It’s been quite an adventure, or perhaps misadventure, over the past 10 weeks for the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m) candidate Red Verdon and his ever attentive companion Robin Trevor-Jones, assistant to trainer Ed Dunlop.
The story begins with his late September flight to Australia which was delayed mid-route, for some 14 hours, when the cargo plane – carrying Red Verdon and 18 other horses, sustained a cracked windscreen between London and Sharjah which left the horses stranded on the tarmac at the UAE airport.
Things didn’t get better when he finally landed in Melbourne with the famous Cup, which bears the city’s name, his goal. His preparatory run in the Caulfield Cup was luckless to say the least.
Disadvantaged by the slow pace, he was then severely hampered near the 500 metres and then blocked for clear running for 200 metres thereafter.
Never mind. The Melbourne Cup was still beckoning for the talented five-year-old owned by former Hong Kong Jockey Club Chairman Ronald Arculli but then those hopes were scuttled by a hoof abscess which flared just before the Flemington race.
Trevor-Jones takes up the story: “It was unfortunate and just bad timing. The abscess took it’s time to burst. We trotted him up after his gallop, on the Saturday before the Cup, and he was OK but not 100 per cent.
“We then jogged him up around 3.30 in the afternoon and he felt OK but we still had to be concerned about what sort of race he’d run. So, the decision was made to pull the plug and give his foot every chance to get over it.”
The bad luck is hopefully all behind him and Trevor-Jones remains optimistic while acknowledging that the 2018 Hong Kong Vase looks a strong edition.
“It was a frustrating time in Melbourne but we’re through that now and ready for another chapter. You could say, at least, that he’s a fresh horse on the scene for this race and hopefully he can run well but to be realistic, it does look quite a good Vase his year.
“Melbourne Cup horses do run well here and he’s settled in well which is good given that he’s gone from the countryside (Werribee) to the city. He’s taking it all in here. We took him to the paddock on Thursday and Friday last week and that woke him up a bit and he’s done really well over the weekend.
“All’s good with him. His foot’s good and he coped really well with the travel here. It’s only eight or nine hours from Australia, which is nothing compared to Newmarket to Melbourne with a cracked windscreen,” he said.
Trevor-Jones travelled with three-time Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux, also trained by Dunlop and owned by Arculli, who won the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase in 2012.