It was an active Wednesday morning at Sha Tin as the international media descended on the northern Hong Kong racecourse. Eight horses worked on the outer portion of the turf course while the remainder took some light work on the all-weather track, which is really a dirt surface.
Globetrotting RED CADEAUX was first out with his longtime faithful companion Robin Trevor Jones in attendance. Bill Nader, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director of Racing, offered that he found it difficult to think anyone knows an active Thoroughbred better than Jones knows Red Cadeaux, having traveled the world with this one horse for so very long. As much discussion as there is of CIRRUS DES AIGLES Ipictured below) being in Hong Kong for the sixth time, this is Red Cadeaux’s fourth consecutive visit, a winner of the 2012 Hong Kong Vase. Amazingly, that was his last win! He looked in good order during a solid lap of the turf course.
Ireland’s PARISH HALL was out next, soon followed by Japanese runners LITTLE GERDA, WORLD ACE, and SNOW DRAGON. CAPTAIN CAT made an uneventful lap for trainer Roger Charlton. The last two turf workers of the morning were the most eye-catching, though.
Asked at trackwork this morning what it was that catches the eye in the morning at these international meetings, I offered the following – find the horses that are going the best while appearing to exert the least. On Wednesday, that designation would go to Arc and Breeders’ Cup second FLINTSHIRE and, perhaps to a slightly lesser degree, Japanese hopeful ARCHIMEDES. According to the HKJC clockers, Flintshire worked 1,200 metres in 1:26.30, but came home the final 400 metres in 22.30. Shortly thereafter, they caught Archimedes in 51.10 for an 800m work, but home in 22.20. Neither came close to being fully extended.
The comments from trainer Hideaki Fujiwara, released by the club, were quite interesting, “I instructed the rider to get a feel of the turf and see how the horse performs on it. That is the most important thing for today’s gallop. Actually he was selected for the QEII Cup here in April, but at that time he was tired and need a break so we decided to skip that race, so this race (Hong Kong Cup) has been the big target for him for some time. So far everything is under control. There is only one thing left that we have to clear and that is tomorrow’s draw. We need an inside draw, so all we can do now is trust that we will get some luck tomorrow.”
Hmmm. That’s compelling to know that he has been truly pointed to this spot for some time.
The full release with comments from all connections today is at the end of this post.
Japan’s HANA’S GOAL (pictured below), who goes in the Mile, blazed home in 21.90 seconds at the end of an 800m work on the dirt track. Under a bit of a ride, the mare was the quickest worker of the international horses and looks to get back to her best, achieved when winning the All Aged Stakes (G1) at Randwick in April.
Preis von Europa winner EMPOLI was the first on the dirt track this morning and put forth a strong lap, with a decent final 400 without encouragement in what was described as a strong canter. He is one who should definitely be a decent price on the local tote and worth a flutter.
Racing at Happy Valley takes top billing on Wednesday evening with the International Jockeys Challenge at the fabulous racecourse. Christophe Soumillon is the early favourite in the wagering for the four-race contest, with Joao Moreira next, then James McDonald third favourite.
LONGINES Hong Kong Vase
CURREN MIROTIC (JPN)
Worked on the all-weather and clocked 26.4s for 400m.
Yosuke Takasaka, the assistant trainer, said: “This is the first time he has travelled and he was a bit tired after he arrived, but now he has recovered and his condition is improving. He is behaving like he does at home at the stable here, which means he’s in good form. He will gallop on turf tomorrow.”
Strong canter on the AWT. Germany’s representative in the LONGINES HK Vase looked in good form as he stretched his legs in a solid canter on the AWT on Wednesday morning. Winner of the G1 Preis von Europa on his last start, Empoli appears to have settled in well at Sha Tin. His trainer Peter Schiergen will be at the track tomorrow morning to supervise the horse’s final preparations.
Worked 1200m on the Turf course under Annelie Ackerman and quickened through the final 400m to clock 1m26.3s (30.4, 33.6, 22.3). Went for two laps of the Sha Tin parade ring led by Travelling Head Lad Richard Lambert.
Richard Lambert, traveling head lad, said: “He was beautiful this morning and we are all very pleased. The ground here is fast and he just loves it. The inner side of the course is a little bit better as it is all new. This is the kind of ground you’d want for him; he just thrives on it. We put him on the turf so that he’d get a feel for the course. When he got into the straight, he just went on his own, according to Annelie, who is all smiles. We then took him to the parade ring, as usual when we send horses over here. We like them to get accustomed to the place, not to be surprised on the big day, even though I suspect there will be many more people to watch on Sunday. There won’t be much more to do now. He’s done what he was supposed to do.”
PARISH HALL (IRE)
Galloped on the Turf and covered final 1200m in 1m 31.9s (33.4, 31.4, 27.1). The Jim Bolger-trained contender took to the turf for the first time since his arrival, and stretched out without being asked to do too much. His trainer and race jockey Kevin Manning are scheduled to arrive in Hong Kong on Friday, and to be at the track on Saturday.
RED CADEAUX (GB)
Worked on the turf and closed out the final 1200m in 1m 31.3s (32.6, 32.8, 25.9).
Trainer’s assistant Robin Trevor-Jones said: “He’s doing great, same as ever. He knows this place well and he’s happy. He won’t do much more now before Sunday.”
LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint
Trainer Robert Heathcote on the horse’s recovery from a hoof abscess: “We were able to shoe him this morning and he then trotted up pretty well. On a scale of five I’d say his degree of discomfort would be about 0.8 and he’s improving all the time. He should be right for some light work tomorrow and then, all being well, we can gallop him on the turf on Friday.”
LITTLE GERDA (JPN)
Galloped 800m on turf under jockey Mirco Demuro in 52.6s (29.6, 23.0).
Mirco Demuro said: “I’m happy with her gallop today. She likes turf. She is very quiet and relaxed. The outside track on the turf was slightly rough so I tried to guide her a little bit to the inner course. I like her so much.”
SNOW DRAGON (JPN)
Worked 1200m on turf under jockey Takuya Ono in 1m 31.8s (34.3, 32.2, 25.3).
Takuya Ono said: “He was very relaxed and moved easily, and he answered me well in the gallop. Everything has gone well and smooth so far. I think he the surface is fine for him.”
Galloped on the dirt track and was clocked at 53.5s for 800m (30.7, 22.8).
SOLE POWER (IRE)
Cantered on the AWT
Trainer Eddie Lynam and his owner David Power were at the track for the first time and Lynam said: “Sole Power lost a little more weight on the flight over than we would have liked but I’m happy enough with him. I’d say we’re hopeful about Sunday’s race. The draw will be important and he’s a come from behind sprinter so we’d like to see a good even pace. He’s had his best ever year. He’s rarely let us down, he had a great summer in England and we’re so proud of the horse especially after he was named Irish Horse of the Year. The race looks to be more open this year without Lord Kanaloa and Sole Power will be there doing his best. I have watched the trial race and it’s hard to work that race out, there were a number of hard luck stories, I think, and I don’t rule out the other Irish horse (Gordon Lord Byron) either. There are a lot of horses with chances”
LONGINES Hong Kong Mile
AMBITIOUS DRAGON (HK)
Tony Millard’s charge was reported to be lame in the right front leg yesterday (Tuesday) morning. The 2012 Mile winner will continue to be monitored by Jockey Club vets and a further update will be issued at the appropriate time.
CAPTAIN CAT (GB)
Galloped on the turf and covered 1200m in 1m 21.0s (30.4, 27.2, 23.4).
GRAND PRIX BOSS (JPN)
Worked on the all-weather
Assistant trainer Yasuhiro Shibuta said: “He is in good condition and that gives me a lot of confidence. He has got through everything in good order. He was almost 100% fit last week, and we just need to maintain his condition until Sunday. Tomorrow he will gallop on the turf and we will try to keep him nice and relaxed, we don’t want him felling any tension.”
HANA’S GOAL (JPN)
Galloped 800m on the dirt track in 50.6s (28.7, 21.9).
Shizuya Kato, work rider, said: “Her condition is really improving. Her mood is great. She will just have easy work tomorrow.”
TRADE STORM (GB)
Cantered on AWT under work rider Laura Pike followed by paddock school.
Trainer David Simcock arrives in Hong Kong later today and his assistant Ian Russell said: “We’re just keeping him ticking over, but Laura’s happy with him and says he’s very well. He’s done plenty of travelling this year, he’s very professional, and he’s tough, a seasoned campaigner now. He’s a very laid back horse and touch wood we’ve had no problems with him here. David (Simcock) arrives tomorrow and the horse is likely to work on the turf tomorrow and Friday. He’s been a great asset to our yard and hopefully he can run well again as he did in Canada and at the Breeders Cup.”
WORLD ACE (JPN)
Galloped on the turf and covered 1200m in 1m 23.8s (30.9, 29.9, 23.0).
Yasutoshi Ikee, trainer, said: “I instructed the rider to drive him strongly in the stretch. He galloped very well and I am very satisfied. His breathing was good and he is in good condition ahead of Sunday’s race – we just need to maintain that. In his last race (G1 Mile Championship), the sluggish start was everything. He never settled during the race after that and didn’t have a hard race, so he recovered quickly. I think if he had started better that day he would have won the race.”
LONGINES Hong Kong Cup
Galloped on turf and covered 800m in 51.1s (28.9, 22.2). Schooled in the paddock.
Trainer Hideaki Fujiwara said: “I instructed the rider to get a feel of the turf and see how the horse performs on it. That is the most important thing for today’s gallop. Actually he was selected for the QEII Cup here in April, but at that time he was tired and need a break so we decided to skip that race, so this race (Hong Kong Cup) has been the big target for him for some time. So far everything is under control. There is only one thing left that we have to clear and that is tomorrow’s draw. We need an inside draw, so all we can do now is trust that we will get some luck tomorrow.”
CIRRUS DES AIGLES (FR)
Worked on the dirt under regular rider Zoe Gargoulaud and covered 800m in 50.1s (25.5, 24.6).
Corine Barande-Barbe, trainer, said: “He seems to be right mentally. I hope he’s also right in his heart. I feel he’s getting better and better; Perhaps he reaches his peak when he’s 50!”
Worked 800m on the dirt track in 57.2s (30.8, 26.4).