MIKE de Kock, who arrived in Hong Kong on Thursday, is well pleased with what he has seen of both Musir and River Jetez, his contenders for Monday’s BMW Champions Mile and next Sunday’s APQEII Cup respectively.
Musir, whose test comes in a quality Mile, was the one getting the final touches put on a preparation which has been supervised until now by De Kock’s assistant Steven Jell. De Kock was happy with him and had no qualms about the four-year-old’s drop in distance from the 2000m of his latest start in the Dubai World Cup on 26 March.
Musir, working at Sha-Tin on Sunday. (hkjc.com).
“I think he might be better over the mile in fact, because he’s got that good acceleration,” said the South African internationalist. “Going to the turf shouldn’t be any problem either as he goes very well on Tapeta, and Tapeta is very similar to turf. A lot of horses make a good transition from one to the other and I expect him to. A little bit of rain wouldn’t do him any harm, but the Sha Tin turf looks very good to me anyway. There’s a nice covering and it definitely isn’t rock hard. I’d like to see him closer to the speed than he has been, in the top four perhaps as he doesn’t have to come from so far back.”
Of those Musir will have to beat in the Champions Mile, Royal Bench continued to work impressively, completing a final 400m on the all weather in a time of 23.6 that put a broad smile on trainer Robert Collet’s face. “That was good,” said Collet. “He’s very well and I am very happy with him.”
John Moore, however, at least in numerical terms and perhaps in terms of quality too, leads the Hong Kong defence of the prize no visiting horse has won since the race was opened to international competition in 2005. The Australian is proud to have four runners in the BMW Champions Mile: “I think it’s the product of a lot of hard work we’ve done in finding horses overseas that we’ve got four selected for a race of this quality, and not just there to make up the numbers either but with a real chance of getting into the money.”
Champion Miler Able One leads the quartet in terms of ratings, and Moore is very satisfied with the progress he’s made since recovering from the hairline fracture which ruled him out of the CXHK Mile in December and that kept him off the course for more than three months. “I would have preferred a longer lead up than the 1000m race he’s had but that race was all that was on offer for him. The report I’ve had from stable jockey Darren Beadman is that the horse is very close to being back to his best, and with the gate he’s drawn he’s got a very good chance of winning. Darren chose Xtension on the grounds that he is a very fit horse going into this race, but if he had to decide again now he might have to think hard.
“Xtension anyway is very well. We’ve managed to hold him at his Derby peak and he hasn’t given Darren the feeling that he’s going to find the mile too short. He’s going to be in the firing line all right.”
Sunny King has returned from Dubai where he ran third to Rocket Man in the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen “in great shape” according to his trainer. “The horse is in good condition now. But you never quite know how a trip like his to Dubai has affected their chemistry. And we won’t find that out until Monday.”
Moore plans to send him to Royal Ascot in June for a tilt at the G1 Golden Jubilee if owner Matthew Wong Leung Pak agrees because: “I think the 1200m there rides more like 1400m which will suit him.”
Moore’s fourth contender is Let Me Fight, and this talented horse remains a puzzle even to Hong Kong’s all time leading trainer. “He has so much ability,” says Moore “but if he has to work at all in his races his ears go back and he doesn’t put it all in. It’s unfortunate that he’s drawn wide as that may mean he’ll have to be taken back, but he’s good enough to get involved in the finish if he wants to.”
HK-based Australian Jockey Brett Prebble is optimistic about his prospects of claiming a third BMW Champions Mile win aboard the Caspar Fownes-trained four-year-old Lucky Nine after assessing the horse’s progress this week.
Prebble, already the leading Champions Mile jockey with wins aboard Bullish Luck (2006) and Sight Winner (2009) since 2005, rode Lucky Nine in his Tuesday trial win over Ambitious Dragon and was a keen observer when the horse breezed up 400m on turf this morning in 24.7.
“He looks well and he felt good when I rode him on Tuesday morning. He’s got an awesome turn of foot when he’s on song and he just might finish up getting the right run in the race on Monday.
“He was very good winning the Classic Mile at his only go at the trip and his two runs since were good even though he probably wasn’t quite himself, probably not quite at the top of his game,” Prebble said.
While Beauty Flash and Able One look likely to be the first two on settling in Monday’s Group 1, Lucky Nine is poised to be parked just behind the speed in company with Sight Winner and, perhaps, Musir. The other nine runners almost invariably settle well off the pace.
“Hopefully we’ll be in the right spot to pounce and maybe pinch a break on a few of the others,” Prebble said. -from hkjc.com.
Photo: Musir in the paddock at Sha-Tin. (hkjc.com).