!”
STRAIGHT GIRL (JPN)
Galloped 1200m on turf in 1m 19.7s (30.3, 27.6, 21.8)
Hideaki Fujiwara, trainer, said: “I wanted to confirm how she would act on the surface here. She ran powerfully and showed good speed. I think the track is fine for her.”
LONGINES Hong Kong Mile
ABLE FRIEND (HK)
Galloped 800m on the backstretch of the turf course under Joao Moreira in 51.7s (25.6, 26.1).
Trainer John Moore said: “I’m very happy, Able Friend went great – the jock was really upbeat about his work this morning and he couldn’t have blown a match out when he came back.”
AMBITIOUS DRAGON (HK)
Trainer Tony Millard said: “The horse is looking good this morning – looking much better. Fingers crossed he’ll be right for Sunday.”
Galloped on turf and covered 800m in 54.7s (31.0, 23.7).
Hideaki Fujiwara, trainer, said: “He moved well this morning and, to my eye, his gallop on turf showed he should handle the track. There is nothing to worry about his condition, he is well. It’s not like we were selected to run the race and just decided to come after the G1 Mile Championship, we have been targeting this race for a while.”
GRAND PRIX BOSS (JPN)
Galloped on the turf over 1200m in 1m 21.2s (31.1, 27.3, 22.8).
Yoshito Yahagi, trainer, said: “I got in last night and saw my horse for the first time here this morning. He is very fresh and very relaxed. This is his third time travelling abroad, he is fit after the travel and has taken to the surroundings very quickly. Today, I did not instruct the rider how he would work on turf because he has been breezing on the uphill course at home before we came here. The horse has won a Graded stakes every year since he debuted, and this year he has not given me one yet.”
“We were here two years ago, and I am sure that his condition is better than that time. The firm track used to be his best surface, but with age, we know he has been able to handle the slightly softer track too, as we could see in his performance (2nd) in the Yasuda Kinen in June. So I expect he can handle the turf at Sha Tin. This is his final career start, but he is in very good form and I think he would be able to continue in training next year. We will do our best to maintain his best condition so he can show his best form on Sunday.”
HANA’S GOAL (JPN)
Jockey Nash Rawiller: “She might surprise. I think she just hadn’t settled in all before the Jockey Club Mile. She’s had the time now to get used to Hong Kong and she galloped strongly yesterday. The ideal situation for her is a strong pace and a bit of give in the ground. She took a run to hit her straps in Australia and was very good winning the All Aged Stakes when I rode her for the first time.”
SECRET SHAM (HK)
Worked on the all-weather over 1200m under Neil Callan in 1m 21.3s (29.8, 27.0. 24.5).
TRADE STORM (GB)
Warmed up the all-weather and then went a steady 1200m on the turf
Trainer David Simcock, at Sha Tin for the first time, said: “The horse is well and the team has done a great job with him. He just had a routine canter today, and he’ll do a short sharp piece tomorrow. It will be tough, as the Hong Kong horses will be hard to beat in their own backyard. Realistically my horse is going to have to run a career best, but he’s seasoned, tough and consistent, and never lets us down. With the prize money, and the way you are looked after here, you have to come and have a go. It’s my first time in Hong Kong and I’m happy to have the chance to see it all at first hand.”
LONGINES Hong Kong Cup
BLAZING SPEED (HK)
Worked 800m on the all-weather in 57.3s (30.5, 26.8).
CALIFORNIA MEMORY (HK)
Worked on the all-weather & clocked 27.5s for final 400m.
CIRRUS DES AIGLES (FR)
Lobbed on the dirt track with Zoe Gargoulaud up.
Corine Barande-Barbe, trainer: “He probably went a bit faster than we wanted yesterday with all the activity around him. But it’s okay. He’s well relaxed today, yet he’s still very fresh. We have decided to keep him that way. I don’t think that we will use the turf this week. It is not that we change our routine because of what you guys call ‘old age’. You were already saying he was ancient three years ago! Believe me, he’s young at heart, truly, and being an eight-year-old doesn’t seem to affect him. Anyway, he’s born on May 8th, so he’s six months away from his 9th Birthday!”
Zoe Gargoulaud, exercise rider, said: “We went very slowly today, as I was instructed, but that’s dodgy with him because he hates that! He’s VERY fresh!”
DESIGNS ON ROME (HK)
Trainer John Moore said: “I’m pleased with Designs On Rome and he will go on the all-weather tomorrow at three-quarter pace, and so will Dominant (HK Vase).”
Cantered on the all-weather.
Trainer Roger Varian was at Sha Tin on Thursday morning for the first time this week as Farraaj continued his preparations after his day off on Wednesday. The trainer said: “He’ll need a career best but he is capable of some big days and to my mind he looks better than when he was in Australia, running that close third in the Mackinnon Stakes. Andrea (Atzeni) was happy with him earlier in the week and he’ll sit on him again tomorrow.”
HELENE SUPER STAR (HK)
Worked 800m on the all-weather in 53.7s (27.0, 26.7).
MILITARY ATTACK (HK)
Worked on the all-weather under Zac Purton and covered 800m in 57.2s (32.9, 24.3).