(Edited Sha Tin track notes)
Eagle Mountain, a leading challenger for the HK$20m Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup (HK-I) on Dec. 14, impressed with a spectacular gallop on the grass at Sha Tin Dec. 9.
Ridden by Kevin Shea, Eagle Mountain had little trouble clocking 21.8 seconds for the last 400m of a 1200m workout to leave trainer Mike de Kock in buoyant mood.
“He has travelled nicely to Hong Kong and that was a good blowout there. I don't think we have seen the best of Eagle Mountain yet. He is lightly raced and comes here with fresh legs, which is a great advantage. He is peaking now and I am confident of a good run on Sunday,” de Kock said. “I think this trip will really suit him. He had the speed to set a track record for the mile at Newmarket on his first run back and then was close to a breakneck gallop in the Breeders' Cup Turf and was only found wanting in the last 150m or so.
“I think he has the ability to be equally as good as Archipenko and maybe even be better.”
Trainer John Moore and jockey Darren Beadman have made a great start to the new Hong Kong racing season and are confident their good fortune can continue in the Hong Kong Cup with the likely favorite Viva Pataca.
Beadman, who had ridden Hong Kong's highest rated performer in nine of his past ten starts, says the gelding has returned to racing in better shape than ever.
“His two wins this season have been very comfortable, without going to the bottom of the tank either time and he's pulled up terrifically well from both those runs,” Beadman said of the 6-year-old. “His feet are good, he's working well and at this stage everything has gone to plan.”
Beadman also rides Able One, for Moore, in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile (HK-I) and Douro Valley, for Australian trainer Danny O'Brien, in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase (HK-I).
Christophe Soumillon teamed up for the first time with Good Ba Ba, the defending Hong Kong Mile champion, in a turf hit-out over 1400m that wound up in a time of 22 seconds for the final 400 meters.
Trainer Andreas Schutz was pleased with the work and declared the Horse of the Year in the same form as when a short-head winner of this race last year.
“He wasn't at his best when the season started. He was coughing and it only cleared up about three days before his first run. It's being a different preparation this time around with different results but he's still as good as last year, no question,” said Schutz. “He has come on as I would have hoped since the Mile Trial and now back to level weights I'm confident of him running to his best form.”
Hong Kong horses are gunning for a third straight home win in the Mile and Good Ba Ba's challenge is considerably bolstered by, among others, the devastating winner of last month's Cathay Pacific International Mile Trial, Egyptian Ra; a former runner-up in this race, Armada; and the 2007 Champions Mile kingpin, Able One.