Jockey Jose Santos, who will ride U.S. hopeful Charge d'Affairs, said Friday morning that he's "not all that familiar with the competition" he'll be facing in the HK$10-million Hong Kong Mile. So, Santos will spend most of the afternoon and tomorrow as well watching videos of the other horses, particularly the ones from Europe. "I've ridden Charge d'Affairs six times in races," Santos said, "and he's never been as good as he is right now. He's a stalking horse, and that's the sort of trip we expect to have on Sunday. He's my best chance," added Santos who also rides Forbidden Apple, also for trainer Christophe Clement, in the Cup.
In his most recent start, the 1,700-meter Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park on November 25, U.S. hopeful Native Desert finished third by a half-length to Charge d'Affairs. This Sunday's Hong Kong Mile will be 100 meters shorter than the 'Citation, and Native Desert will have a new jockey, Kent Desormeaux, who anticipates "a stalking trip."Native Desert merely cantered over the all-weather track at Sha Tin this morning."He's race fit," notes trainer Juan Garcia, who has no problems with the 11-slot his horse drew at yesterday's barrier draw.
The leading rider in Hong Kong so far this season Douglas Whyte, reckons his best chance from two International rides is on New Trumps, trained by Wong Tang-ping. "He's come through his preparation immensely and he's on the upgrade," he said.
"His lead-up race he won very well and his work has got better and better since then. He's got gate one and obviously it's a very tough race, but from where I'm positioned I'm hoping to get the run of the race," he added.
Australian horse Testa Rossa worked strongly over 1400 meters on the grass with race jockey Brett Prebble in the saddle. 'He's bouncing. He feels better than ever to me,' Prebble said. Testa Rossa weighed in at 520 kilograms He was the same weight when he won the Group one Lightning Stakes at Flemingon in Australia last February.
Champion New Zealand mare Sunline continues to please her connections. "She's terrific in herself. Every bit as good as she was before she won the Cox Plate this year," said trainer Trevor McKee who added that it was not imperative for Sunline to lead to win. "She can take a sit if that's the way the race pans out,' he said. His son and co-trainer Steve McKee is also confident Sunline will perform to her best on Sunday. "She'll be very hard to beat this year. We had a few hiccups last year but everything's gone to plan this time around. She's a different horse altogther," said Steve McKee who named Fairy King Prawn and Charge d'Affaires as the hardest to beat. The mighty mare has her own Website so you can find out more about her at www.sunline.com.nz.
Local trainer David Hayes reported that his late Mile inclusion Charming City worked well this morning along with his two other International runners Helene Vitality and Helene Express. 'They did some striding work. That's all they needed. If they're not fit now they never will be. All three horses are well," Hayes said. "Charming City would be a group 1 horse in Australia so I think he can be competitive on Sunday. On the balance of his form he deserved to be called up for the race. We'll decide on the day whether we will have him go on the speed or ride him cold," he added.
Adam's trainer Ray Brock could not attend trackwork this morning due to illness. The horse is being looked after by Sally Bayley who reports that he is in fine shape. "He's dappled up and looking a picture. He lost eight kilograms coming over but has put that back on bar a kilo and a half," Bayley said. Adam this morning worked strongly on the grass -- at full gallop from the 600 meters.