LONGINES Hong Kong International Races Wednesday (6/12) track notes

LONGINES Hong Kong Cup
Work rider Leanne Masterton partnered the filly as usual, and she looked comfortable
cantering around the all-weather track.
“Still all good,” Masterton said, also confirming that trainer Andrew Balding would be arriving in Hong Kong later today.
Followed stable companion Highland Reel in routine work through a lap of the all-weather track under usual partner Gary O’Connor. Clocked 45.0s (15.8, 14.8, 14.4) for 600m.
GARLINGARI (FR) (pictured below)
Trainer Corine Barande-Barbe made it from Hong Kong International Airport in time to catch Garlingari canter a single lap of the Sha Tin all-weather under Zoe Gargoulaud and was pleased with what she saw. In terms of stepping down in trip from 2400m in the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase 12 months ago to the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup over 2000m on Sunday, Barande-Barbe believes the shorter race will see Garlingari in a better light.
The trainer said: “In France I think 2000 metres is his best trip but here you need more speed so we trained him at home for that. It’s a nice challenge for him. He is a year older and now he is six is more mature. He has also had an easier year than in 2016, when he ran all through the spring and then maybe tailed off slightly. Now he is on his way to the top and the top will be on Sunday.”
Neorealism walked and jogged in the quarantine stable trotting ring before he cantered two laps on the all-weather track.
Trainer Noriyuki Hori said: “The main point is to keep him relaxed in these different surroundings. I asked the rider to reacquaint himself to the environment while working him. Regarding the fast work, I will decide whether he gallops on Thursday or Friday. It depends on the horse’s condition, the track condition and the weather tomorrow morning. But Joao Moreira will be on board when he gallops.”
On his toes as he tracked the flighty USA sprinter Stormy Liberal onto the turf this morning. Then stretched his legs over 600m in 46.6s (16.8, 14.6, 15.2).
The G1-winning colt continued his preparation with a canter around the all-weather track, supervised by trainer Harry Dunlop. Clocked 31.4s (15.8, 15.6) for 400m of the all-weather track.
Dunlop said: “Firstly I would like to thank the Hong Kong Jockey Club for everything they are doing for us, just fantastic.” He added: “I’ve tried to learn from my brother (trainer Ed Dunlop who has sent out three HKIR winners) and really the plan is just to keep him fresh in the run-up to Sunday. We’ve heard lots of good things about his big-race rider Sam (Clipperton) and he’ll be having a sit on him on Friday.”
Exercised on the small inner all-weather track.
Cantered one and a half laps around the Sha Tin all-weather track and schooled in the paddock.
Assistant trainer Kota Kato said: “Today I rode her for a lap and a half on the all-weather. She feels great and has a nice action right now. Tomorrow we will breeze her on the turf with Yutaka Take riding her.”
Cantered one and a half laps around the Sha Tin all-weather track and clocked 44.8s (16.2, 13.2, 15.4) for the final 600m.
Assistant trainer Kazuo Fujiwara said: “He is right where we want him right now. He’ll have his fast work tomorrow with Hugh Bowman aboard.”
Had a jump out from the gate on the all-weather track in company with Peniaphobia. Clocked  21.7s for 400m.
Trainer Tony Cruz said: “I’m happy with him. He’s fit and well for Sunday.”
Repeated the exercise routine of the past two days in the middle of the Ballydoyle quintet with his lad Derek Stamp in the irons.
Exercised two laps on the small inner all-weather track under Tommy Berry.
Trainer John Moore said: “He’s well, he’s as fit as I can have him. He’ll be peaking at the right time. He’ll gallop tomorrow (Thursday) at 6am along with the rest of my team.”
LONGINES Hong Kong Mile
Exercised on the all-weather track under Derek Leung.
Trainer John Moore said: “Everything has gone to plan. He’ll be out on the turf with the others tomorrow (Thursday).”
Had a jump out from the gate on the all-weather track and breezed 400m in company with Gold Mount. Clocked 21.6s.
Trainer Tony Cruz said: “I’m happy with all four of mine, they’re all fit and well. Beauty Only seems to have improved since his last run, there’s not much to look at once you get past his distinctive head but he seems well.”
Contentment worked 800m on the all-weather track in 58.8s (33.9, 24.9).
Exercised a lap of the all-weather track under Sam Clipperton.
Trainer John Moore said: “He’s over the little eye issue he had and he’s heading the right way. It took a bit of work but we got there. He will gallop tomorrow (Thursday) morning.”
Exercised two laps of the small inner all-weather track.
Cantered a lap of the all-weather track under Tommy Berry.
KARAR (FR) (pictured below)
Karar reprised his role of shadowing Vase contender and compatriot Talismanic around the all-weather track before taking in some paddock schooling. Freshly-arrived from Paris overnight, trainer Francis Graffard has been happier with the son of Invincible Spirit’s preparation and overall condition than ahead of his seventh-placed run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Trainer Francis Graffard said: “He had a very long journey to get here and that was bound to take a little bit out of him but he seems to me to be very well, better in fact than I expected. I think he looks better than he did in the United States, where his coat was a bit dull. He is nice and supple and his work before leaving France was better than it was ahead of the Breeders’ Cup. The only thing is that he had a really long trip to get here because at the last moment he had to switch and travel over with the British horses.”
With Seamie Heffernan on board as he has been all week, he cantered of a lap of the all-weather track with his Ballydoyle stable companions. Lancaster Bomber, who has been runner up in five Group 1 races in his 14-race career to date, most recently in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, was his usual relaxed self as he went through his routine.
Seamie Heffernan said as he headed off the track: “Everything’s good with him, he seems very well, and I’m happy with the way he is.”
The six-time winner made his first appearance at Sha Tin today, doing some easy work around the all-weather track, partnered by the trainer’s wife Jenny Simcock.
Jenny Simcock said: “He was a little bit fresh and on his toes though that was probably because it was his first day on the track. Hopefully he’ll settle in over the next couple of days.”
With regular rider Richella Carroll on board, the filly brought up the rear in the Ballydoyle quintet as she put in another routine canter, mirroring her exercise of the past two days.The three-year-old filly, like Lancaster Bomber the produce of War Front, is small of stature but big of heart, and already a three-time Group 1 winner this year. It has been easy for track work observers to overlook her as she has gone quietly about her business all week.
Trainer Yasutoshi Ikee supervised Satono Aladdin’s work on the all-weather track as he came home through the final 600m in 44.6s (14.8, 15.0, 14.8).
Ikee said: “He seems well and looks good in condition. It is his third time in Hong Kong. Everything has gone well, as planned. In the Tenno Sho Autumn, it was a really rain-soaked track and in the following Mile Championship, the track was not as bad as the Tenno Sho, but it was still a bit soft. The three factors that the horse needs are fast track, high pace and outer draw. He is a hold-up runner and comes from behind with a burst of speed. This is his last start before he goes to stud, so hopefully he can run his race.”
Exercised on the small inner all-weather track.
Exercised two laps on the inner small all-weather track.
Worked 800m on the all-weather track in 59.2s (33.8, 25.4).
LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint
Galloped over 400m on the all-weather track in 25.7s.
Exercised on the small inner all-weather track.
Trainer Ricky Yiu said: “He’s going nicely. He’ll gallop on the turf tomorrow (Thursday), unfortunately Gerald (Mosse) will not be here but we’ve got the next best thing – his daughter’s partner! Umberto (Rispoli) knows the horse well so we’re keeping it in the family. Blizzard’s not in the same company as my other Sprint winners (Fairy King Prawn and Sacred Kingdom) but he is honest.”
Given a sharp gallop over 400m on the all-weather track, clocking 25.1s.
Cantered one and a half laps around the Sha Tin all-weather track, completing her final 200m in 12.0s, and schooled in the paddock.
Groom Yoshiaki Terada said: “She was a little off her feed this morning but she was full of energy today on the track and schooled in the paddock with her friend Smart Layer. She’ll have her final work on the turf course tomorrow.”
Exercised on the small inner all-weather track.
Trainer Francis Lui said: “He’s fine. We galloped him on Monday and we’re happy with his condition. He’ll gallop on the dirt tomorrow.”
Took to the all-weather track for a 800m gallop, stopping the clock in 58.9s (32.9, 26.0).
Exercised on the all-weather track.
ONCE IN A MOON (JPN) (pictured below)
Completed a strong canter over the Sha Tin turf track under Zac Purton, before schooling in the parade ring.
Purton said: “She seems healthy and bright. She is only small which you already know, but she was just having a bit of a look at the track today. She had a bit of a look around as well. Something frightened her a little bit, but once she got going, she felt nice – her action was good, attitude was good. She pulled up nice. We will do a bit more with her tomorrow and hopefully she will be alright on Sunday.”
Given a 400m breeze out of the gates on the all-weather track under race rider Matthew Chadwick, alongside Time Warp, clocking 21.7s.
Trainer Tony Cruz said: “I was just worried that he got too heavy – as they get older they get heavier, it’s harder to get them fit – and he’s lost a bit of speed, too. But in terms of health, like all of mine, he’s a very healthy horse.”
Signs Of Blessing made his first venture out of quarantine when cantering around the all-weather under Wilfred Conart, showing no outward ill-effects from either the journey or the change of scenery. He picked up the pace slightly entering the home straight, covering the last 400m in 30.6s (15.2, 14.8).
Keen to get moving this morning as he came onto the track with his lead pony. Worked on the turf over 600m in 39.8s (14.4, 13.0, 12.4)
Trainer Peter Miller, who watched the work via video from his California home, said: “He looked well to my eye and travelled well within himself. It was a good leg stretcher and he handled the ground. The team has been telling me the horse is doing really well and his energy levels are high. We’re hoping for a good draw and if he gets that, I think he’ll perform well.”
Another to complete a brisk canter around the Sha Tin all-weather, he completed his final 200m in 13s. He also schooled in the parade ring.
Cyrille Estampes, travelling head lad to trainer Didier Guillemin, said: “He cantered normally this morning and no more. His trainer will be here tomorrow. He has acclimatised well and to my eyes he is at least as well as he was before his last run at Maisons-Laffitte.”
Breezed over 800m on the all-weather track, clocking 59.1s (32.5, 26.6).
LONGINES Hong Kong Vase
Breezed around the all-weather track, looking on good terms with himself.
DANEHILL KODIAC (GB) (pictured below)
Cantered behind fellow British challenger Robin Of Navan (Cup) under big race rider Sean Levey, who partnered him to a gate to wire victory in the G3 Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot in October.
Travelling head lad Tony Gorman commented: “All’s good on the training front and we’re looking for a good gate.” And he added jokingly as he looked towards co-owner Andy Smith: “That’s your responsibility tomorrow!”
Smith said: “This horse owes us nothing especially as we bought him with hurdling in mind, yet he’s only gone and won a G3 at Ascot – beating a horse who was placed in the French Derby! Our horse is really tough and loves to eyeball other horses. We also think that the surface will suit him better than the slow ground that he’s been racing on most of this year.”
Exercised two laps on the small inner all-weather track under Tommy Berry.
Trainer John Moore said: “He appears to be over the lung issue. Obviously the lack of match fitness isn’t ideal, especially against a field as strong as this – I think this is one of the better Vase fields we’ve seen. He will gallop tomorrow (Thursday).”
Jumped out of the stalls from the 400m on the all-weather track alongside Beauty Only (Vase), clocking 22.2s.
Trainer Tony Cruz said: “He’s fit and well and I hope he can run a place.”
Cantered on the main all-weather track under raceday rider Sam Clipperton.
Trainer John Moore said: “I wish we could work out what was going on in his mind, but at least he is well. He will also gallop tomorrow (Thursday).”
Led the Ballydoyle quintet in a regular canter on the all-weather track as he has done the past two days with regular rider Davy Bergin aboard. He completed his last 600m in 46.2s (16.6, 15.4, 14.2).
Aidan O’Brien’s travelling head lad Pat Keating said: “He’s in good form, as they all are. It’s possible that they’ll go on the turf on Thursday, I’ll wait to hear what the boss (O’Brien) decides.”
Worked in the trotting ring before cantering for one and half laps around the Sha Tin all-weather.
The assistant trainer Norihiko Kishimoto said: “He is so relaxed and feels good. Mirco Demuro will gallop him on the turf tomorrow.”
Had an easy canter on the all-weather track after his sharp work-out on the turf yesterday.
David Casey, rider and assistant to trainer Willie Mullins, said: “He’s in good order. He’s so relaxed, he’s almost on the horizontal.”
Worked at three-quarter pace on the turf this morning, running 600m in 40.4s (14.0, 13.2, 13.2).
While still being kept in low gear, he was asked for a fraction more urgency by work-rider Vincent Champion, clocking a final 200m of 14.4s at the end of a 46.8s stretch over 600m. He then schooled in the parade ring. He will be ridden by 2014 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase-winning jockey Maxime Guyon on Sunday.
Godolphin’s representative in France, Lisa-Jane Graffard, said: “He seems in good form and is really just his normal self. He is a good traveller with a good temperament and both Richard (Lambert, travelling head lad) and Vincent are really happy with him. He is following the same sort of programme as he did in America.”
Returned to the all-weather on Wednesday following his Tuesday turf breeze.
Trainer Alain Couetil said: “He remains in good form and I have no reason to change his programme. Tactically he is very flexible, because he has won when making the running and also being held up.”
Tiberian arrives in Hong Kong off the back of a seventh-placed effort in the Melbourne Cup, a challenge which was compromised by being handed a very wide draw at Flemington. “With 11 or 12 runners there won’t be any issue with the draw here and at least he can’t get stall 23 this time!” said Couetil.
Cantered one and a half laps around the Sha Tin all-weather track.
Assistant trainer Kazuo Fujiwara said: “He is in great condition. He’ll breeze tomorrow with Joao Moreira aboard.”
asey’s still giving Max to the Mullins cause
By Steve Moran
Victory in Sunday’s (10 December) HK$18 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) would be especially sweet for Irishman David Casey, who’s entrusted with looking after Max Dynamite, in Hong Kong, for trainer Willie Mullins.
Casey has spent most of his working life with the County Carlow trainer, first as a highly accomplished jumps jockey and more recently as an assistant to the trainer, which has seen him travel Max Dynamite not only to Hong Kong but also to two Melbourne Cups in Australia.
Indeed, he progressed from his race-riding role to the latter with seemingly remarkable haste. Casey retired from jumps riding on 16 September, 2015 and just a week later was accompanying Max Dynamite to Melbourne where he was to finish an unlucky second, beaten a half-length, in Australia’s most famous race.
“It was all very quick. I literally headed to Melbourne a week after my last ride but I’d known about it for some time. Willie had told me there was a job for me, given I knew his system, whenever I chose to retire,” Casey said.
Casey managed to ride a winner at his final meeting. That was aboard the Rich Ricci-owned Long Dog who romped home by almost 10 lengths in a Novice Hurdle at Listowel and the connection continues this week as Max Dynamite is owned by Ricci’s wife Susannah.
“I think that was a little present, for me, from Willie. The horse was long odds-on and Willie put me on even though Ruby (Walsh) had been riding him,” Casey said. Long Dog, in fact, won six consecutive races – including two G1 jumps feature races – that year, with Walsh aboard each time other than at Listowel.
Casey, described by Mullins as an outstanding judge of a horse and an asset to the stable, had great success as a jockey, winning several feature races in England, Ireland and France including Cheltenham festival victories and two French Champion Hurdles.
“Ruby, of course, was number one at the stable but I was always happy with the opportunities which came my way, and several of those were in France where I managed to win three grade ones and a grade three,” he said.
Casey also rode in America, Japan and Australia; competing in International Jockeys Series in the last two named countries, and rode winners at Morphettville and Sandown in Australia.
“I think I rode 40 or 50 winners on the flat and about 800 over the jumps and I did win a Listed race on the flat,” he said.
That win was in the 2001 Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown. Casey won on Rostropovich I, trained by Michael ‘Mouse’ Morris, and he beat none other than the following year’s Melbourne Cup winner Media Puzzle.
“I had a stint with Mouse (Morris) and with Charlie Swan but all the while I’d ride three days a week for Willie, so we’ve been together a long time,” he said.
Casey’s life in racing he confirmed, appropriately enough you could say, began with a bet. “That’s true,” he said when asked whether he joined the Irish apprentices’ school only after a friend had bet him that he wouldn’t.
“I think we bet 50 pounds, not that either of us was ever going to pay up but I wasn’t going to back down, so I became an apprentice jockey. If not for that, I was probably going to be an accountant,” he said. And he did so despite the fact that his experience was no more than riding ponies for a couple of months when still in primary school.
He’s well experienced now and looking forward to Sunday’s challenge. “The horse is fit and well. It’s no easy task on Sunday but he’s done well and if he could pick up some prize money, that would be grand,” Casey said of Max Dynamite, who was third in this year’s Melbourne Cup, a month ago, on 7 November.
Poet’s Word aims to write his name alongside
Stoute’s late-maturing heroes
By David Morgan
LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) contender Poet’s Word has taken a route to Group 1 level that is not altogether common in English racing, yet is certainly familiar to those who keep tabs on Sir Michael Stoute’s runners.
The four-year-old’s gradual rise has come via an educational three-year-old season in handicap grades, just when the best of his peers were being pitched into the classic fray. After advancing to place second in two of Europe’s most prominent 10-furlong G1 races this term, the Poet’s Voice colt heads into Sunday’s (10 December) HK$25 million flagship race with a shout at claiming Sha Tin’s richest prize.
“Looking at the race, we think he has a good chance,” owner Saeed Suhail’s racing manager, Bruce Raymond, said from England. “It’s the Hong Kong Cup and it’s over a mile and a quarter, which will suit him – although he does stay very well and keeps going.”
Stoute, Britain’s champion trainer on 10 occasions has, down the years, excelled at developing raw, slow-maturing colts into honed, high-class athletes. Poet’s Word is just the latest.
“Sir Michael wanted to bring him along slowly as he was a bit on the weak side, but as he has got older he has matured into a strong sort of horse,” Raymond said. “I think Sir Michael has always felt this was a horse with plenty of potential and he was lightly-raced coming into this year.”
The 300,000 guineas Tattersalls October (Book 2) yearling, who in May, 2016 broke his maiden at Nottingham on his third career start, three weeks after failing on the Chelmsford Polytrack, is a nod to some of the Freemason Lodge handler’s past heroes; the likes of Pilsudski, Notnowcato and the Hong Kong International Races pathfinder Soviet Line.
As with each of the above, Poet’s Word was a backward juvenile. Not considered close to the three-year-old elite, all developed through the handicap system, finally stepping up to Group company in their four-year-old seasons. Once there, Pilsudski, Notnowcato and Soviet Line, at least, found that G1 success was not far off.
Poet’s Word, like Pilsudski, won a three-year-old handicap at Glorious Goodwood in the high summer of his education. Pilsudski, a giant of international racing in the 1990s, went on as a four and five-year-old to win six G1s, the Japan Cup, Breeders’ Cup Turf, Eclipse Stakes, Champion Stakes and Irish Champion Stakes among them, and was twice runner-up in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – a tough act to follow.
Poet’s Word’s best win to date came in the G3 Glorious Stakes (2398m) at Goodwood this summer, which is a fair way in arrears of Pilsudski’s finest moments. But in his two outings since then he has run second to Decorated Knight and Cracksman, in the G1 Irish Champion Stakes (2000m) and G1 Champion Stakes (1993m). Those efforts suggest he is at least on the right trajectory. Success in this weekend’s HK$25 million showpiece would give Poet’s Word a Group 1 launch.
Victory, also, would be Stoute’s third at the Hong Kong International Races. The first came when Soviet Line won the fore-runner to the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile, the G3 Hong Kong International Bowl (1400m), in 1994; G1 wins followed for the gelding in the Lockinge Stakes in 1995 and 1996.
Soviet Line’s International Bowl win means the Barbados-born cricket lover, who has called England home ever since he joined Pat Rohan’s stable as a teenager back in 1964, is responsible for giving Britain its first winner at the event. His second triumph came with Daliapour in the 2000 Hong Kong Vase (2400m) and Stoute will saddle the South African-bred mare Smart Call in that race this time around.
It remains to be seen whether or not Poet’s Word has the innate ability within his late-developing frame to turn runner-up G1 finishes into LONGINES Hong Kong Cup triumph. But if the talent is there, he’s with the right man to tap it.
Stoute is due to land in Hong Kong on Thursday afternoon. Poet’s Word had his first experience of the Sha Tin turf on Wednesday (6 December) morning and Raymond is hopeful of a big run before another G1 tilt in Dubai this coming March.
“Poet’s Word has travelled out to Hong Kong well. Although he seems to go on any type of ground, I think he would prefer it on the easy side. If there was a drop of rain, we would be more than happy, but I don’t think it is a necessity. He has won on fast ground before,” he said.
“His main objective after this will be the Dubai Sheema Classic,” he added.
Liberal’s turning right in LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint
By Steve Moran
Courtesy of the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s live streaming of international track work, California trainer Peter Miller was able this morning to watch his G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) contender Stormy Liberal go through his paces at Sha Tin Racecourse.
Miller, still able to delight in his two Breeders’ Cup wins in November, has entrusted the final Hong Kong preparation of Stormy Liberal – one of his two Del Mar winners - to his friend and fellow trainer Dan Blacker, but is readily able to monitor the progress of the gelded son of Stormy Atlantic.
And he was pleased with what he saw online today: “He looked well to my eye and travelled well within himself. It was a good leg stretcher and he handled the ground. The team is telling me the horse is doing really well and his energy levels are high. We’re hoping for a good draw and if he gets that, I think he’ll perform well.”
Stormy Liberal worked over 600m in 39.8s, coming home the last 200m in 12.4s. “He wasn’t out to break the clock but worked well and Silvestre (de Sousa) was pleased with how he felt,” he said.
The temptation in Hong Kong is to dismiss the chances of American-trained horses given their lack of familiarity with racing right-handed, but Miller is hopeful that won’t be an issue for his five-year-old who has won five of his past six starts.
“Going right-handed is always a question and there are a lot of things to overcome as an American horse in a very different racing environment, but we breezed him three times, at home, going what we would call the wrong way and he was fine; switching leads on queue. Today was the fourth time and he was good again,” he said.
“The going and the distance will suit him in Hong Kong and he’s the right horse to try with. He’s not a bleeder, he doesn’t need Lasix.”
Stormy Liberal’s five wins in 2017 sees him enter with near flawless form this year but for one failure at Belmont in June, but Miller is prepared to forgive that performance: “He missed the break that day and was then rushed up. That’s never a successful tactical move. He was probably also tailing off by then after a long campaign but he’s very sharp again now.
“He came out of the Breeders’ Cup fresh and sharp and that’s why we looked at Hong Kong. He’d had almost five months off before the Breeders Cup and the race didn’t take too much out of him,” he said.
Miller concedes it’s difficult for him to precisely understand the form of his rivals but suspects his horse, who he refers to simply as Stormy, will measure up.
“Even reading the form is different but I’d say he fits well with this group. They look evenly matched as best as I can work out and I think Stormy is absolutely good enough, as I said, if he gets the good draw and the good trip,” Miller said.
Stormy Liberal is tactically versatile according to his trainer. “He’s won on the lead and from coming off the pace. You’d like to draw the inner half of the field to have options,” he said.
Miller said home commitments had prevented him from making the trip to Hong Kong. “I’ve got a big barn of 80 horses to look after and we’re prepping a filly for a Grade 1 here on Saturday. Dan and his wife Christina are good friends of ours and it’s a quiet time for Dan at the moment so it made sense for them to go on a working holiday,” he said.
Miller’s Saturday Grade 1 contender is War Heroine in the Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos. The Lonhro filly won on debut, by almost seven lengths, when ridden by America’s LONGINES IJC representative Flavien Prat.
Only two previous Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winners have contested the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint and each finished fifth – Mongolian Saturday in 2015 and California Flag in 2009.
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