It was not a good morning for English trainer Jeremy Glover at trackwork this morning.
First he discovered, George Duffield, the jockey for his Perryston View, had gone down with food poisoning and must be considered doubtful for the big Hong Kong Sprint on Sunday and then his horse bolted with his new jockey, John Reid, whilst hacking home during trackwork.
Glover said: "I wanted my horse to trot back towards the quarantine barn but he took off with John when he started to hack and came back past me very fast. I thought he was going to go through the fence behind the 1000-metre start but luckily he stopped."
Nuclear Debate, with cotton wool in his ears, looked very relaxed as he worked nicely on the dirt with big race jockey, Gerald Mosse, aboard.
Mosse was very happy with him but France's strong favorite for the sprint was acquitted with cotton wool to block out any noise, which can wind him up.
Trainer John Hammond said: "I feel he is very fit even though he has not run for a long time. If he gets beat it will not be a case of fitness. If I use the cotton wool on Sunday I suspect it will only be in the paddock. He probably will not run with it."
Last year Nuclear Debate did handle the razzmatazz of the pre-race parade which is obviously a worry for connections again this year.
Hammond added: "The good thing is that there should be plenty of pace on in the race and he wants a strongly run five furlongs."
Nuclear Debate's rider Gerald Mosse said: "He's the horse. He has shown how good he is in England in the summer and we know he will run better here this year."
Eastern Purple, with Basil Marcus up, worked over 800 meters with mile contender, Sugarfoot (John Reid) after which his trainer, Kevin Ryan, said: "I am delighted with him and he is a good as I can get him. He is in the right frame of mind. He's happy. He will love the ground."
United Arab Emirates horse Bertolini, impressed in a strong piece of work with his usual work-rider Brian Proctor.
Jockey Kent Desormeaux, who as of this morning has registered 3,986 career victories, has never before ridden on a 1,000-meter straightaway. Neither has he ever been aboard Big Jag. Desormeaux has never before ridden at Sha Tin. And many observers feel that Big Jag might be better set for six furlongs now, instead of the five he'll be going. "I'm looking to win, though, on Sunday," Desormeaux said this morning. "I know this horse is ready. I'm ready. I've got mounts in all the International Races, and each one of them is a live opportunity."
Although 12-1 in the British books, U.S. contender Morluc has been one of the sharpest looking competitors during morning exercises this week. Shane Sellers, a veteran of the Hong Kong International races, will be aboard him. All four of Morluc's victories this year have come at distances ranging from five to six furlongs.
Douglas Whyte, who will partner Best Of The Best, the highest-rated locally-trained horse in the Sprint, offered reservations about his gelding's wide berth from stall 14. "He prefers it inside but having said that he loves the straight 1000m and he's in good form," the South African jockey said.
Another Hong Kong horse, the Australian-bred three-year-old King Of Danes, is in great shape according to his mentor, the in-form champion trainer, Tony Cruz. "He is the youngest in the field but he has a lot of natural speed and I feel he's got a chance. He's drawn smack in the middle of the field and he'll be hot on the pace."
Australian sprinters Falvelon and Black Bean both look to be in good shape. Falvelon has impressed his trainer Dan Bougoure and most observers all week. He had only a light canter this morning. "All's well with him. We couldn't be happier," Bougoure said.
Black Bean's trainer Matthew Ellerton is more enthusiastic now about his charge than earlier in the week. "He wasn't too bright when he arrived but he's really picked up now. I think he's as good as he can be now. He didn't do much this morning but he won't work by himself. He had his ears pricked and he didn't need a hard gallop," Ellerton said.
Black Bean weighed in at 573 kilograms this morning. "His optimum weight is 585 kilograms but I would have expected him to be a bit lighter here. Ideally, I would like to have been here a week earlier but I'm sure he's well. He was kicking and squealing yesterday afternoon. It's very hard to know how he'll perform on Sunday. I just hope he doesn't disappoint us all," Ellerton said.