(Sha Tin track notes)
Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) 2007 winner Kip Deville came out earlier than normal on Saturday at Sha Tin and trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. said his horse was "giving all the signs that he'll run big" in the Dec. 14 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile (HK-I).
"Michelle Nevin, my assistant, rides him everyday and she has been very happy with his progression and says he has adapted well - very well in fact - to switching leads to the right," Dutrow said. "I guess he's not been done any favors by the gate in 12 but I expect he'll break well for Cornelio Velasquez and race handy."
Europe's top sprinter, the Freddie Head trained Marchand D'Or, made his first move this week when flying in a short sharp piece on the all weather track. The grey stopped the clock at 22.2 seconds for the last 400m and Head seemed delighted with the horse's well being.
Patrick Barbe, representing owner Stefan Friborg, was sounding hopeful rather than confident as he watched Mile candidate Natagora limber up on the sand. "She's a three-year-old filly taking on older male milers, and that's going to be difficult. But maybe Good Ba Ba is not in such a good form as last year."
American Cup raider Artiste Royal also did some light work: "He's a neat horse and a smart horse. He also comes here a fresh horse and I don't think there will be problems going the other way," said assistant trainer John O'Donoghue, representing Neil Drysdale who is staying at home with flu.
Apache Cat, one of the headline horses of tomorrow's Hong Kong International extravaganza, continues to thrive in his new home much to the delight of trainer Greg Eurell whose confidence grows day by day.
Apache Cat had a leisurely hit-out on the all-weather this morning but it was the pre-gallop indicators which had Eurell enthusiastic about the prospects of the distinctively marked sprinter.
"He was bucking and squealing in the trotting ring. That's how well he is. It's hard to imagine a horse could adapt so well to a new environment. He loves it here so let's hope that translates to Sunday's race. It's got to be a good sign that he's done so well," Eurell said.
Others horse to please certainly include Doctor Dino, who has blossomed in the past three days and his Vase rival Purple Moon who is described as having a "decent shout" on Sunday by trainer Luca Cumani.
Pressing impressed the work watchers at Sha Tin as he was put through his final paces before tomorrow's Hong Kong Mile.