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2008 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races
Workout Photos

The striking Australian sprinter Apache Cat comes on to the track Monday morning.
Date: 12/08/2008

While most of the 35 visiting Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International (CXHK) contenders ventured on to the Sha Tin track this morning, it was really only the Australian challengers Douro Valley (CXHK Vase) and Apache Cat (CXHK Sprint) who put in any serious work on the turf and all weather tracks respectively. It was a nice, sunny morning and slightly cool, making it perfect weather for the horses.

Entries for the 2008 International Races

Abbadjinn is in from Germany for the CXHK Sprint where he has 4 wins this year, including his last two start. This will be his first start outside Germany.

Apache Cat strode a strong 800 metres in 50.5 seconds on the all-weather, zipping home the last 400 metres in 22.5, which pleased his trainer Greg Eurell. "He had a good gallop which is what we wanted. He's settled in so well here I think he was looking forward to a bit of decent work," Eurell said.

Eurell reported that the striking six-year-old was 530 kg on landing last week but had put on condition in the past few days. "He's 540 kilos (kilograms) now and that's around his optimum racing weight. It's a good indicator with him. He was 538 kilos when he last raced in Western Australia. He's eating and drinking as you'd hope and I would say he has settled in very, very well," Eurell said.

American runner Awesome Gem (CXHK Mile) had a routine canter on the all weather track.

On Thursday, December 11, the track vet put Awesome Gem on the list of horses showing signs of stress from travelling to Hong Kong along with Moorhouse lad and Abbadjinn. Dr. Riggs said all these horses appear well in themselves and will continue to be monitored in the lead up to their respective races. He said at this stage he is of the opinion all three horses are suitable to race.

Balius is in from France for the CXHK Cup. He also came to Hong Kong in May for the QE II Cup where he was second to Archipenko. His trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias said about his draw of post 13, "Not worried, he's not going to be on the lead anyway."

Defending CXHK Vase champion Doctor Dino appeared to be happy to be back on familiar ground, and his regular work rider Eric Gandon was smiling as he confirmed the horse's well being on the way back to the barn.

"He likes it here and there were problems with the transport and to look at him, I'd say he is in the same form now as last year when he won the race," Gandon said.

Australian trainer Danny O'Brien (who arrives Wednesday) was not on hand to see his charge Douro Valley work strongly on the course proper but would almost certainly have had an encouraging report from foreman Paul Koumis. Douro Valley worked over 1200 metres in 1.15.8 seconds with a rousing last 400 metres in 22.8.

Eagle Mountain, a leading challenger for the CXHK Cup was out for a gallop on the all weather course. His trainer Mike De Kock said, "He has travelled nicely to Hong Kong and that was a good blowout there. I don't think we have seen the best of Eagle Mountain yet. He is lightly raced and comes here with fresh legs, which is a great advantage. He is peaking now and I am confident of a good run on Sunday. I think this trip will really suit him. He had the speed to set a track record for the mile at Newmarket on his first run back and then was close to a breakneck gallop in the Breeders' Cup Turf and was only found wanting in the last 150m or so."

"I think he has the ability to be equally as good as Archipenko and maybe even be better," De Kock concluded in reference to his winner of the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup, Archipenko, at this course and distance in April.

Estejo was bred in Germany and is trained by a German, but he mostly has raced in Italy. He comes into the CXHK Cup off a win in the Prix Roma (G1) on November 9.

American CXHK Mile entrant Kip Deville had a routine canter on the all weather course. The 2007 Breeders' Cup Mile winner Kip Deville looked particularly well and connections are happy with the way the horse has adapted to going right handed on the track since his arrival in Hong Kong. His exercise rider Michelle Nevin commented that the right handed track would be "no problem at all".

Laa Rayb comes into the CXHK Mile off a second place finish in the Challenge Stakes (G2) at Newmarket in England.

The four-year-old Japanese sprinter Laurel Guerreiro looked very well when he cantered on the all-weather track under his regular exercise rider Mitsuo Uegomori who said: "He wanted to go faster but that is a good sign for him; he is in very good condition."

CXHK Cup hope Linngari left trainer Sir Michael Stoute's travelling head lad more than happy, and hoping and anticipating a big show for his final career start before taking up stud duties.

"He knows exactly where he is, and I can tell he is happy as he is eating and drinking well. Jockey Ryan Moore will be here to give him some serious work on Friday," said James Savage.

Linngari, third to New Approach in Newmarket's Champion Stakes last time out, has twice raced at Sha Tin before - finishing fifth in the CXHK Mile in 2006.

Loup Breton and Trincot are both French based runners for the CXHK Cup. Loup Breton is trained by Ellie Lalouche and comes in off a second place finish in the Prix Dollar (G2) on Arc de Triomphe weekend to Trincot who is trained Philippe Demercastel.

Lush Lashes, Ireland's big hope in the Cup, looked to have travelled well as she limbered up for her first clash of the year against the colts. She looked bright and happy as she took her surrounding for the first time as she limbered up on the all-weather. [p] Trainer Jim Bolger was not very enthusiastic about her post position draw of #10. He said, "It's not ideal, but I'll go there with no pre-conceived ideas. There's no point in having a fixed plan. We'll leave it to Kevin [Manning, jockey]"

The Freddy Head trained champion sprinter in Europe, Marchand D'Or, made a gentle lap of the all weather track. On his draw of post position 4 for the Sprint, trainer Freddy Head said, "That is a good draw. I am not worried about the bend and the ground should not be too fast. I've had a great year and maybe a win here as well would be too much to ask but, on paper, the sprint does look a two-horse race - us and Apache Cat."

Trainer Herman Brown was hardly dismissive of springing a surprise in the CXHK Vase with probably one of the lesser fancied overseas raiders, Mourilyan, who he said "was unlucky not to finish second or third" in the Canadian International at his last start. He was tracking Quijano and got held up at the top of the home straight but despite that he was only a neck behind Doctor Dino at the finish and he will be one of the favourites for Sunday," Brown said of the horse owned by Ramzan Kadyrov, the President of Chechnya.

Brown will apply blinkers for the first time to Mourilyan on Sunday and expects the four-year-old will travel a little further forward than his usual position near the tail of the field. "He has travelled over here very well better than me, in fact!" the jet-lagged South African trainer added, "and given a clear run I expect him to run a big race."

French jockey Christophe Lemaire was taking a keen interest in his CXHK Mile contender, Natagora. Lemaire felt there was no need for him to partner the filly prior to Sunday but feels a likely strong tempo will play to her strengths. "There are some speed horses in the race and I think that she will like having one or two horses ahead of her early on. The ground has also been too soft for her on most of her starts, so we are looking forward to her racing on a quick surface. She looks in great shape," he said.

American Out Of Control (CXHK Cup) had a routine canter on the all weather track. So far his connections have been very quiet.

Jockey Andreas Suborics who will ride Poseidon Adventure in the CXHK Vase reported his horse to be in good shape. "He's fine, and I think it is an open race. I think he can pick up his share of some prize-money with a bit of luck. Being in the first five would be great."

Purple Moon (CXHK Vase) looked in fine fettle as he did a routine half-speed workout on the all-weather track at Sha Tin today and pleased his regular Japanese work rider.

"He seems very well," confirmed Nirina Rakotoarisoa about the Luca Cumani-trained five-year-old, a fair ninth in the Japan Cup last month. Purple Moon bids to give his trainer a second victory at this meeting having won the 2003 Hong Kong Cup with Falbrav.

Ian Willows, travelling head lad to Cumani, was equally happy with Purple Moon. "He has come out of the Japan Cup well. The race was not run to suit us there and that was a big disappointment. They normally go a decent pace which they didn't this year.

French trainer Jean-Marie Beguigne travelled to Hong Kong last year with Spirito Del Vento in the Mile and went home after never-nearer sixth place wondering what might have been with a kinder draw than barrier 13.

"He had to be ridden back and wide a year ago so I hope he can be closer to the rails and the pace this year with gate that is more inside. He is just as good this year, if not a little better, so I think he can improve on last year's position," said Beguigne, "and he will not have any problem with the ground fast or heavy, it's the same for him."

Japan's leading CXHK Mile candidate Super Hornet, who beat the Tenno Sho Autumn champion Vodka in the 1800m G2 Mainichi Okan, walked and did a regular canter on all-weather track this morning.

"He is very settled. He is usually tense when he travels, but this time he had a more comfortable trip to Hong Kong," said his travelling-lad Hidetoshi Kawabata.

Alain de Royer-Dupre, trainer of The Bogberry, watched the three-year-old canter easily and admitted that he was still on a learning curve with the recent acquisition to his yard.

"I suppose on what he has done in Ireland he might find the ground a bit fast but he will be a nice horse for next year in France. He worked very well twice in Chantilly last week so it's been just a case of keeping him active here," he said.

Singapore-based trainer Laurie Laxon was at the track to watch his sprinter Waikato have a gentle canter on the all weather track, and was happy with his horse. "He's thriving right now, he shipped well and he may have even put on a little weight according to the scales over here. I think he's still on the upgrade, and he's maybe improved a bit since his fourth to Takeover Target in the international sprint in Singapore back in May. He'll have a bit of work on the turf later in the week," Laxon said.

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