Defending champion, Jim And Tonic looked in great shape Friday morning at Sha Tin, as he finalized his preparation for Sunday's HK$14 million Hong Kong Cup, the last leg of the Emirates World Series Racing Championship. Under big race jockey, Gerald Mosse, Jim And Tonic quickened the tempo in the straight for the last 400 meters in front of a large crowd of morning trackwork watchers.
Trainer Francois Doumen said, " He's very well. The fact that he's not raced much of late is balanced by the fact that he's a fresh horse. He won very well in bad ground last time, and had a couple of good workouts at home afterwards. I am confident that he still retains all his ability and his turn of foot."
Mosse has no fears with draw seven for his ride. He has won here drawn one and fourteen. "He sits and the draw is no big deal with him," Mosse said. Referring to his narrow defeat in the AP QE II Cup in April, he added: "I was too confident on him that day and the slight interference he met with when making his finish cost us the race."
Fellow French challenger, Hidalguia, who last ran a fine fourth to Petrushka in the Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp in early October, has not worked since she arrived in Hong Kong and she only did light work on the main all-weather today.
Her trainer, Jean de Roualle, said: "Hidalguia did three good workouts at Chantilly before she came, the last of which was last Thursday. She is an improving filly, who likes fast ground and I am very hopeful she can get into the frame. She has the potential to do so. The only problem is her 13 draw."
"Our plan is to do virtually nothing between now and Sunday," said Ben Cecil, trainer of U.S. hopeful Falcon Flight. "That was the plan from the start, to prepare as much as we could back home (in Southern California) and take it very, very easy in Hong Kong, until race day itself. Falcon Flight's got a hell of a late foot, and I'm anticipating that it will serve him very well in this race. He's been competing at 1800 meters this year, but I've always felt that 2000 meters is actually his best distance."
The last time that U.S. hopeful Forbidden Apple drew the number one post, he won an allowance race by a half-length at Saratoga. "Yes, but I'm not looking for a half-length win this time, I want it to be two or three lengths," said jockey Jose Santos this morning. "The number one post doesn't bother me. It's a short run to the first turn here and Forbidden Apple has the speed to take advantage of this."
Forbidden Apple's trainer, Christophe Clement, "The number one post matters not. I told Jose, "It puts everyone else in the position where they have to catch up with you, and then decide if they're going to try to go around you. This is a great opportunity for us. I like the way everything's working out."
Tony Cruz was noticeably bullish about his outsider Lord Of Warriors for the race. The champion Hong Kong trainer said: "I think he's equal to every other horse in the race. It won't be a big surprise to me if he comes in. He likes to make his run on the outside and being drawn five should not be a problem for him. His training has gone very well. He's a horse that's easy to train.
Brian Kan Ping-chee, trainer of Industrialist, told the local media that following a leg problem in September, his usual method of racing his horses to peak performance has suffered a slight setback. However, the tough ex-British gelding showed up really well on his first run this year behind Helene Vitality late last month and he has been working well, blazing over 1200m in a time of 1:12 earlier this week.
Three-year-old German Champion and World Series Championship contender Samum worked with stable mate Elle Danzig. Trainer Andreas Schutz was very happy with their performance. "You couldn't split them on this morning's work, but Samum is always lazy and Elle Danzig is a good work horse. Samum always goes up a gear on race day. Elle Danzig is a smart performer, she is very confident having won her last start by six lengths. She has got a bad draw in 14, we haven't decided on a race plan for her we'll just have to see how it pans out."
Singapore trainer Malcolm Thwaites says he is hopeful rather than confident Ouzo will perform well in the Cup. "Hopefully he will run well. He arrived here on the fifth and he's done well. We've had no hiccups with him. He's a very genuine horse who likes a decent pace and we usually don't have any worries with him when he travels.
'He certainly knows where the winning post is in Singapore. We'll find out now if he knows where it is in Hong Kong. He's beaten Jim And Tonic and he was eight wide all the way in Dubai after I probably gave the rider the wrong instructions so his form is solid,' Thwaites said.
Australian representative Shogun Lodge worked at three-quarter pace over 1200 meters on the grass with race jockey Shane Dye in the saddle. 'All's well with him,' Dye said, "he looks and feels pretty good."
David Hayes said his charge Helene Express would have to be 'ridden for luck' given the quality of the opposition. 'He didn't have much luck last year so maybe it will be his turn for some good fortune this time around,' Hayes said.