The Longines Hong Kong International Races will be run this Sunday afternoon at Sha Tin Racecourse. As usual, horses from Europe, Asia, and Australia ship in for the four Group 1 races, billed as the Turf World Championships, with the HK$28 million (about US$3.6 million) Hong Kong Cup the highlight of the afternoon, contested at 2000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles). Conditions were excellent during training hours Wednesday, with cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 70’s. Many contenders took to the 1 mile dirt track which is located inside the 1 3/16 mile turf course.
Here are photos for 17 of the international horses out on on the dirt track and turf course at Sha Tin on Wednesday morning. Click the small photo to see a larger version.
Deirdre (Cup) breezed 5f, with the final 4f clocked in 51.4 seconds (splits of 28.2 and 23.2) on the turf course under jockey Christophe Lemaire, who said, “She moved very nicely and answered everything I asked. I think she is in great condition.” Exercise rider Yuta Komiyama added, “She is sound and I am happy with her. The warm weather of recent days has not affected her at all and the turf here should suit her. According to the weather forecast there will be rain on Sunday, but that won’t be any concern, in fact we would welcome rain. From 1800m to 2000m is her best distance and as she is a hold-up runner, the draw is not a big factor. She will have a paddock schooling on Friday.”
Staphanos (Cup) cantered 1 1/2 miles on the dirt track. Assistant trainer Kazuo Fujiwara said: “He has kept his condition well. Tomorrow we will breeze him over the turf.”
Sungrazer (Cup) breezed 4f on the turf course in 52.9 seconds (splits of 30.5 and 22.4 seconds). Assistant trainer Keiichi Asami said: “He has come into himself now and I was very happy with his work today.”
Eziyra (Vase) galloped on the dirt track as one of the last foreigners to arrive. Work rider Carlos Viera said: “She’s settled in very quickly and she travelled over well. She’s fit enough and we’ll keep tipping away but everything’s 100 per cent with her at the moment. It’ll be up to the boss to decide whether she might have a stretch on the turf on Friday.”
Latrobe (Vase) cantered on the dirt track under exercise rider Martin Doran. Assistant trainer Mark Power said: “He’s very well, and nicely relaxed here. His trainer (Joseph O’Brien) will be here on Friday.”
Mirage Dancer (Vase) stretched his legs for a circuit on turf in 1:32.1 (splits of 31.8, 31.0, 29.3), increasing the tempo slightly in the straight, without being asked to do too much. He followed that with a schooling in the paddock Assistant Sarah Denniff said: “I was very happy with that, he was nice and relaxed, and everything is good with him. The plan is for Ryan Moore to breeze him on the turf tomorrow.”
Prince of Arran (Vase) galloped on the dirt track.
Red Verdon (Vase) galloped on the dirt track.
Rostropovich (Vase) galloped on the dirt track under exercise rider Patrick Gleeson. Aidan O’Brien’s assistant Pat Keating said: “He’s coming along nicely here, and I like the way he’s settled in. He’ll go on the grass tomorrow and do a little bit then. He’s got a bit of Highland Reel about him, in the way he goes about things he’s not as good yet, but I’d be happy if he can be in the mix on Sunday.”
Salouen (Vase) cantered on the dirt track under exercise rider Shawn Graham. Former UK trainer Philip Mitchell, representing trainer Sylvester Kirk, said: “He’s in absolutely cracking form. He’s still got a summer sheen on his coat and he looks bigger and stronger than ever. We just need a bit of luck with the draw and in the race. He certainly didn’t have any luck when sixth in the Arc last time and both the trainer and I believe he could have been fourth. Let’s just say that he had his mind on other things with the filly (Enable) in the next stall, and, instead of being fast away, he lost three or four lengths at the gate. There was no Plan B but he was closing fast late on, only to get hampered.”
Beat the Bank (Mile) galloped on the dirt track under exercise rider Sandeep Gauravaram. Assistant trainer Simon Humphries said: “The trip to Hong Kong was all new to him and he’s never even done an overnighter before. He’s a bit quirky but he’s taken the whole thing really well and has put all his weight back on. He’ll have a blow under Sunday’s rider (Oisin Murphy) later in the week.”
Comin’ Through (Mile) galloped on the dirt track.
Persian Knight (Mile) galloped 1 1/2 miles on the dirt track. Work rider Hiroyuki Uemura said: “Everything has been under control and he is getting familiar with the surroundings here. We will give him a blow-out on the turf tomorrow.”
Vivlos (Mile) breezed 5f on the turf course, clocking a final 4f in 51.5 seconds (splits of 28.9 and 22.6). Trainer Yasuo Tomomichi said, “She is in the condition I’d want to see her in before any race and I think today’s work was a nice finishing touch.”
Fine Needle (Sprint) cantered 1 1/2 miles on the dirt track. Work rider Yoshinori Unoki said: “He has settled in well and has maintained good condition. Tomorrow, jockey Yuga Kawada will gallop him and I hope he will be more ready, mentally, after that drill.”
Lim’s Cruiser (Sprint) galloped on the dirt track. Trainer Stephen Gray was happy with the work and said, “You don’t want to leave it on the track so I worked him further instead of worrying about time. I thought about the grass but realised it is a mistake all trainers make. If he’s not ready now he never will be.”
Sir Dancealot (Sprint) galloped on the dirt track. Exercise rider Ryan Holley, representing trainer David Elsworth, said: “He’s well, in good form, I’m happy with him. The boss arrives today and will decide, but I think he’ll do a bit of work on the turf tomorrow.”