Hong Kong track notes ahead of International Race Day

Nirvana In Fire

WITH all eyes focused on Sha Tin this Sunday for the Hong Kong International Race Day, we’ve compiled all the last-minute notes from track work as the big fancies have their final gallops before the Group 1 features.

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Hong Kong Cup

Blond Me Trackwork Friday morning
Looked comfortable as she did a circuit of the track before having a parade ring school. She was ridden as usual by Leanne Masterton with big race rider Oisin Murphy arriving on Saturday.

Trainer Andrew Balding said: “She is easy to get fit, and a very easy horse to train. She’s fresh after only four runs this year. If she runs up to her best, she’s in there with a chance.”


Clocked 43.4s (15.8, 13.8, 13.8) over 600m of the all-weather track following his turf work yesterday, following Highland Reel with regular rider Gary O’Connor aboard. Ryan Moore will be on board Deauville on Sunday.


Made one easy tour of the all-weather at a hack canter or galop de chasse as his French trainer Corine Barande-Barbe would refer to the exercise.

Barande-Barbe said: “He is fine and I’m very happy with him so we just went very easily.”


Schooled at the starting gate.


Galloped strongly through 800m on the turf course, running 56.0s (16.8, 14.4, 13.2, 11.6). He was then paddock schooled.

Trainer Sir Michael Stoute is expected to arrive in Hong Kong today. His assistant Kevin Bradshaw said: “Happy with that this morning. He’s well.”


Big race rider Sam Clipperton was on board for the first time as he had a walk and a trot in the quarantine stables before a canter around the all-weather track, watched by Harry Dunlop and his wife Christina.

Christina Dunlop said: “We’re very pleased to have Sam on board on Sunday and the colt looked good together this morning. He’ll do a slightly stronger piece of work tomorrow.”


Cantered on the all-weather track.


Schooled in the Sha Tin paddock and gate.

Assistant trainer Kota Kato said: “This was her second time schooling so she was very relaxed. She is switched on and really keen to run. We’ll take her out on the all-weather tomorrow.”


Schooled in the Sha Tin paddock and gate.

Trainer Hideaki Fujiwara said: “They did well today. Very relaxed. We might take them out on the all-weather tomorrow.”


Cantered on the small inner all-weather track.


A routine lap of the all-weather track, looking relaxed and moving fluently for his rider Derek Stamp as he closed through the last 400m in 25.4s (13.2, 12.2). He has not attracted much attention all week, going around in the middle of the O’Brien contingent, but seems on good terms with himself. Seamie Heffernan will have the ride on Sunday.


Cantered on the small inner all-weather under Tommy Berry.

Hong Kong Mile


Worked 800m on the all-weather track under Derek Leung in 53.8s (27.9, 25.9).


Cantered on the small inner all-weather track.


Cantered on the small inner all-weather track.


Cantered on the small inner all-weather track.


Worked 400m on the all-weather track in 27.2s.


Worked 800m on the all-weather track in 57.3s (30.7, 26.6).

Karar trackwork HK Friday morning
Worked 800m on the all-weather in 1m 07.4s (18.2, 17.8, 15.6, 15.8). Race day jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot was an interested observer as Karar trailed compatriot Talismanic (Vase) for a leisurely tour of the all-weather track at Sha Tin.

Boudot, who opened his account in Hong Kong when taking out leg four of the LONGINES IJC at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, said: “It’s a great draw [3] and he is a horse you can go forward with. He ran a great race in the Breeders’ Cup from a really wide draw and from a lower number and I think he would have certainly been in the first three. It looks an open race and I think we can end up at least in the places.”


Returned to the all-weather track this morning following yesterday’s turf work, and had a steady canter under Seamie Heffernan. He continues to look on good terms with himself ahead of his Sunday assignment, when Ryan Moore will be in the saddle.


Lightning Spear worked on the grass for the first time, going a good gallop without being fully extended by trainer David Simcock’s wife Jenny. Clocked 50.4s (14.8, 12.6, 11.2, 11.8) for 800m.

Jenny Simcock later said: “We went on the grass this morning for the first time and he had a nice little workout. I didn’t ask him to do too much as he’s plenty fit enough and overall I’m very happy with him. He’s drawn in one so we’ll see how that works out. He won’t be on the lead but I hope he can get a nice position in the race from there.”


Cantered a routine lap of the all-weather track for her regular partner Richella Carroll: clocked 25.0s (13.0, 12.0) for 400m. The filly has been going quietly about her business all week and today was no different. She will have to overcome the widest draw of all in Gate 14, with Seamie Heffernan in the irons.


Satono Aladdin stayed at the quarantine stable area as scheduled.


Remained in the stable area after yesterday’s turf gallop.


Worked 400m on the all-weather track in 28.1s.


Remained in the stable area.

Hong Kong Sprint


Exercised on the small inner all-weather.


Remained in the stable area after yesterday’s turf gallop.


Exercised on the small inner all-weather track.


Exercised in the Sha Tin quarantine stable’s trotting track.

Groom Yoshiaki Terada said: “We walked her for about 90 minutes this morning in the quarantine area. She has settled down quite a lot since arriving but she is still a little off her feed as she gets a bit lonely in the quiet quarantine area. We’ll be exercising her again in quarantine tomorrow too.”


Exercised on the small inner all-weather track.


Exercised on the small inner all-weather.


Galloped 800m on the all-weather track under Tommy Berry and clocked 54.9s (29.6, 25.3).

Once In A Moon trackwork HK Friday morning
Once in a Moon schooled at the paddock ring

Race rider Zac Purton said: “I worked her in a gallop yesterday. She quickened up nicely and she extended very well and I think she should be good for the weekend. I think she can run well. For her, the draw (2) is a big help. The Hong Kong horses are very quick, so we need to be faster to try to get them. I would be happy if I could lead, but it just depends how much pressure comes from the others. If they go faster, I have to take her to behind the lead.”


Exercised on the small inner all-weather track.


Worked 800m on turf in 56.0s (16.8, 14.4, 13.2, 11.6). Looked bright on Friday morning and showing no outward effects of his reported travel fatigue. Race day jockey Stephane Pasquier breezed the 2016 Prix Maurice de Gheest winner over 800m, finishing off in a sharp 11.6 seconds for the final 200m.

Stephane Pasquier said: “He moved very well this morning and he kept straight and showed plenty of desire, all of which is very important with him. He is in very good shape, and with a much better draw than last year [5] I should be able to ride him a bit closer to the pace. It depends on how fast they go and he can get disheartened if the pace is very quick. But you saw here last year that he was able to follow the pace in Hong Kong easily enough.”

Pasquier had to throw plans A, B and C out the window 12 months ago when Signs Of Blessing drew stall 14 but the pair made up a huge amount of ground to finish fifth, beaten only a length and three quarters. He added: “He has been lucky with a low draw and next to the favourites and I will be trying to stay close to them. He is a super horse and he is certainly up to winning a race like this.”


Worked, on the all-weather track, before being paddock schooled and taken to the starting gates.


Worked 600m on the all-weather in 36.8s (12.8, 11.6, 12.4).


Exercised on the small inner all-weather track.

Hong Kong Vase


Looked enthusiastic as he breezed around the all-weather track prior to a parade ring school. Clocked 46.0s (16.2, 14.4, 15.4) for 600m on the all-weather.

Trainer Ralph Beckett said: “He’s in good shape, and his weight is fine. We’ve felt for some time that going right-handed on fast ground would be ideal. He’s got a good draw (4) and I think he’ll run his race but it does look one of the strongest Vases for some time.”


Looking very fit, he was initially edgy as he came onto the all-weather track but quickly settled down as he cantered around prior to a parade ring school – clocked 13.4s for 200m on the all-weather track. He was supervised by trainer Richard Hannon who arrived in Hong Kong yesterday.

Hannon said: “All the reports have been good this week, and I’m happy with what I’ve seen this morning.”

Co-owner Andy Smith commented: “Unlike yesterday he didn’t try to bite or kick me, which was encouraging! He’s not bred to be a stayer but that really seems to be his strength. I know we’re outsiders but I won’t be surprised if we take home some prizemoney on Sunday.”


Exercised on the small inner all-weather.


Cantered on the small inner all-weather track.

Trainer Tony Cruz said: “I think he can run a place. He doesn’t strike me as being a star, so if he places I’ll be happy. He wants a mile and a half – he’s not a horse with a lot of speed but he does have stamina. We know he’ll stay on, so I’m hoping that asset will be an advantage over some of his rivals. He has heart and stamina but he just seems to lack that extra little bit he needs to win a race like this.”


Exercised on the all-weather track under Sam Clipperton.

Highland Reel trackwork HK Friday morning
Cantered a lap of the all-weather track (800m of the all-weather track in 57.2s [14.8, 15.8, 13.4, 13.2]), with Davy Bergin in the irons.

Aidan O’Brien’s travelling head lad Pat Keating said: “They all worked well yesterday, and I’m happy with them all.”

Ryan Moore said: “He’s been a super horse. He’s a world-class horse. He’s run all around the world and he always runs a good race. Last year he ran a super race, they kicked a long way clear. Satono Crown won the big Group 1 at Hanshin this year (the Takarazuka Kinen) at 1m3f where he beat Kitasan Black. If Highland Reel runs the race he did last year, they’ll have to run a big race to go by.”


Schooled at the paddock.

Assistant trainer Norihiko Kishimoto said: “He was relaxed walking around today.”


Stretched his legs on the all-weather track and again looked sharp and well as he’s done all week.

David Casey, rider and assistant to trainer Willie Mullins, said: “So far, so good. Happy with him.”


Worked on the all-weather track before being paddock schooled. The mare looks to have thrived during the week.


Worked 600m on the all-weather track in 40.2s (13.8, 13.2, 13.2).

Trainer Alain Couetil said: “I couldn’t be happier with him and we just have to get to the race now. With so many runners and over a trip just further than ideal the Melbourne Cup was a tough race for him. 2,400 metres is his best trip and with 12 runners he should find it easier to be competitive. Olivier knows the horse very well and you can ride him forward or drop him in. He will decide as the race develops.”


Cantered two laps of the all-weather track under regular companion Vincent Champion, returning a time of 58.4 seconds (14.8, 14.8, 13.4, 15.4) for an unhurried closing 800 metres.

Godolphin’s representative in France, Lisa-Jane Graffard, said: “He appears very well. He has done the bare minimum but he seems well. You always know when he is sticking out his tongue that he is happy and it was sticking out this morning. Travelling Head Lad Richard (Lambert) and rider Vincent are both pleased with him.”


Schooled in the Sha Tin paddock and gate.

Trainer Hideaki Fujiwara said: “They did well today. Very relaxed. We might take them out on the all-weather tomorrow.”