The Hong Kong Cup (HK-I), run over 1 1/4 miles, finds the first bend looming quickly as the horses come out of the start, and gate speed and/or a favorable inside draw is often advantageous.
German representative Paolini drew post 1. "I'm delighted with the draw," said trainer Andreas Wohler. "We're very lucky with post one but I hope I haven't used up all my luck before the race."
Paolini worked on the grass behind Vase hope Ekraar Thursday morning under jockey Andreas Suborics, fresh from a double at Happy Valley the previous evening. The dual group I winner once again got a little warm but Wohler was happy. "He is moving well. He needs this good surface. That is why he never races in Germany. All this horse deserves is some luck."
Grandera drew post 8 with Eishin Preston outside him in nine. Both horses are suited with the room to stretch out. "I have to say I am very happy with all my horses and all the barrier positions they have drawn," said Saeed bin Suroor trainer of Grandera.
Grandera, the morning line favorite, worked Thursday with usual companion, Atlantis Prince. He was keen to get on with his work and rider John Phelan was having a tough time keeping him steady around the backstretch, the horse carrying his head high and at an angle. Bin Suroor was at the track to watch his team work having just arrived in from Dubai. "Grandera is my best chance but he thinks a lot," bin Suroor said. "Still, the travelling suits him. He is a good horse--but the races are tough here so he will need to be."
David Elsworth, trainer of Indian Creek, who drew post 11, said: "Better there than to be drawn one, two, or three. Better to be drawn wide with a hold up horse."
Indian Creek looked as good on the track as he has all week under his scheduled rider, Richard Quinn. Elsworth was at track work for the first time and he was equally pleased with his son of Indian Ridge. "We had considered the Cox Plate in Australia with him but have waited for this," Elsworth said. "I tell you, he is not a bad horse--very similar in class to Lear Spear, who was third in the Cup here a few years ago. He has won a group III and has been placed in a group I and I think there is a good one in him. He will work tomorrow."
American hope Sarafan drew post 6, which is probably ideal for a horse likely to take a sit third or fourth behind the speed. "We're very happy," said handler Robert Guest. "We'll drop him in just off the speed so stall six is ideal."
Sarafan had another quiet day, gently stretching his legs on the all weather track. Squealing and bucking, he looked fresh and well ahead of Sunday when he will bid to go one better than his second-place finish in the Japan Cup (Jpn-I) last month.
Eishin Preston's assistant trainer, Mr. Fujiwara said: "The ninth position is good because we can watch Sarafan and Grandera inside us. This is ideal and our jockey Yuichi Fukunaga wanted to draw a middle position."
Trainer Shuji Kitahashi was overseeing the work of last year's HK Mile winner, Eishin Preston, on turf this morning where he did a fast breeze. The trainer commented: "He demonstrated his good form today. He is very relaxed and he is in really good condition. I am hoping for three consecutive victories in Hong Kong."
Denmark's raider Dano-Mast quickened up well under trainer Flemming Poulsen on the all weather. The gelding has done a lot of work this week and is looking primed and ready for his attempt at a first group I victory.
Macau runner Royal Treasure's jockey Christophe Soumillon said after a brisk turf workout: "I was pleasantly surprised by the feel he gives me. I feel privileged to be part of the first Macau horse to compete in these races."
It was another quiet day for the home team's Cup runners with little fast work done though two of Hong Kong's seven Cup runners, Housemaster and Come See You both worked to the satisfaction of their trainer Ivan Allan on the Riverside gallops.
Hong Kong Cup (HK-I), 1 1/4 miles
PP, Horse, Country
1, Paolini, Ger
2, Housemaster, HK
3, Dano-Mast, Denmark
4, Red Pepper, HK
5, Come See You, HK
6, Sarafan, USA
7, Dr More, HK
8, Grandera, UAE
9, Eishin Preston, Jpn
10, Royal Treasure, Macau
11, Indian Creek, GB
12, Cellini, HK
13, Precision, HK