Our first day on the ground in Hong Kong is a full one, with tonight’s International Jockeys’ Championship at Happy Valley. If you have yet to experience racing at “The Valley,” it is truly one of the most unique experiences the sport has to offer. Were racing able to bottle just one-fifth the energy of a Wednesday at Happy Valley and uncork it in any jurisdiction, they’d sell out in no time. More on that in tomorrow’s report, though.
If you are a regular reader of DubaiRaceNight.com, we offer our outlook on trackwork at major international meetings with words of caution which should accompany any such report. If you don’t see a horse with frequency in the morning sessions, offering a truly educated opinion is near impossible. There are always small signs of good performance or other worrying indicators, but wholesale recommendations from glimpses into a sliver of a horse’s morning appearance rarely come from these pages.
That being said, Lord Kanaloa, the 2012 Longines Hong Kong Sprint (G1) winner caught our eye. He powered away from his competition last year and rolled to an easy win, Japan’s first in the race. The son of King Kamehameha has been near pefect since his win here last year, and looked completely within his business when working on the outside portion of the Sha Tin turf today. You would expect a winner of as many Group 1 races as he has managed to look this way, but he was still impressive. The Hong Kong Jockey Club reported his final 400-metre segment over the grass this morning went in 21.50 seconds – it looked fast, but easy, and it was. As good as some of the others appeared this morning, most notably Sole Power, it seems near impossible to think this guy gets beat.
Red Cadeaux was the first on the course, and we caught him coming by with Robin Trevor-Jones, his main traveling companion on his many overseas excursions. He is a global favourite, and nearly a two-time winner of the Melbourne Cup were it not for a incredibly small margins in 2011 and 2013. We caught them walking by in this shot.
Seismos is the sneaky horse for us in the Longines Hong Kong Vase and is one likely in need of a solid interior barrier draw. The well-traveled German would be the first to raise his native flag should he win, despite numerous solid placings from the country’s starters in the past. Trainer Andreas Wohler was second in the Hong Kong Cup in 2002 with Paolini.
Sky Lantern was not originally on the schedule to appear out today, but the Richard Hannon filly made it out. There are reports the grey filly did not travel as well as some, but she seemed in decent nick this morning. One thing about this filly is that she has been pointed to this race for quite some time, the same of which can be said for favourite Moonlight Cloud. Intent is always underrated in our opinion.
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Below, find the full trackwork notes, courtesy of the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
LONGINES Hong Kong Vase
ASUKA KURICHAN (JPN)
Did a half gallop on the all-weather under jockey TakumaOgino attending the team as a work rider.
Trainer Naosuke Sugai said: “He worked vigorously before he left Japan and I felt the turf at Sha Tin was a bit fast even with some watering. So I gave him work with a half gallop on the all-weather. It was a much better performance than I expected.”
Jockey and exercise rider Ogino said: “He is getting very relaxed and has been settled every day. Everything has been under control so far. He is six now but has progressed physically and is stronger now compared to this summer. I think it was a good gallop.”
Mikel Delzangles, trainer, said: “He lost a shoe in the Japan Cup and we found it on the bend but we could not figure out whether he lost it during the race or after. Anyway his hoof remained a little warm until his arrival here and the blacksmith has done a good job fixing it. Dunaden is as good as ever now. He knows his routine nowadays so there’s nothing we will change and I hope he will do well on Sunday. We had planned to keep him in Japan for the Arima Kinen (on 22 December) but as it happened, he would have had to stay on his own for a month. He would have hated it and we opted for another visit to Hong Kong. He knows his whereabouts here and found some of his usual travelling mates. It’s only two weeks between runs which is tight but the horse looks to be happy and fresh. The trick is just to keep him happy.”
Alain de Royer Dupre, trainer, said: “I decided to switch her to the turf this morning because I found her in pretty good shape and I wanted her to experience the course before the race day. It is always good to have a first impression beforehand. The point was not to give her a good gallop but rather some kind of stroll. We decided to come to Hong Kongwith her after her unfortunate trip in the Prix Royal-Oak last time out. In any case she is a late developer and she has been improving all season. She’s only three years old but the weight for age is very much in her favour. She gets 9lbs from Red Cadeaux and that’s always nice. Daryakana was also three when she won here (2009 HK Vase). They are different fillies though. Ebiyza has got a long acceleration but she can be outpaced while Daryakana was a fast closer.”
MOUNT ATHOS (GB)
Luca Cumani’s Vase hopeful continues to impress all observers at Sha Tin and this morning continued his usual routine of a light workout and further paddock familiarisation.
Charlie Henson, assistant trainer, confirmed the view of most onlookers when he said: “He does look fantastic. I’m very pleased with him.”
Nymphea stretched her legs on the all-weather track this morning and had a 1000m cruise.
Trainer Peter Schiergen said: “Both horses (Nymphea and Neatico) looked good today. They have travelled well and I’m happy with them. Both horses need good ground. Nymphea didn’t handle the soft conditions when she failed last time at Ascot.”
RED CADEAUX (GB)
Went 1200m on the turf, clocking 1m 21.1s, going 25.0s for the final 400m.
Travelling head lad Robin Trevor-Jones said: “Everything is falling into place. He had a nice blow today, and he’s where we want him to be. We just need to find some pace in the race otherwise The Fugue might just be too quick for all of us in the straight.”
Like yesterday, big-race jockey Gerald Mosse was watching eagerly from the sidelines and commented: “This horse keeps on amazing us, and from what I have seen this week there is absolutely nothing bad to say about his current wellbeing.”
LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint
CHARLES THE GREAT (HK)
Trainer John Moore said: “He’s been a bit of a surprise packet this season, winning that Group 2 the other day. He still might be open to some improvement. He’ll have his last gallop on the turf down the back there tomorrow, along withSterling City.”
FREDERICK ENGELS (HK)
Trainer John Moore said: “His preparation has been good, he’s just not had the luck with the gates in his races. If he draws a good one for Sunday he’s a very good each-way chance – he’s the best of mine. He’ll have his last gallop tomorrow on the dirt.”
The filly appeared on the track and did light exercise on the all-weather.
Trainer Robert Cowell said: “She’s settled in well and it’s great to be here to take part in this wonderful meeting. She gets in well with the fillies allowance and hopefully she can run her race. Her form’s been good at home. I know she was big odds when she won the Nunthorpe but it was no surprise to us as she’s always shown us that sort of ability.
“I am happy with her right now, she has travelled well, and will like the track and the ground here. The conditions were all against her at Longchamp last time, but she still ran well before the others ran her down in the last half furlong. I think she’ll be right there in the mix on Sunday at the furlong pole, but it’s a question of whether she sees out the final 200m.”
LORD KANALOA (JPN)
Galloped 1200m on turf in 1m19.6s (splits: 30.1, 28.0, 21.5)
Assistant trainer Shogo Yasuda said: “It was just like his usual gallop and I am happy with that today. Actually I tried to relax him in the gallop but as it was his second time inHong Kong and he is used to this environment, I felt he still needed more spirit. So I drove him a bit strongly at the end of the stretch run. He is in top form physically, so I will try to raise him mentally in the following three days.”
SLADE POWER (IRE) & SOLE POWER (IRE)
Both were out on the all-weather track. Sole Power took things easy and Slade Power was clocked at 56.6s (splits: 29.6, 27.0) for a steady 800m spin.
Trainer Edward Lynam said: “Both horses seem settled and bright enough. I’m not worried about the ground. This track is superb and I doubt the ground will be an issue for my horses or any horse for that matter.”
Lynam said that the barrier draw was likely to be significant. “Slade Power can be on top of the speed so a good gate would be ideal. Sole Power will be closing late so at least we have something of a two-pronged chance.”
STERLING CITY (HK)
Trainer John Moore said: “I’ve wanted to keep him on the fresh side and he’s done everything right heading into this. His work’s been very good and has a good each-way chance. He’ll have his final sprint-up on the grass tomorrow – they’ll go down the back from the 1800m start.”
LONGINES Hong Kong Mile
GORDON LORD BYRON (GB)
Went a quick canter on the all-weather track.
Assistant trainer Eddie Power was pleased and said: “He seems in good shape and is a bit stronger than he was a year ago.”
MOONLIGHT CLOUD (FR)
The French mare worked on the all-weather, covering 800m in an easy 57.8s (splits; 29.9, 27.9)
Trainer Freddy Head said: “I liked her piece of work this morning over the dirt track, which rode a bit softer than the previous days, according to the mare’s rider, Philippe Coppin.”
SKY LANTERN (GB)
The filly made her first appearance on the track today, and attracted a mass of media attention.
Assistant trainer Richard Hannon jr said: “She was a bit quiet when she arrived at the weekend, but she is fine now and is eating and drinking plenty. We’re just giving her a quiet canter today.”
LONGINES Hong Kong Cup
Grandeur’s last overseas foray was to the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita at the end of October, when travel sickness ruled out the horse from his intended participation in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The gelding, who arrived in Hong Kong on Monday, has had no such issues on this trip, and was out for a light canter on the all weather track.
Trainer Jeremy Noseda said: “Happily everything has gone well this time around. I think he was just unlucky last time, sometime these things just happen. But if we had run him then, we probably wouldn’t be here now. I am happy with the way he is, and he won’t do much between now and the race. I might just put him on the turf on Friday and let him have a blow for about a furlong.”
Under race day jockey Andrasch Starke, Neatico was not pushed early in a 1200m workout in 1m 19.1s but he did skip home the last 400 metres in a brisk 22 seconds flat (splits: 29.1, 28.0, 22.0).
Trainer Peter Schiergen said: “Neatico looked good today. He travelled well and I’m happy with him. Both my horses need good ground – Neatico has won four races on good ground this year.”
SIDE GLANCE (GB)
Leanne Masterson, travelling head lass for trainer Andrew Balding: “He stayed in the trotting ring today as planned. Mr Balding arrives here tomorrow and the plan is to work him on the grass.”
TOKEI HALO (JPN)
Breezed 1200m on the turf track under Yutaka Take in 1m 26.4s (splits: 32.4, 29.5, 24.5)
Trainer Hisashi Shimizu said: “As I saw him at the stable this morning, I had an impression that he was very fit and settled. He did not have any problem with his first time getting on the airplane because he did a lot of travelling back home. Today, I expected the time would be quicker on the turf, and I wanted to see how he would handle galloping on the course. The type of turf covered at Sha Tin is not as similar to the Bermuda grass (at home) as I had expected, but I have no worries. I would like to draw an inner gatetomorrow for his tactics.”
Jockey Yutaka Take said: “He settled very well – he wasn’t too relaxed and he wasn’t too tense, he was just how we would want him. He keeps good form and hopefully he can be set for Sunday with this good condition.”