Stoute Pair Work Toward Hong Kong Vase

Johnny Murtagh rode work on the grass on Michael Stoute's pair Daliapour and Greek Dance at Sha Tin Friday morning in perparation for the Hong Kong Vase. Murtagh, bidding for a 12th group I win this year said: "I am delighted with them. Greek Dance breezed over 800 meters; he is a bit lazy when he is working on his own but there is no prize money today and I will make him go a bit faster on Sunday. Michael's lads keep telling me how well he has been working and he felt good and fresh when he pulled up. Daliapour is in great shape and I am looking forward to riding him."

Stoute's fellow Newmarket trainer, Michael Jarvis, is very happy with his filly, Ela Athena's, build up to Sunday. He said: "I have not done much with her here as she is perfectly fit. She is taking in all the surroundings here and her weight has been level since she arrived here from the Japan Cup. She was not drawn well in one in Japan and now she has got stall two which isn't much better but she will enjoy the fast ground."

Many believe that David Hayes' Helene Vitality has a stronger chance of keeping the Vase on home soil than the Ivan Allan-trained stalwarts, Indigenous and Oriental Express.

Hayes said his New Zealand Derby winner is "a very unimpressive horse to look at." "He's probably one of the worst-actioned Group horses I've ever trained but he's got a great heart. and his preparation has gone well. We're very happy with him."

Seven-time Hong Kong champion Basil Marcus nominated Helene Vitality as the pick of his three rides in the Internationals. "He'll be competitive," said Marcus.

"We were hoping for the five post, and we got the six, so yesterday's barrier draw was near perfection for us," said James Picou, trainer of U.S. hopeful Val's Prince. "Our jockey, Frankie Dettori, told me he considers what we got as ideal, because he'll be able to keep his eye on the early speed, which will prevent anyone from running off on us."

German challenger, Caitano, pleased trainer Andreas Schutz in his final gallop, under regular work rider Lazlo Seres stretching out well on the turf down the home straight. His fellow German trainer Andreas Wohler also expressed himself delighted with his charge Silvano." He had a nice easy gallop on the turf and just quickened up in the straight. He's very well and I couldn't be happier with him.

Trainer Peter Schiergen put the finishing touches to the third German challenger, the four-year-old filly Catella, who stretched her legs on the main all-weather track. He said: "She's had a long season, but I am confident that she has retained her form. She had a little rest after the Breeders' Cup, and she' in the same sort of form now. I feel she should run well.

New Zealander Second Coming worked over 1000 meters this morning. "We just asked him to run up the last 600 meters and Michael (Coleman) told me he felt good," said Melbourne Cup winning trainer Mike Moroney.

Moroney, however, is still concerned about the horse's loss of condition. "He weighed 471 kilograms this morning," Moroney said. "He was 489 kilograms when he ran third in the Melbourne Cup so I would hope he would put on a few kilos before Sunday.'"