Saturday’s trackwork notes are provided below, courtesy the Hong Kong Jockey Club. There is one potentially troublesome note as top HK Cup tip Cirrus Des Aigles has some hoof tenderness which his trainer believes could be alleviated by new shoes.
LONGINES Hong Kong Vase
BUBBLE CHIC (HK)
David Hall, trainer, said: “He’s in good shape, his last run showed that he’s improved enough to take his place in the race. He’s not in the class of a horse likeFlintshire but he’s a genuine little horse who does his best, and if he can take a position forward in the race then hopefully he can hang on and get some prize money.”
CURREN MIROTIC (JPN)
Worked on the turf with the work rider Shinya Kobayashi up.
Osamu Hirata, the trainer, said: “He was very flexible and moved nicely this morning. He is fit.”
Cantered on the AWT
Peter Schiergen, trainer, said: “Everything is OK with the horse, he’s ready for tomorrow.”
Worked 1200m in 1m 25.4s (29.1, 29.7, 26.6).
PARISH HALL (IRE)
Trainer Jim Bolger was at Sha Tin for the first time this week as his Parish Hall completed his preparations on the all-weather track under his jockey Kevin Manning. Clocked an easy 29.9s final 400m.
Jim Bolger, trainer, said: “He’s looking well, he’s travelled well and he’s in good order. He’s relatively lightly raced for a five-year-old, but he missed out on his three-year-old campaign. He got a leg infection on the eve of the Irish 2,000 Guineas, for which he would have started favourite. I don’t know what it was, but it just blew up overnight. It was very severe, and we were lucky not to lose him. It was touch and go for about a month. I hope he’s going to run well on Sunday. If he does then the plan would be to go to Dubai with him next year.”
SNOW SKY (GB)
Cantered on AWT
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Prince Khalid Abdullah said: “Snow Sky seems in good form. We kept him ticking over after his run in the St Leger, but he was never going to go to the Breeders’ Cup. He seemed to hold his form and after a couple of nice pieces of work at home we felt it was right to bring him here. He’s still on a learning curve, so is less of the finished article than the Prince’s other runner (Flintshire). If Flintshire shows his best form, he should be a difficult horse to beat.”
LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint
Trainer Robert Heathcote said: “Happier with him all the time. He stretched out well this morning with no discomfort.”
GOLDEN HARVEST (HK)
Trainer Tony Millard said: “Golden Harvest has a tough draw on the face of it. But I foresee that there will be a blistering pace, because if they don’t chase Buffering then, good luck! He’ll just disappear into the sunset, if they don’t chase him he’ll just split and they won’t see him again, so I think there will be a hot pace, and that’s going to help our horse from a wide draw.
“I’m not overly worried about the draw because he’s a horse who comes from off the pace. It’s nice having a horse like Buffering here because it makes it a proper race. If he does go to the front and kick on, that’ll string them out a bit and make it a proper race. They will have to sit close to him because if they give him two or three lengths turning in, well they can’t do that; you can’t give a proper Group 1 horse that kind of start. He’ll be gone on this track, it’s a quick surface.
“I’m happy with my horse and I think the race is very even. There are a lot of really good horses in there but there’s no standout superstar. The guy with the best tactics on the day is going to win the race.”
GORDON LORD BYRON (IRE)
Easy work on the all-weather under Wayne Lordan & clocked 29.8s final 400m.
Wayne Lordan, jockey, said: “That last run at Ascot was so good as he was hating the deep ground and never really travelling, but he still managed to pick up for me, finish and win. This horse is as good as ever, make no mistake.”
LITTLE GERDA (JPN)
Worked on the all-weather with her regular rider Takeshi Noda up.
Yukihito Yamada, the assistant trainer, said: “She is very fit and I am really happy about that. She is relaxed and was hacking comfortably in the trotting ring as well. She can wait patiently in the field and will be able to save ground on the rail.”
SMART VOLATILITY (HK)
Francis Lui, trainer, said: “His work’s been good, he’s in good form. Gerald (Mosse) is happy with him and now it all depends on the pacing in the race.”
SNOW DRAGON (JPN)
Worked on the all-weather under the jockey Takuya Ono.
Noboru Takagi, the trainer, said: “I told the jockey to work him a bit harder in the final stages on the all-weather today. He is right, mentally. He does not like hot weather, so the temperature here is very good for him. He is behaving like he does at home so hopefully he will be able to run his race.”
STRAIGHT GIRL (JPN)
Worked on the all-weather under work rider Hiroshi Tanaka & clocked 26.6s final 400m.
Hideaki Fujiwara, the trainer, said: “The best thing is that she has not lost weight. She is in a great mood and is at her peak. The owner is very happy to see her in such good condition and looks forward to tomorrow.”
LONGINES Hong Kong Mile
Worked at a half gallop on the turf under regular rider Kazuo Fujiwara & clocked 26.1s final 400m.
Hideaki Fujiwara, the trainer, said: “He went powerfully at the end of the gallop and he handled the turf here. There is no issue about his condition.”
Richard Gibson, trainer, said: “I’ve been really pleased with his prep and I’m delighted that we’ve got him in great shape. After his excellent effort last year we’ve got him in equally good shape. I think he’s a stronger horse this year, and it will take a very good horse to beat him. He’s an excellent horse, he’s very versatile, and it’s only the very best that can beat him.”
GRAND PRIX BOSS (JPN)
Worked on the all-weather under regular work rider Yasuhiro Shibuta & clocked 25.8s final 400m.
Yoshito Yahagi, the trainer, said: “Like it or not, this is his career end tomorrow. I asked the rider to do whatever was needed so we don’t have any regretstomorrow. I think there is nothing that we have not done. He was a bit keen this morning but is in a great mood. This is his third time abroad, and, of those journeys, this is the best he has ever been.”
HANA’S GOAL (JPN)
Worked on the all-weather under the regular rider Shizuya Kato.
Kazuhiro Kato, the trainer, said: “She was not in good order last time and she disappointed but she has been here for a few weeks and her condition is really improving. She is really tough and strong mentally. She was bred at the farm, not by one of the top breeders from the Hidaka area of Hokkaido island. That she has won the G1 race in Australia and now, running in this top-class race in Hong Kong, it must be a big encouragement for the small breeders and they all wish her luck. She is ready fortomorrow.”
TRADE STORM (GB)
Cantered on the all-weather track.
David Simcock, trainer, said: “It is going to be tough for us tomorrow, I’m under no illusions. But as far as the horse is concerned – he couldn’t be better.”
WORLD ACE (JPN)
Worked on the all-weather track with his regular exercise rider Yuki Iwasaki up.
Yasutoshi Ikee, the trainer, said: “The horse is very fit, is right mentally, and he strode out very fluently. Everything is under control and the starting gate is his only issue.”
LONGINES Hong Kong Cup
Worked at a half gallop on the turf under work rider Kazuo Fujiwara & clocked 28.2s final 400m.
Hideaki Fujiwara, the trainer, said: “I told the rider to drive him strongly and stretch his legs in the final part of the workout because he has had a long vacation since last time. Everything has gone as planned. Fingers crossed and I wish all the luck to my three horses.”
BLAZING SPEED (HK)
Neil Callan, jockey, said: “The most important thing for tomorrow is that he gets balanced and strides out. We haven’t got a great draw, though if the pace is too slow I won’t hesitate to push him forward, but as I said, getting this horse balanced is everything.”
Trainer David Hayes said: “Very happy with how he’s progressed during this week. The nasty rash he had has cleared up. He now looks so good he’d nearly win the prize for best turned out horse. Who would ever turn down the opportunity to come to Hong Kong? Certainly not me having lived and trained here but this horse is not just making up the numbers.”
CIRRUS DES AIGLES (FR)
Cantered on the all-weather and was found to have a minor foot issue.
Trainer Corine Barande-Barbe said: “After trackwork today we found that he has a sensitivity on the heel of the left front foot, it’s not too much of a concern and it should be solved by a new shoeing.”
PLEASURE GAINS (HK)
Manfred Man, trainer, said: “Everything is good, his trackwork is good, his jockey says he feels well and the draw is very good. He would just like it if there was a little more ease in the track. I just hope he can run a good race.”
The Hong Kong International Races presents a massive opportunity to those who like to have a flutter on the market of their choice. The tote run by the HKJC now offers commingling from the U.S, parts of Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Macau (with more likely in the future) – adding into their already massive pools. The presence of many European shippers and big name connections attracts that marketplace, and the four international races have been priced by bookmakers for weeks.
Those with access to both pools are treated to a phenomenal opportunity. Those with access only to the tote can identify, perhaps, more legitimate value which seems, at least on the surface, a winning feeling regardless of the actual impact. Here are some major differences between the two methods.
Longines Hong Kong Cup
#8 FARRAAJ – offered between 4-1 and 11-2 on most books as of Saturday afternoon in HK. He was 8-1 in the early tote pools.
#5 CALIFORNIA MEMORY – a two time winner of the HK Cup, he is 8-1 in the early tote tally compared to general 20s on the books, but as high as 33-1 with some.
#9 ARCHIMEDES – a massive 28-1 on the HK tote while sitting between 8-1 and 10-1 with the books.
Longines Hong Kong Mile
#1 ABLE FRIEND – near evens on the books, he was walloped early on the tote at 1-5.
#6 FIERO – universally about 8-1 with the books, but 20-1 on the tote.
#8 TRADE STORM – best priced by the books at 20-1, he is 56-1 on the pari-mutuel markets.
Longines Hong Kong Sprint
#3 SOLE POWER – generally 8-1 with the books but 28-1 on the tote. He was 76-1 when second in this race a year ago and is ignored yet again.
#5 BUFFERING – slotted in at 36-1 on the tote, the Aussie front-running speedball is anywhere from 10s to 14 fixed.
#13 STRAIGHT GIRL – as low as 10-1 on the books, the Japanese sprinter is 45-1 with the tote.
Longines Hong Kong Vase
#4 EMPOLI – 25s on the books compared to 11-1 on the tote.
#12 SNOW SKY – 7-2 on the tote while as high as 15-2, though generally 11-2 out to 7 on the books.
All of these are subject to change, and there should be no doubting the tote pools have almost no money in them right now. Still, how much these trends hold will be entertaining to follow.
Let’s look back at the odds of the first three finishers in each of the races last season
Vase: Dominant 12-1, The Fugue 3-2, Dunaden 6-1 (Quinella 15-1, Tierce 358-1).
Sprint: Lord Kanaloa 4-5, Sole Power 76-1, Frederick Engels 11-2 (Quinella 70-1, Tierce 465-1).
Mile: Glorious Days 13-2, Gold-Fun 17-10, Packing Whiz 10-1 (Quinella 20-1, Tierce 407-1).
Cup: Akeed Mofeed 19-10, Tokei Halo 15-1, Cirrus Des Aigles 11-2 (Quinella 26-1, Tierce 325-1).
It is downright wild that the biggest tierce payout of the day came in the race with the shortest-priced winner, followed by the next year’s champion sprinter in Europe, classically ignored by those with access to the tote. The favorite ran first or second in each of the four races and still, tierce payouts (first three, in order) were incredibly rewarding.